Organic Lawn Care Tips, Fertilisers, Weed Killers and Control Methods
A little knowledge like fertiliser goes such a long way.
If your lawn is full of weeds patchy brown and lifeless there are several things you can do to fix it organically and sustainably without using chemical.
The key to the lawn care is competition - promoting the good guys (the grass) and defeating the bad guys (the weeds). The simple strategy is to stimulate the grass to outgrow and squeeze out the weeds.
To do this you need to understand the differences between grass and weeds and what they both need to grow.
Directly killing weeds organically will also help along with judicial fertiliser use. This article will transform your grass paddock to a beautiful green lawn that is a picture of health and vitality.
Lets start with the basics:
- How much good surface soil do you have, and is it thick enough to grow grass effectively? Surprisingly grass has very deep roots, which is a key factor in controlling weeds. Grasses halve evolved to be eaten off by animals down to the roots and to be burnt off regularly and spring up again. But grass needs adequate soil depth about 4 inches (10 cm) for a good lawn and 8 or more inches (20 cm) for a great lawn. If you have too little soil depth you are going to struggle.
- When you cut your grass cut it on a high setting (2 to 4 inches; 5 -10 cm). This keeps your grass growing vigorously and makes it more resilient to hot weather and drying periods. It also helps the grass out-compete the weeds. Shade is one of the best ways of controlling plant growth and grass can strangle the weeds if its growing vigorously.
- Water your grass only when it needs water. Get a soil moisture meter and test it. Water infrequently and very thoroughly. This makes sure that the deep layers in the soil get water. Grass can access these deep layers whereas weeds can't. Deep watering also helps the grass grow vigorously.
- Fertilize with a good quality organic fertilizer in the spring and fall and spring. Try to choose one that is slow-release and keeps working for long periods.
- Test the pH of your soil properly. Add gardener's sulfur if it is above 7.0. and a little lime if it is below 6.0 to ensure the soil has a neutral pH (6.5). Dandelions do best when the pH is about 7.5. so controlling he pH will help beat the weeds
- If you have a major weed infestation, mowing the lawn a little lower and twice as often as you normally do. The vulnerable buds and growing point of your grass plants is at the soil surface. Fore most weeds the vulnerable growing point is near the top of the plant. This won't work for flat weeds but it help to control most weeds.
- When mowing, if possible leave the clippings on the lawn as mulch. The clippings add nutrients and organic matter replenishing the soil. They also provide shading and may sop some weed seedlings
Lawn Care Fertilizer
Grass is a nitrogen hungry. Apply a good quality organic fertiliser at the beginning of spring and the end of summer. Many grass species are dormant in either summer or winter and so fertilising at these times only fertilises the weeds.
Adding Topsoil and Aerating the Soil
If your lawn is lifeless it may be because the soil has become compacted. You can hire lawn corers that punch a series of small holes in the lawn that allow the air to penetrate. You can also look at top-dressing your lawn. However always use good quality soil that is free of weeds.
Killing and Controlling Weeds
Persistent and deep-rooted weeds may need to be physically removed by digging them out. If digging out the roots is going to create too much mess just remove the green parts at the top and keep removing the new shoots that crop up. Eventually it will run out of reserves and die.
Boiling water - Very hot water will kill many weeds, especially after several applications. It is simple to use and inexpensive. It works well for soft annual weeds and can help control perennial weeds if you are persistent. The water needs to be extremely hot and so use a thermos to transfer the hot water to the garden. If you have a serious weed problem then one of those steam cleaner units is a wonderful way to do it. Steam works much better than hot water. However it may be hard to prevent scalding the surrounding grass and this may be a drastic measure. Boiling water will not harm the soil.
Organic Bleach - If you regard bleach as organic it can be an effective weed killer. Pour a little bleach in a spray bottle, or use the spray contained sold with the bleach and spray liberally on the weed you wish to terminate. The bleach chemicals will dissipate or evaporate after a couple of days.
Vinegar - Vinegar, either white, brown or cider varieties, is a wonderful organic homemade weed killer. Simply fill a spray bottle with 3 parts vinegar to one part dishwashing liquid (optional). Vinegar is an acid and it kills vegetation but not roots and so several applications may be required.
Baking Soda - Sprinkle small amounts of baking soda directly onto the weeds. It is strongly alkaline and will burn the plants.
Baking Soda and Vinegar - This combination is a very effective cleaning agent for heavy duty cleaning such as drains and toilets. Baling soda is an alkali and vinegar is an acid so when combined there is a violent fizzing action. Simply spoon baking soda onto the weeds and add an equal part by volume of vinegar.
Borax - is another very effective weed killer
Salt - can be used to kill weeds but t is not very strong and may ruin the soil
Vodka - For a quick and rather expensive weed killer, mix 1 ounce (30 ml) of cheap vodka with a few drops dish washing liquid and 2 cups water in a spray bottle. Spray it on the leaves of the weeds until wet all over. Spraying at midday on a hot day increases it effectiveness.
Rubbing Alcohol and Mentholated Spirits - This is a lot less expensive than Vodka but works very well and is a natural product. Add a few drops of diluted washing liquid to help it wet the leaves, and apply a liberal soaking.
Flame thrower - Don't laugh this is serious. You can get various accessories for gas bottles used for outdoor barbeques for removing paint (large head) and for soldering (small head). Attach the unit to along handle and start burning the hell out of the weed. Focus on the core of the plant to try to kill the buds. It make take several burns to completely kill the weeds. If you don't like the black spots. cover them with soil or lawn clippings. This is very effective and make you feel good!
© 2011 Dr. John Anderson
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