Organic Lawn Care

Some folks love lawns.   Lawns can be active playgrounds for a game of frisbee or a place to have shades of green in your front yard or back.  Here are some tips on having lush lawns organically.

1. Seeds & Soil
Choose hardy seed mixes suited for the Northland.

If there is a bare patch or two in your yard add more grass seed mix.  Overseeding will lead to greater density of grass compared to weeds. 
Components of soil include : minerals, organic matter, air and water.  Healthy lawns need air in the soil.  If you lawn has become compacted then rent an aerator machine.  Do this in the fall.  Leave the plugs on the site.  Opening the spaces up will less roots expand.  More roots mean that the lawn will withstand water changes better.

Get your soil tested
University of Wisconsin Soil Testing lab performs soil analysis for $15.  Turf grass and other tests are available for additional fees. The lab is in Marshfield, WI.  Information on how to collect a sample and submit one is located on their website.  Here is their phone number. 715-387-2523

2. Mowers & Mowing
 Sharpen your lawn mower blade annually.   Several places in the Twin Ports do this includes East End Hardware Hank 715-398-5050 and Burggraf's Ace Hardware (218-464-5050.  The price is minimal. 

Set your mower blade to about 3" high.  Having the grass be taller helps shade out competitor weeds, retain moisture, and overall looks more lush.

3. Weed Control and Nutrients
It is illegal in the State of WI to apply fertilizer with Phosphorus unless on a brand new lawn or if your soil test results indicate phosphorus need.  Phosphorus ban.
Add natural nutrients by leaving grass clipping on the lawn.  Do not leave grass clippings on sidewalks or driveways where they runoff can move them down a storm drain and out to a nearby river. 
You can add a small layer of compost to add organic matter.  It's the living things within soil that

Mechanical removal of weeds is an organic approach.  Overall, with healthy soils and grass the weeds should not come in.

4.  Watering
Only water when necessary.   Water in the morning or evening when evaporation would be less.

5. Consider less lawn and not perfect lawns.  Adding trees and native plants.   Accept lawns that are a bit less green during the summer heat dormancy time or with a few weeds.   See the ESD tab for native plant list.  These also work well in rain gardens.  If you have an area of your yard where water pools or where you want to direct runoff from your roof then put in a rain garden.  Rain gardens clean water and slow runoff.

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