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Organic Lawn Care for Family Health

First we will look at caring for the plants, and in the next issue, we will look at insects--and how to balance the helpful insects with the invasive, destructive ones.

Organic backyard care for the lawn or gardens -- vegetable or flowers and shrubs -- gets easier by the day. With a lot of creative experimentation, gardeners and nature lovers have created easy ways to add organic nutrients to soil, conserve water and prevent pests -- both insect and plant.

Here are a few tips on how to "think organic" in common lawn care planning and upkeep.

Bacteria are suddenly all the rage! We now know that bacteria are everywhere...and we are learning more every day about how "good" and "bad" bacteria work together in the balance of nature. Your garden and lawn are also hives of bacterial activity.

There are many ways you can improve the condition of your soil and backyard landscape that are safe and beneficial to the environment...and your family and friends!

  • You can use compost as a mulch and work it into the soil to improve humus in the soil.
  • You can remove excess thatch to provide adequate air circulation.
  • And when you encourage insect eating birds to visit and live in your yard you not only have the pleasure of their company, but they eat hundreds of insects daily.

  • By combining the mowing of grassy areas higher during summer months with proper watering, you will improve the strength of the grass and cover plants. Healthy plants, in turn, will improve soil structure.

    The accumulation of organic residue between the soil and the green leaves of grass is referred to as thatch. Excess thatch reduces the ability of water toget to the root zone and creates shallow rooted turf. It also encourages disease and insect attacks and can make mowing difficult.

    Contrary to rumor, if lawns are mowed properly, grass clippings will not promote thatch accumulation. The benefits of returning the clippings to the lawn far exceed the problems of thatch accumulation created by clippings. It is actually excess fertilization with nitrogen that promotes thatch accumulation. If you lawn has more than one-half inch of thatch remove it in early spring by dethatching in two or more directions.

    Excessive use of fertilizer not only weakens your lawn plants, but it also seeps into our groundwater supply...and that causes contaminated water supplies, rivers, streams, lakes...and oceans.

    Why is proper watering important to maintaining a healthy lawn?

    You can reduce stress to your grass and shrubs by using the proper amount of water, timing and how long you water. Proper watering will developing deep, strong roots to get through periods of drought, promote resistance to insect infestations, prevent disease and weed development.

    Healthy soil needs less watering. It is important to know what type of soil you have so that you can add the necessary amendments to hold the water needed by the plant roots.

    Organic material holds more moisture for two to three times longer than soil with little or no organic matter. The greater the ability of the soil to store water, the longer the grass can go without rain or watering.

    Inspect the roots of your grass by digging up a plug or small section with a spade. If the root system of the grass goes down only about two inches, you'll know that the grass is always going to need watering when the soil just begins to dry out a little bit. Also check for thatch. Thatch buildup can prevent water from getting to the soil so remove it if it is more than one-half inch thick. If grass is grown in poor soil and watered incorrectly, the grass will have stunted roots, 2 to 3 inches deep instead of the desired 4-6 inches. This in turn stresses the lawn making it susceptible to weeds, insects and disease.

    For more articles about ORGANIC GARDENING

    Organic backyard care
    Organic Fertilizer Basics
    Garden Hoses