Can you really have an herbicide/pesticide-free lawn that looks good?
Most people think "natural lawn care" means you can ignore your lawn all spring and summer. But while it's a chemical-free process, it does require a few basic practices, Rachel Rosenberg wrote in this TribLocal piece.
And if you're making a switch from a conventional lawn care system, it will require at least two growing seasons to transition your soil back to health.
DO put down an organic fertilizer according to label directions in mid-April.
DO seed and fill in thin or bare areas in your yard. Getting a thick turf is your key to a healthy turf. Choose seeds that will be naturally drought resistance and sturdy for our climate. Reseed at least twice a year: Fall and spring are the best times for reseeding.
DO wait until the grass is thick and almost tipping over before the first mowing of the season. This will promote really strong early root growth. Keep your mower blades sharp and cut to 3 inches.
DO water deeply but infrequently: Water long and deep early in the morning or at dusk. Watering at night promotes disease. Make sure your lawn gets at least one inch of water per week. Conserve by not overwatering your lawn.
DO use hand tools to reduce your weed populations. It's so much easier to reduce your weed population by pulling by hand, spot spraying if absolutely necessary or using specialized tools.
And a few caveats:
DON'T put down a pre-emergent (preventative) weed control in April.
DON'T use inorganic fertilizers.
DON'T have your lawn mowed and 'cleaned up' when it's not needed.
"Lawn care chemicals don't just stay put on the lawns," she wrote. "Kids and pets track them into our homes and they wash into our waterways where they can impact our health and our environment."
To help master gardeners, schools, homeowner associations, cities and landscapers learn more about natural lawn care, Safer Pest Control Project is co-sponsoring a one-day workshop on Wednesday, March 23 at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines.
For homeowners who want to learn more, Rosenberg will be speaking at 2 p.m. at the upcoming Spring Greening Event in Skokie on April 10th. She will also be speaking on Natural Lawn Care at the Skokie Public Library at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 30th.