If you live in a suburban area, you probably have a lawn. If you have used any form of weed killers, weed ' n ' feed, roundup, or any chemicals to get rid of the weeds, its important to know how they affect your children and you. Perhaps you have handed over the responsibility to a lawn care company and aren't even aware of the exact chemicals being used on your lawn.
The effects range from simple nose bleeds, allergies, neurological effects, to severe brain dis-function, cancers, Alzheimer’s. Children needing eye-glasses, attention disorders, autism spectrum disorders, all link back to pesticide exposure from our lawns. Even very little exposure has very strong effects on kids developing organs. Their bodies and organs absorb way more of these toxic chemicals than adults. Their effects are cumulative and can show up later in life.
It is possible to get a natural nontoxic low maintenance lawn! It's just a matter of knowing the steps. And the first step is knowing the soil composition.
The secret is in knowing and maintaining a particular soil composition.
A natural organic weed free lawn strives for balance. If you maintain the natural balance weeds naturally do not grow and grass is strong.
Synthetic fertilizers give plants quick bursts of nutrients that disrupt the delicate balance encouraging weeds and weakening grass
Get your lawn off drugs. The longer a lawn is on synthetic fertilizers, weed control products and insecticides, the weaker the lawn gets and the cost of maintenance increases over time.
An organic natural lawn gets easier and cheaper to maintain over time as the balanced soil and stronger grass are self sustaining. Here are 8 steps to get started.
1. Aerate every season - discourages many common weeds. Compacted soil is a welcome sign for weeds
2. Overseed - nature abhors a vacuum. When you over seed there is less space for weeds to creep in
3. Do a soil test. See images for balanced soil composition for natural lawn. Amend the soil appropriately with natural and organic elements. Pay particular attention to secondary and micro nutrients. Almost all the weeds are caused by an imbalance in these - usually too less calcium, low iron and too much phosphorus. This is the best way to get rid of weeds. The correct soil composition naturally deters weeds
4. Mechanically remove weeds or use an all natural non-selective weed remover (these are usually vinegar based. Regular vinegar is not strong enough. You need horticulture strength vinegar to get weeds. This will also get the grass so use with caution)
5. Water deep but infrequently. This makes the grass roots go deeper and get stronger
6. Mow higher allowing grass to get stronger.
7. Watch out for the calcium in the soil. Make sure its ratio is correct 7 parts calcium to 1 part magnesium
8. Be patient. Organic methods take longer to work as they amend the soil and work at solving the problem at the root unlike synthetic cures that work in 24-48 hours.
Just a little patience and you will be doing a world of good to your children, your self, and humanity.
The shift is not going to happen overnight. If you already have a weed free lawn but on herbicides, you can gently begin to take it off drugs and maintain the soil composition so it stays weed free.
Here is a link to an old NPR interview with Paul Tukey, author of the book The organic lawn care manual
NPR Interview with Paul Tukey