Even in the coldest parts of the country, it’ll soon be time to survey winter’s damage to your yard and devise a spring lawn care plan of attack. For those considering ditching the chemicals and going organic this year, The Daily Green and SafeLawns.org suggest starting with the following steps:
Test the soil. Before fertilizing your lawn, you need to know which nutrients, and how much of each, it needs. Cooperative Extension offices at most universities with an agriculture program are able to do soil testing based on a sample you send in.
Choose the appropriate fertilizer. Once you’ve received the results of your soil test, you can choose your organic fertilizer wisely. Which variety is best for your lawn depends on its nutrient composition. While chemical fertilizers may result in fast-growing grass, organic fertilizers lead to healthy soil, which is the key to a hearty lawn.
Use your compost as fertilizer. If you’re thinking about organic lawn care, there’s a good chance you’re a kitchen composter too. Your composted food waste makes an excellent—and chemical-free—fertilizer for your lawn. If you don’t compost, you can easily find organic compost in most home and garden stores.
Study the seed catalog. Numerous varieties of grass are available, each with its particular strengths and weaknesses. If you need to touch up a patch of lawn or are thinking about seeding or sodding the entire yard, research varieties that grow well in your region as well as under the specific environmental conditions of your property before making a purchase. Consider qualities such as speed of growth, height, sun or shade requirement, water consumption, and disease and pest resistance.
Know how to mow. The most environmentally friendly (and cardio-boosting) way to mow your lawn is the old-fashioned way: manually. An electric mower is the next greenest option, with gas-powered mowers coming in last. Keep mower blades sharp and only mow when there’s rain in the forecast (grass grows slowly under dry conditions). Safelawns.org suggests never cutting grass by more than 1/3 of its current length, and leaving the clippings where they fall as a natural fertilizer.