Posts Tagged ‘lawns’

Organic Lawns – What Kind Do You Want?

 

About this time of year, we’ve had enough of winter and are anxious to start gardening and working on the lawn. There are lots of creative options for lawns and now is the time to start planning.

Though conventional lawns are a perfect medium where kids can play as well as provide a nice, kempt look to your landscape, to get that perfect, weed-free golf course look requires time, expense and unnecessary chemicals and nitrogen-based fertilizers.  Many of these chemicals are known carcinogens and linked to health problems in children, pets and adults.  These chemicals get tracked into our home, seep into our waterways and kill beneficial life in the soil.

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Turf grass is our largest irrigated “crop” using as much as half of all fresh water used in urban areas each year.  With drought striking much of the country, this is an awful waste of water. Lawns also use 20 times more pesticides per acre than farms.  Additionally, the fuel used to power mowers and other fume-belching equipment required to maintain a perfect lawn emits toxic emissions into the air.

 

You can have a beautiful, lush, green lawn where your kids and pets can safely play without the use of chemicals and save money too.  How?

 

  • Feed your grass naturally with organic fertilizers available at your local nursery.
  • Spread a thin layer of compost over the turf, particularly on the trouble spots. The beneficial bacteria in the compost wake up your turf miraculously!
  • Throw down some extra seed.
  • Add plenty of calcium to your turf.
  • Leave your grass clippings, a natural source of nitrogen, after you mow.  Cornell researchers have shown that mulching leaves on to the lawn in the fall results in faster green up in the spring.
  • Mow high.  Longer grass encourages longer roots, which require less water and food.
  • When you water, water deeply and infrequently.
  • Learn to live with a few weeds, or wild herbs.  Dandelions actually add a bit of color,  don’t last long, and in fact are a highly nutritious, edible weed (only on an organic lawn however).  Monocultures like a lawn are not typical in nature and only invite problems.

 

Alternatives to Conventional Lawns

 

  • Edible Landscapes with sustainable, self-perpetuating vegetables, herbs, fruits and nuts.  There are edible landscape companies available to consult and/or install.
  • Wildflower and perennial gardens that attract beneficial bees and butterflies.
  • Cool season or warm season ornamental, drought-tolerant grasses that need no mowing.
  • Low maintenance ground covers like myrtle or nitrogen-enriching clover that stays green even in the driest part of the summer.
  • Trees and shrubs
  • Xeriscapes, or landscapes with an emphasis on water conservation, soil improvement, limited turf, native plants, proper mulching and low-maintenance
  • Or a combination of the above

 

This spring, take a safer and healthier approach to lawn maintenance!

 

Some information compiled from: http://eartheasy.com/grow_lawn_alternatives.htm#c. www.ediblelandscapes.net, and http://www.bostontreepreervation.com.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conserve Water During Dry Conditions

According to a report from the National Climatic Center in Asheville, NC and the Huffington Post,  “The nation’s widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions.”  As I write this post from my farm on Cape Cod, the thermometer says 88 degrees (though it feels even hotter), much of my lawn looks brown and my flowers, vegetables and normally hearty hydrangea look wilted.  And there have been many days this summer just like this.

We obviously need to water to keep our plants alive. However, we need to think about water conservation too in such dry conditions with little or no rain in the forecast. A lush green lawn is lovely, but turf grass is our largest irrigated “crop” using as much as half of all fresh water used in urban areas each year. Typically, at least half of all water consumed by households is used outdoors. Lawns require two-and-a-half to four times more water than trees and shrubs, and a typical suburban lawn uses 10,000 gallons of water over and above that provided by rainfall in a single year.

What can you do?  Lots…

  • Mow high.  Longer grass encourages longer roots, which require less water and food. It also holds moisture better.
  • Avoid mowing during the hottest part of the day.
  • Don’t mow if you don’t have to.  Save the gas instead.
  • When you do water, water deeply and infrequently.
  • Water between 4 and 6am when the demand is low.  After 10 am much of the water evaporates.
  • Check your automatic sprinkler system periodically to make sure the heads are actually watering the lawn and not the sidewalk or your house.
  • Since there seems to be a trend towards hot, dry summers, consider re-landscaping to minimize grass areas in your lawn, lowering your demand for water.
  • If you can, let your lawn go dormant during this drought period.  Lawns are supposed to go dormant in the summer – we just keep them artificially green by watering.  If your lawn has a good root system established, it won’t die and will bounce back during the cooler temperatures of fall.

    Very green grass, despite the drought

    Very green grass, despite the drought (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Information compiled from http://www.bouldercolorado.gov and http://web4.audubon.org/