People who want their grass to look its best, but also be safe for pets and children, can look to organic lawn care recipes as an alternative to conventional fertilizers and pesticides. These recipes allow you to take care of your lawn without worrying about the consequences to the environment or your family's health. They are completely biodegradable, meaning they will break down in the soil after they have fulfilled their purpose instead of ending up in local waterways.
Manure is the original organic fertilizer, but needs to be thoroughly broken down in a compost pile before being spread across your lawn. Manure is primarily a source of nitrogen, but there are a few other options to provide a full spectrum of nutrients to your turf.
Four Part Mix
- Scoop the following into a bucket: four cups of seed meal, one cup of dolomitic lime, one cup of agricultural lime and one cup of gypsum.
- Sprinkle small amounts of the mix on each part of the lawn.
Make more fertilizer as needed. You can find all of these ingredients at most garden centers.
- Put yard waste and organic kitchen waste, excluding meat and oils, in a bin with plenty of aeration on the sides.
- Use a pitchfork to turn the materials each week so that the entire pile remains well-aerated.
- Within two months the material will break down and you will have an excellent fertilizer.
You can also leave grass clippings and leaves on your lawn; however, don't leave so many that you block out the sunlight the grass needs to photosynthesize.
Beer and Ammonia
- Mix together one cup of Epsom salts, one cup of ammonia and one cup of any non-flavored beer.
- Put the solution in a garden sprayer.
- Pump the sprayer as needed and apply the solution to your lawn.
If your lawn is larger than 500 square feet in size, a second batch will be required. This solution can kill bacteria and give the roots nutrients at the same time.
Collect used coffee grounds from your home, office or local coffee shop and sprinkle them over your lawn to replenish potassium and nitrogen.
Aerating your lawn helps promote healthy roots and improves water and nutrient absorption. You can either rent a commercial aerator or put on a pair of aerator sandals and walk across the lawn wearing them.
When you're finished, there will be dozens of holes in the sod, but these quickly disappear, leaving lots of space for earthworms and other beneficial organisms to do their job. Aerating prior to fertilizing creates space for the fertilizer to penetrate into the soil.
While insects may not be as big of a deal on a lawn as they are on a vegetable garden, they can still be a nuisance. Some natural ways to rid your yard of them are:
- Spraying the lawn with soapy water, such as the waste water left over from washing the dishes
- Spraying with a mixture of three tablespoons of laundry powder, a half cup of isopropyl alcohol and a quart of water
- Dicing one red pepper, one cup of mint leaves, one cup of horseradish leaves and one cup of green onion and mixing these vegetables with a half-gallon of water and two tablespoons of dish detergent and spraying the solution onto the lawn.
Organic Weed Killer
Organic vinegar is an excellent natural and biodegradable weed killer. All you have to do is spray a generous amount on each weed, both the stems and the leaves. Just be careful not to spray the vinegar on the grass, as it does not discriminate between different types of vegetation.
Available for Purchase
If you do not wish to make your own, you can purchase commercial lawn care products made with organic ingredients. Here are a few examples:
NaturaLawn Weed Killer
NaturaLawn Weed Killer is a mixture of clove oil, lemon juice and vinegar kills weeds on contact. It comes in 24-ounce and gallon-size bottles with a spray attachment and can be applied directly to grasses or broadleaf weeds. Repeat treatments may be necessary to completely kill the root system.
Jonathan Green Organic Insect Control
Made with all-natural essential oils, Jonathan Green Organic Insect Control mimics the way that plants defend themselves from insect invasion and is safe for children, pets and wildlife. It kills over 100 different pests and comes in a powdered form that continues repelling bugs long after it is applied. The 10-pound bag covers 5000 square feet.
Espoma Organic Fertilizers
Made from natural substances like poultry manure and feather meal, Espoma offers a complete line of lawn fertilizers formulated to provide the right balance of nutrients needed through the seasons. The addition of naturally derived minerals and microorganisms provides trace amounts of nutrients not found in synthetic fertilizers.
Earth Easy Corn Gluten Meal
Earth Easy Corn Gluten Meal is an organic weed killer and fertilizer in one. Corn has the surprising quality of preventing seeds from germinating and has a long history of use as an all-natural treatment for preventing weeds from appearing in established lawns. With 8 percent nitrogen, it also helps to keep the grass lush and green.
Keeping the Balance
A natural approach to lawn care is not about eliminating every last weed or insect that shows up or aspiring to have the most pristine lawn on the block. It's about cultivating healthy soil and a robust ecosystem that can fend for itself, while looking good and providing a place to relax and play.