It was shortly after my two sons had jumped and rolled around the lovely green grass in front of the Potomac Yard fire station that I spied the “Please Stay Off the Grass” sign. It was posted nearby and served notice that the lawn had recently been treated with chemicals to promote all that luscious green they were enjoying.
I made a mental note to spray them down with the garden hose when we returned home.
According to the D.C.-based advocacy group, Beyond Pesticides, each year “over 102 million pounds of toxic pesticides are applied in pursuit of a perfect lawn and garden.”
How does a homeowner seeking yard perfection approach the task with an environmental bent? Focusing on a few key aspects of your yard’s health can work wonders at keeping weeds at bay—naturally.
Start with how low you mow. Cutting your grass too short can expose the root system and disrupt the absorption of sunlight. According to Beyond Pesticides, your lawn is healthiest when kept at approximately 3 inches in height.
Test your lawns pH balance prior to fertilizing. A proper, slightly acidic soil will better absorb the nutrients being used to keep it healthy.
When it comes to fertilizing, Beyond Pesticides points out that “your grass clippings contain 58 percent of the nitrogen added from fertilizers, improve soil conditions, suppress disease, and reduce thatch and crabgrass,” making them an ideal and natural choice to nourish your lawn. They’re also free.
Preventing thatch buildup from leaving those clippings behind after a mow can be accomplished through aerating, which helps air, water and fertilizer adequately reach the root system.
Finally, watering, but not over-watering, in the morning hours can make the difference in keeping your lawn lush, lovely and pesticide-free. Watering when the sun exposure is harshest places all your hard work at risk of being burned.
So, how does your garden grow? With chemicals or without? Tell us in the comments.