Friday, May 15, 2009

Organic lawns are easier than you think

All drinking water in the USA contains traces of pesticides and herbicides – that we spread on our lawns regularly. Such poisons have been directly linked to ADD and ADHD.

These chemicals kill bugs by toying with their nervous systems. They’re endocrine disruptors – which means they interfere with the sexuality, nervous systems and mental abilities of living things – including us. These legal and liberally applied chemicals are lynching us.

Joann Bisetta of the Concord, MA Water Dept. and Frank Koll, owner of GreenScapes Lawn, an organic lawn service in Arlington, MA, know how to battle dandelions, grubs, acidic soil, and crabgrass using compost tea, corn gluten, hummus, a Weed Hound -Hound Dog dandelion picker, oatmeal, [yes oatmeal!] and milky spore.

When you stop using Scotts or Chem Lawn, anticipate that your lawn will get worse before it gets better because it is addicted to the drug, according to Frank.

It will require several years of natural lawn care to establish deep roots and healthier soil to support grass and some weeds. Once it’s in recovery, your lawn will become healthier and more rugged because it will be thicker and deeper roots.

“Ironically, after a few years of natural lawn care, customers don’t need me,” Frank said of his organic lawn treatments. The grass grows so strong and healthy, it doesn’t need chemical treatements. You will save money in the long run too. Even though organic fertilizer is somewhat more expensive initially, you can make your own compost tea. []

Joann and Frank recommended a 5-step process:

1. Start with a standard soil test with organic matter -- $13, from UMass Extension, soil testing lab -- 413-545-2311,

2. Create an environment for healthy soil to crowd out the weeds. Use compost tea – made with compost in water – to fertilized a few times a month or season.

3. Grow the right kind of grass- Fescue is recommended in Mass. It’s more native than Kentucky Bluegrass. Don’t attempt to grow grass in the shade. It won’t happen! Come up with other garden plants for shady areas.

4. Grow grass at the right TIME. Feed and seed your lawn when forsythias come out in spring. Rake the dirt spots and sprinkle Fescue seeds in spring. Don’t expect an overnight transformation. In fall, fertilize generously with hummus and compost tea and put more seeds down.

5. Sharpen your lawn mower blade every 10 times and leave the grass 3 inches high to crowd out the weeds.

Changing our lawn care practice is part of the overall scheme of changing our paradigm about how we use energy and treat the earth. Organic lawn care can grow a healthier and safer lawn than when chemicals are used.

West Chester County, NY and some parts of Canada have outlawed chemical lawn fertilizers. The trend among golf courses is to go organic.

Make sure the “organic” brands of lawn care at garden stores really are organic and don’t have nitrates or urea. We need to get our state legislature to pass similar laws to ban those chemicals. Educate yourself and your neighbors on the benefits of organic lawn care.

1 comment: