For as much open space and urban concrete there is in this country, an enormous amount of area is taken up by lawns. Homeowners maintain millions of acres of grass, and primarily do so by using chemical-based fertilizers, insecticides, and weed killers. These treatments can harm our children, pets, beneficial spiders and insects, and can be carried to additional locations through any number of methods.
These harsh chemicals are also harmful to the soil, which more than just your lawn relies on as a hospitable habitat, a safe environment and a hardy supply of nutrients. The lawn chemicals kill important microbes that live in the soil. They’re very beneficial to the roots and the area around them by breaking down dead plant matter and animal refuse. Taking advantage of natural lawn treatments eliminates the negative impact of chemicals while preserving their original purpose.
Humus is plant matter that has reached the end of decomposition. It’s now a stable material, and as a result can remain in place for centuries if conditions don’t change. So long as the humus is chemically balanced it can produce crop after crop, year after year, continuing to provide the stable, nutritious environment our plants and crops—including grass—need to grow optimally.
Chemically unbalanced humus can lead to inferior crops, low yields, weak roots and blades, and even tracts that will no longer produce anything.
Organic products like compost can play an important role in turning your lawn into a healthy, lush showpiece and environment for its insect guests. It can also help turn the soil into a welcome and hospitable environment for the plants, shrubs, vines, and trees that grown on your property.
Within a few days of spreading compost across your lawn and working it down to the soil with a push broom, you will begin to see positive changes. Your lawn will be greener and eventually thicker. The addition to compost will additionally cause the turf to grow deeper root systems.
You will also notice the need to water less. The reason for this is because the compost has made the soil healthier and as a result the grass roots are digging in deeper and deeper. This means they’re able to use reserve moisture in the soil previously out of reach.
Protein-based fertilizers should be used once you decide to make the switch to compost. Protein-based fertilizers include corn meal, alfalfa meal, used coffee grounds, soy meal, cottonseed meal, or anything else you can get inexpensively in bulk from your local feed and supply store. They can be applied and day of the season, at any time of day. These organic fertilizers will not burn your grass and are an excellent choice for lawn fertilization.
With protein-based fertilizers, they have to be broken down by the microbes before they can be turned into food for the roots. Give the microbes about three to four weeks to totally break them down.
With the switch to organic products for your lawn and soil, several other changes start to take place. You will no longer have to manually aerate your soil. The microbes will naturally ventilate the ground, preventing it from turning into hardpack.
Thatch and Mulch
You will also not have to worry about grass clippings after cuttings. The microbes operate at such a high activity rate, primarily because there’s so much more to do, that clippings eventually become humus. The same goes for leaves in the fall. They can simply be mulched right back into the soil, providing even more plant matter that will eventually become humus.
Our lawns offer so much. Pride of a great looking yard, a soft and comfortable footing for kids at play, and a habitat for many important insects as well as the microbes. Shifting away from chemicals to compost and protein-based fertilizers is easy, and the results are almost immediate. Hopefully the positive changes will inspire and motivate you to create the healthiest lawn and soil possible, the way Mother Nature intended.