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Newsletter »Apr. 2008«

EDUCATION & INFORMATION:

Natural Lawn Care

Can I maintain a lawn organically and still have an attractive lawn?
You can have a beautiful green lawn that’s maintained organically as long as you follow certain basic practices regarding mowing, watering, soil pH and feeding.

When should I water the lawn and how much water should it get?
Lawns generally require one inch of water per week either from rainfall or irrigation. In the spring and fall it is better to provide “deep” watering with less frequency. In the heat of the summer lighter and more frequent watering is recommended.

Why is proper mowing critical to the health of a lawn?
Removing too much of the grass blade in one cutting can damage the plants. Mow frequently and never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade when cutting. Also, keep your mower blade sharp. Dull blades can tear the grass rather than cutting it, which allows easier entry for fungus diseases. Remember to cut your lawn high (3” for cool season grass and 2” for warm season grass). This will help the lawn crowd out emerging weeds.

Should I leave the clippings on the lawn or will it cause thatch?
With proper mowing, grass clippings can be returned to the lawn without concern of thatch buildup. They are full of nitrogen and as they decompose they will actually feed the lawn

What is soil pH and why is it important?
Soil pH refers to the acidity / alkalinity of your soil where your lawn is growing. It is measured on a scale of 1 to 14 (7 is neutral). The low side means soil is acidic and the high side means soil is alkaline. The ideal pH for most lawns is slightly acid (6.2 to 6.8). As the pH moves away from that optimum the grass is not able to efficiently use the fertilizer you apply and it can be lost. You can have your soil tested professionally for a very small fee or you can do it yourself with an inexpensive test kit from your local garden center.

How do I correct my pH if it’s not near optimum?
You add lime to raise soil pH and apply sulfur to lower the soil pH. These are easy to apply with a drop or broadcast spreader.

Won’t organic fertilizers cost a lot more money?
On the surface it may look that way but organics provide nutrients in a slowly available form. This means they feed over an extended period of time. Synthetic ingredients feed quickly and are soon exhausted. One application of an organic lawn food may take the place of two synthetic feedings. Organics also encourage a healthier soil. This nurtures better turf to crowd out weeds and reduce or eliminate the need for herbicides. This improved soil also reduces watering and helps the lawn handle heat and drought stress that often bring on insects and fungal disease.

What products should I use to feed my lawn and when should I use them?
In the early spring apply Espoma Organic Weed Preventer Plus. This is an all natural material that feeds the lawn with slow release plant food and also inhibits the establishment of weeds like crabgrass. Timing and application rates are important. Apply in early spring when you see forsythia or dogwood blooming and follow the rates on the bag. Some people apply a second, late spring feeding. The product for this application would be the Espoma Organic All Natural Lawn Food. This product includes a proprietary set of beneficial microbes proven to help all aspects of turf quality. In the early fall use the Weed Preventer Plus to prevent establishment of fall germinating weed. A final feeding with the All Natural Lawn Food in late fall gets the lawn ready for winter.

For more information on Espoma lawn care products click here.

Tips for Better Gardens - Naturally!

  • Feed needle leaf evergreens with Holly-tone®.
    Blooming evergreens like azaleas should be
    fed at the first hint of bloom.
  • Feed emerging perennials with Plant-tone®
  • When foliage emerges feed roses monthly
    through August with Rose-tone®.

© 2009, The Espoma Company.