Have a healthy, green lawn without using chemicals

Posted6/28/2020 6:00 AM

Q: I have been practicing organic lawn care for many years. How do I talk to my neighbors about the benefits of natural lawn care practices?

A: Natural, organic lawn care practices can be less time consuming and costly than using fertilizers and chemicals. That should get their attention!


People don't realize that a few simple, natural and organic steps can improve their lawn without much time, effort or money and it can be done naturally! Tell them what you do; give explanations and choices of how to do it.

For example, an organic practice that is very beneficial is core aeration. Depending on the size of their yard, they can have a service aerate for them or they can rent a core aerator. The important thing is that the core (plug) needs to be removed from the hole. Just making a hole will do very little.

Core aeration helps to break up compacted soil. This helps the grass roots grow deeper and withstand periods of drought better. More oxygen and water go into the empty spaces, too. A better root system helps our bluegrass seed for shade or sun to resist disease and tolerate droughts better. The lawn will stay greener and grow more, too.

When mowing, mow to 2½ to 3 inches, and be sure that not more than one-third of the leaf blade is being removed.

After aerating, compost can be added. They can either buy it at a box store or nursery or make their own. To make their own compost is simple and doesn't need to cost anything. By adding the compost to their aerated lawn, it will make its way into the holes and improve the condition of the soil. By increasing the organic materials in the soil, you can improve things like water retention and soil fertility.

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By using organic methods such as core aeration, adding compost, mowing at a proper height, and planting proper grass seed, grass will tolerate dry periods better and fertilizer and chemicals won't be needed.

-- Jennifer Richardson

• Provided through the Master Gardener Answer Desk, Friendship Park Conservatory, Oak Park Conservatory and University of Illinois Extension, North Cook Office, Arlington Heights. Visit go.illinois.edu/LearnMoreMG or email northcookmg@gmail.com.

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