(An upshot of the snow was making snow creatures in it.)
With spring comes my plan for a garden, cookouts, bonfires, and making s’mores. This year I am also planning to take on my lawn. 2013 was the first year that I had to personally take care of a lawn. Every year before that I either lived in an apartment or with my parents and the lawn just seemed to take care of itself. Now that I am a homeowner I see that lawn maintenance is a lot of work, and I want to do it right with no pesticides or fertilizer that will kill bees and butterflies and pollute the Chesapeake Bay.
I have found that creating an organic lawn takes a lot of work! To get started and I have enlisted the handy guides from Beyond Pesticides (a local DC non-profit). Here are the few steps I am following to establish a new lawn:
1. What kind of grass will be best for my soil?
My solutions: Fine fescue or turf-type seem to fit the bill because they do well in shade and the turf is pretty resilient all around.
2. Seed or Sod?
My solution: sod is super expensive and usually full of chemicals so I am going with seed.
3. Site Preparation - test soil, rough grade, add soil amendments and organic matter, final grading.
My Solution: This step is a little daunting. I used the Beyond Pesticide guide for reading weeds earlier this fall to determine issues with my soil, i.e. very low nitrogen because I can see black medic and I have grubs. This means I am going to grade my soil away from the house, add compost or compost tea, sow in some clover seeds with my grass (to trap nitrogen), and get some nematodes to eat the grub.
My solution: I will mow high on the mulch setting, aerate, water when needed just to establish the lawn, over-seed when needed, and apply more compost or compost tea in the spring and fall.
Hopefully these steps will help me establish a thriving organic lawn!
Not interested in planting grass? Check out my next post on lawn alternatives.
Heather works in MOM’s Central Office.