The internet has an endless supply of organic lawn care tips, but what about the kind that actually work without spending a lot of money?
Listed below, some of the simplest and most affordable tips are listed to help you go green and break the cycle of harsh landscaping chemicals on your property.
After you are finished reading, choosing one to get started with can help you if you are not known for having a green thumb.
Get a soil sample testing kit
When you know there is a serious problem with your lawn or garden, it pays to get a soil testing kit. By and large, it is understood that healthy plants start with healthy soil, and if your lawn is healthy, it will have fewer pests.
If you are on a budget, you can get testing strips to do the tests. Keep in mind that some plants like acidic, alkaline or neutral soil, and adjusting the soil is easy.
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DIY a compost pile
Regardless, when considering making a compost pile, be sure to do your homework first. For example, GrowVeg states on their website that cities and other urban areas may need to have compost bins built so they are squirrel or rat-proof.
Rural compost piles need to be placed in an area where wildlife can access the compost, but cats or dogs are not killing opossums and raccoons.
Plant native plants
Part of the reason your yard might be unhealthy or requires a lot of extra work with chemicals is due to the fact you have planted non-native species of plants, and your lawn is rebelling.
While it might take some research, the best solution is to focus on finding out which native plants are specific to your geographic area. One tip is to ask a local horticultural specialist to help you find the right ones.
Consider a fallow period
In some situations, the best idea for a lawn is to do nothing. When all else fails, it might be time to hibernate the lawn for a year or more. This is especially true if the soil is wounded from construction.
Some of the techniques for this type of situation are putting down hay over tilled earth and planting native grass seeds over the top.
Sometimes organic lawns have no turf
If you live in an area that is experiencing a drought, consider the benefits of removing the non-native species of turf from the lawn entirely. Regardless, do not pave or brick over the yard because it can cause storm water to overwhelm local sewers.
Instead, keep the lawn breathable by creating a drought-resistant rock garden. Nevertheless, a rock garden does not need to be plant-free, according to Oregon Live, and there are several types of flowers that are drought-resistant.
Sand for drainage issues
Soil can vary dramatically from yard to yard, and if your property has clay soil, it can cause serious disruptions in your water drainage. It can also make your yard look patchy because it has puddles throughout.
To help the situation without doing more digging, adding sand can help the yard by absorbing some of the clay without causing more disruption.
Use humus for irrigation problems
When the soil is over-watered and starting to show signs of erosion, it may be due to water runoff from sprinklers or daily hosing that is causing issues with your lawn. Instead of hiring someone to diagnose the issue, try putting down fresh humus soil instead.
This will help lock in some moisture and may prevent a patchy look to your lawn. According to the University of Maine, humus provides anchorage for plants that are waterlogged.
Limestone gravel to lower acidity next to trees
When you have large patches of bare soil, the problem might be the trees. In addition to shade causing plants to avoid growing under the tree, the tree sap might be creating acidity issues.
To avoid taking nutrients away from the tree or changing the soil, add limestone gravel to lower the pH, according to Penn State.
Part of the issue with a stubborn lawn could be that there are no earthworms to chew up the soil. As the earthworm eats its way through the soil in your lawn, it leaves behind important nutrients for the plants as well as creating air pockets as it tunnels.
To get started, encouraging earthworms to invade your soil begins with introducing them into troubled areas of the lawn.
Use peat moss for dog urine patches
Has dog urine destroyed your lawn, and you do not know if it can be restored? One way to create instant beauty in a patchy lawn is to add a helpful plant that will restore the soil.
According to Time with Thea, a popular choice is peat moss, and it is used to cover grass seeds. Once the grass takes root, the peat moss becomes decomposed humus.
Keep mowing but without gas
A large lawn will always need some attention with a lawnmower, but consider the damaging effects that a gas-powered machine has on the yard or environment. Although non-electric mowers seem difficult to use, the newer models are more efficient than ones from the 1960s, and blade sharpening makes a difference.
On top of this, non-electric mowers will be difficult to use for overgrown lawns or when the grass is wet.
Install rain barrels
Having an organic lawn is also about watering it with the best water possible. Instead of relying on chlorinated tap water from the hose, consider saving rainwater and only using that on the lawn.
In addition to a hose, irrigation equipment or sprinklers can be set up to access collected rainwater from barrels or a cistern.
Only use natural fertilizers
To say that some fertilizers are environmental pollutants is an understatement. While they are on the market, it does not mean homeowners have the experience necessary to use chemical compound fertilizers effectively.
Planet Natural points out that although chemical fertilizers (like the blue stuff) are made from natural compounds, they are hard on earthworms and other microorganisms in the soil.
Always avoid pesticides
According to Organic Land Care, there are more reasons to avoid pesticides on lawns than first expected. In short, the long-term and short-term problems associated with pesticides can harm pets, children or wildlife, but also kill off earthworms, microorganisms in the soil and the plants themselves.
In other words, consider a rock garden before attempting to use a pesticide.
Remember your lawn is healthiest when it is part of a living ecosystem
Attitude is the best way to keep your lawn healthy, and the more you focus on how it is actually a living, breathing part of the natural world, the more vibrant it will become.
Over time, as it heals from not having harsh chemicals or non-native plants thrown at it, it will start to become a part of the local ecosystem where birds and other wildlife feel welcome.
The next step is up to you
Now that you have a long list of potential tips, the next step is to try at least one. When you feel that you are getting into the swing of lawn maintenance, you will soon find that a lot of these tips are intuitive.
Over time, with focus on your lawn as a thriving part of the living world, you will end up with a yard or garden that is free of contaminants and is healthy without harsh chemicals.