*Here is a piece written by Jonah on organic options for lawn care. Got questions? Drop us a line/ comment/ phone call and we’ll be happy to help!
A Month by the Month Guide
Bluegrass and Fescue
Converting your lawn care schedule to a more natural, organic approach will not only help the overall health of the lawn, but it will aid in building the soil too! Why do I want to build better soil, you ask? When you build better soil, you are increasing microbial activity. The only way to do this is by adding organic matter! Using organic fertilizers requires microbial action to act as a middleman, also known as initiators. These micro-organisms feed on the fertilizer, and break it down into a form that plants can readily absorb and put to immediate use. By increasing microbes in the soil, it also increases the efficiency of plants response to organic fertilizer. This is why organic fertilizers can be used during the summer, despite the heat.
Synthetic fertilizers not only breakdown quickly, but they are only a temporary nutrients for your lawn and plants. If you are looking to have a healthy, happy yard then a natural/organic program is what you need. When you use natural/organic substitutes you are improving the soil conditions in which the roots grow. If you grow healthy roots you grow healthy plants.
Natural/Organic Fertilizers we recommend:
N P K
-Corn Gluten 9-0-0
-Converted Organics 8-1-4
-Chickity Doo Doo 5-3-2.5
Serenade – Lawn Disease Control
Pharm Solutions – Weed Pharm
Month by Month PlanMarch
For a natural herbicide and early fertilizer apply Corn Gluten to your lawn. Corn gluten has a 9-0-0, N-P-K fertilizer formula. However, do not use corn gluten if you are going to seed your lawn in the spring as it may inhibit the germination and establishment of young seedlings. Milorganite may also be used as natural fertilizer and works great as a seed starter. Spring fertilization is important in getting the lawns’ roots active once again from winter dormancy.
March is also be a great time to apply a soil activator. Soil activators should not be used in place of fertilizer. The microbes in the soil activator help to make organic fertilizer more readily available for plant use—they do not replace the need for fertilizer. What good are a bunch of workers with no project to work on?
This is the time to apply preemergent herbicide if you did not do so in March. Corn gluten is a great natural herbicide and fertilizer. You should not use corn gluten within 60 days of seeding. If you are just looking for a spring green-up then Milorgainte, Earthalizer, Converted Organics, or Chickity-doo-doo will work great.
When you begin to mow your lawn, do not forget to mow at a 3-4 inches and do not bag the clippings. The clippings will be broken down by microbial activity, thus benefiting the lawn.
There is still time for the application of pre-emergent and fertilizer if you have not yet. Remember, crabgrass germinates all summer so pre-emergent is very important even in may. If you are beginning to see weeds emerge you can use a Pharm Solutions – Weed Pharm is an organic herbicide. Be sure to spray or pull weeds weekly to be most effective.
Mid to Late May
Keep an eye out for grubs in your lawn. If you are sure you have grubs and must use a chemical then use one of the following: Imidacloprid, Mach II, Merit, or Dylox. There is no organic grub control on the market that will eliminate a variety of grubs. Milky Spore is a biological control, but it is only specific to Japanese beetle larva.
Time for late May fertilizing! This product should be a slow release, so any of the organic/natural fertilizers will work great.
If you are seeing fungus problems in the yard use the organic fungicide by Serenade garden called Lawn Disease Control. This organic fungicide controls and helps prevent dollar spot and brown patch in your lawn, two of the most prevalent disease problems known to be in the Kansas City area. Follow up spray every 7-10 days as prevention during times of favorable conditions for fungus.
It’s time to begin applying Yardsafe insect repellant. This cedar derived natural repellant helps in deterring fleas, chiggers, gnats, ants, mosquitoes, flies, and many other common yard insects. Apply every 30 days.
If you missed your May fertilization make sure you get it on now. Remember that organic fertilizers are non-burning and will also help improve the soil conditions.
If you are still seeing weeds you can use a Pharm Solutions – Weed Pharm as an organic herbicide, and keep on spraying and pulling weeds weekly as they will pop up all summer.
Keep spraying for weeds, treat fungal problems as needed with Serenade’s fungicide, and continue to look for grubs.
This is the month to prepare for seeding in September. Take care of spraying and pulling all weeds now. Top dress your lawn with a quarter of an inch of compost so that it can be worked in when aerating and verticutting.
Best month for seeding (see handout on seeding lawns) and do not apply any weed killer until after new seeds have been mowed twice. After seeding use an organic fertilizer to get it established more rapidly. If not seeding use a fertilizer in early September to prepare for winterization, and to reduce the stress of the hot summer.
Fertilize in mid-October to winterize your lawn. Winterization fertilization encourages spreading and tillering growth. The air temperature is cooler, the soil is warm, and this results in less top growth and more root growth.
Corn gluten is a great product to use as a winterizer because it will also act as a natural herbicide to prevent winter annual weeds from germinating. However, if you have seeded you will want to use Milorganite, Earthalizer, Converted Organics, or Chickity Doo Doo as a winterizer.
This is also a great time for a second application of a soil activator.
Apply another round of natural/organic fertilizer as a winterizer in late-November. A total of 3 applications throughout the fall season would be appropriate.
Hibernate for the winter and stay warm!
This is only a rough guideline of recommendations and techniques that can be used for a great organic and natural lawn. However, when using a natural/organic lawn program, it is best to let the turf be your guide for what to apply and when to apply.