Organic food, toiletries, and other products are on the rise. People are more aware of toxins and wanting to live healthier lives and make less of an impact on the environment. These are all good things! We also encounter a lot of folks, who want to go organic in their lawns, but have a misperception of what it means. They think it means they have to have a field of dandelions and other weeds in their grass. This is not the case!!
Our lawn has been organic for four years. We did have a transition period where we had to kill off the weeds and work hard to develop the health of our lawn’s ecosystem for healthy soil, roots and grass. The concept is if you have healthy soil, roots and grass–your grass will be thick and naturally choke out the weeds. I pull less than a dozen weeds in our yard because it is so thick. Our weeds are usually along the fence-line, where they are spreading from our neighbor’s lawn into ours or last year it was a spot the sprinkler didn’t hit early in the season that left the area thinner until we readjusted it.
Here is a picture of our lawn.
Some of our customers, who want our organic program, have let their lawns go for a few years and need some lawn care SOS first like the first picture. The first year we put them on our Hybrid Lawn Fertilization Program, which does include weed killer but has the same warning label as Tide Detergent so a lower toxicity weed killer. Aeration is also important to break up hard soil and allow the nutrients to get down to the soil and roots. Sometimes an overseed is necessary if there are more weeds than grass because if you kill off the weeds and leave bare patches, the weeds will return. When you allow weeds to seed out, you have a lot of weed pressure in your lawn. The most common weeds we see in Colorado average 20,000 seeds per plant so it will take some time to kill the existing weed plants and kill the ones that germinate from seeds.
Year 1: Begin to boost the overall lawn nutrition through aeration, lawn fertilization putting a lot of organics back into the yard and killing the weeds off. By working on getting a thick, lush lawn, this will naturally suppress weeds. If needed, do a fall overseed to replace bare or thin areas of the grass.
Year 2: Assess the overall lawn health and see if going completely organic is an option. Perhaps a second year of the above program will be needed if the yard was in bad shape.
Year 3: Most lawn can be entirely organic in year three, with the caveat that people will need to continue to maintain their lawn or it will return to its former state. Proper water, aerating at least once a year and continuing to fertilize with soil boosting organics to keep the lawn healthy will be needed. There will be weeds–your lawn isn’t in a bubble but exists where weeds are present, and seeds can blow into your yard. We just have decreased the number of weeds drastically and hand pulling a few weeds year should keep them under control.
Going organic is possible but can take some patience to get a beautiful weed free lush lawn. For us, it has been worth it!