Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > February 2016 > IN THE DIRT with DOUG - ORGANIC LAWN CARE TIPS


The time has come for all of us to think about what we are doing to our environment when it comes to the use and abuse of pesticides and fertilizers that we apply to our lawns each year.  I fully understand that the transition of applying organic practices to the lawn care and seeing the benefits does not occur over night. 
                Here are some statistics provided by the U. S. National Wildlife Federation:
  1.  30% of water used on the East Coast goes to watering lawns
  2. The average suburban lawn received 10 times as much chemical pesticide per acre as farmland.
  3. Over 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides are applied to residential lawns and gardens annually.
Sadly, too much of these pesticides and fertilizers are washing into our water systems and polluting our waters and Chesapeake Bay. 
                The first step of converting to organic practices with lawn care is creating a healthy lawn soil.  Without healthy soil grass has a harder time growing and staying healthy.  We need to start adding organic matter to the lawn.  A healthy lawn attracts beneficial insects such as earthworms.  Earthworms are our natural aerators of the soil and at the same time they help to fertilize the soil.
                Also, we want to maintain a pH level somewhere between 6.5 and 7.0.
An important step to converting to more eco-friendly lawn care practice is coming soon for us here in Central Virginia.  Have you heard of Corn Gluten?  We carry corn gluten with our Espoma Organic Weed Preventer.  Corn gluten is an all-natural by-product of the production of corn starch.  It prevents the establishment of weeds and supplies a source of organic nitrogen.  Nitrogen promotes green growth in lawns and the nitrogen in corn gluten is slow released and long-lasting.  Corn gluten prevents the roots of seedling weeds from developing.  Without root formation, the weed dies from a lack of water since roots deliver water to the rest of the weed.  Espoma Organic Weed Preventer controls 23 types of weeds – including crabgrass and dandelions.  Key to being successful using corn gluten is in the timing.  Keep in mind that we are talking about prevention.  Corn gluten does not kill weeds that have already sprouted.  Because we want to keep weed seeds from germinating, in our area we want to apply corn gluten to our lawns in early March.  It needs to be a dry day and apply to a dry lawn surface.  Once applied you want to lightly water the lawn to begin activating the corn gluten.
Corn gluten needs to be applied twice a year as a weed pre-emergent – once in the spring and again in the early fall.  The fall application can be a little tricky because we want to re-seed our cool season lawn in the fall.
Another good, natural lawn care tip is using White vinegar, water, with a little soap detergent to control actively growing weeds.   You need to be careful because you only want to spray the weed and not the surrounding grass. 
                Here is what you want to do in order to create a more organic lawn:
  1.  Improve the soil in the lawn.
  2. Be sure to use a good, quality grass seed.
  3. Mow often so as to cut no more than 1/3 of the grass blades.
  4. Let the grass clippings lay in the lawn.  Grass clippings is a good source of nitrogen.
  5. Water deeply but not too often.  If you watered deeply you should be able to go 5 to 7 days before needing to water again.
  6. Aerate the soil each fall.
  7. Check your soil pH annually.
  8. Keep the turf healthy and thick.  Weeds will grow where the grass has become thin or bare.
Bottom line…you need to start the transformation at some point.  Why not start in a couple of weeks by applying the Espoma Organic Weed preventer with corn gluten to your lawn as the first step with preventing weeds and your first step to learning to go more natural with your lawn care.
Posted: 2/18/2016 by Doug Hensel | with 1 comment(s)
Is it too late now 4/6 to use the corn gluten?
4/6/2017 4:30:05 PM

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