What Comprises a Natural, Healthy Lawn?
It might seem like lawn and garden care is a surface level undertaking, however, that is a common misconception. One of the most critical aspects of maintaining a lawn is soil quality. It not only affects plant and grass growth but also the health of the microorganisms that provide nutrients to the soil.
Why Is Healthy Soil So Important?
Let’s start with the basics. Healthy soil must be high in organic content. You cannot grow living plants from seeds if the soil is barren or lacking the proper nutrients. High-quality soil does three things for any plant growing within it:
- Feeds – When soil is well-cared for, it helps plants create more nutrients, such as protein. There are billions of microorganisms that live in the soil which produce amino acids. Plants convert the amino acids to protein which nourishes any animal that eats those plants. If soil becomes neglected, these nutrient producing organisms will die.
- Cleans – The more plants you have, the more clean air is produced. In addition, nutrient-dense soil produces less dust. Neglected soil is much looser which can contribute to erosion, air pollution, and can have disastrous effects on the environment!
- Protects – Plants need soil to be dense enough to develop deep root systems for stability and just soft enough to develop far-reaching root systems. Looser soil poses a danger to supporting plants and their root systems. Nourished soil also leads to healthier plants. The bacteria and fungi that take up residence in healthy soil provide a natural defense system against disease.
What are Fertilizers?
These essential lawn and garden items can be synthetic / chemical or natural with the sole purpose of enhancing the fertility of the soil. They are designed to improve the growth and productivity of each plant that grows within the fertilized soil.
It is important to keep in mind that fertilizers may change the pH levels in soil which can affect your plants and lawn. Potential for hydrogen (pH) is a measurement used to determine how acidic or alkaline something is. The scale ranges from 0-14 where 0-6.9 are considered acidic, 7 is neutral, and 7.1-14 are alkaline. Grass typically grows in soil with a pH around 6.5.
Most fertilizers affect pH levels due to the amount and type of nitrogen in the fertilizer. Phosphorus levels also affect pH but have much less of an impact compared to nitrogen. By looking at product labels or talking to store experts, you can determine the best fertilizer for your lawn.
Chemical/Synthetic Fertilizers and Pesticides
Chemical fertilizers have been popular with homeowners for decades. They provide plants with a set number of nutrients they need to grow quickly. However, most chemical fertilizers are very acidic and can be unsafe to touch with your bare hands and are not safe to use around children and pets.
In addition to fertilizers, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year by homeowners for their lawn care regimen. Pesticides work to rid plants of any bugs that they come into contact with but kill both beneficial and harmful insects.
Organic fertilizers contain essential nutrients for plants but also replenish the soil sustainably. They are composed of naturally-derived protein sources, such as soybeans, that do not leave harmful chemicals in the soil. Unlike their chemical counterpart, organic fertilizers treat not only the plant but the soil as well to create a long-term solution for your lawn and garden.
Chemical Vs. Organic Fertilizers
There are a massive number of differences between chemical and organic fertilizers. While both have pros and cons, there is a clear winner which is more beneficial for the long-term health of your lawn and garden as well as the environment.
Chemical FertilizersPros and Cons of Using Chemical Fertilizers
Organic FertilizersPros and Cons of Using Organic Fertilizers
upfront costs Made from naturally derived sources
Why Choose Organic Lawn Care
Chemical fertilizers are notorious for killing off insects and microorganisms. While this might seem like a good thing, it can have catastrophic effects. Insects might not seem like a welcome guest in your yard, but many are considered beneficial to plant growth. There are also microorganisms living in the soil which provide nutrients for plants and also function to improve soil quality and plant health. Organic fertilizers do not contain the same harmful chemicals that kill helpful insects. Instead, they replenish the soil with nutrients and assist in creating a healthy environment in which beneficial microorganisms can grow.
Organic fertilizers affect the soil as well as plants for a complete treatment. Chemical fertilizers only treat the plant by improving growth speeds. By not treating the soil, these types of fertilizers leach the soil of essential nutrients, whereas organic fertilizers consistently add nutrients and improve soil quality while also improving growth speeds and productivity.
When chemical fertilizers enter the soil, they can have harmful effects on the environment. Without adding nutrients to the soil, dirt can become looser and more vulnerable to adverse weather. In short, chemicals may run off into ground water or sewers and contribute to water pollution. Loose soil also creates a perfect environment for erosion. Luckily, organic fertilizers can help solve all of these issues without shocking plants with chemicals. Using ingredients like grains and soybeans, organic fertilizers strengthen soil by releasing essential nutrients. The constant supply of nutrients encourages plants to grow deeper roots systems. This keeps plants stable and prevents erosion.
With continual use, your entire yard can become much healthier. Properly nourished plants are much more resistant to diseases and weeds. If your lawn has been plagued by disease and weeds, it might be time to invest in an organic lawn care regimen to strengthen the quality of soil and the health of your grass.
Without all of those toxic chemicals, you can rest assured that your lawn is safe for children and pets. Organic fertilizers are made with naturally derived proteins that are found in nature. As with all lawn care regimens, it is best not to allow pets or children to eat treated grass. Wash hands and paws to prevent any mishaps.
One of the most common deterrents of switching to organic fertilizers is cost. Don’t worry, there is a bright side. Chemical fertilizers will save you money, only in the short-term. Because of the negative side effects they inflict on soil, you must continue to spend money to get the same results. Organic fertilizers save you both time and money in the long-term. As the fertilizer improves your soil, you will need to buy less over time. You will also spend less time in your yard applying fertilizer and other products. Nature will take care of the rest.
Lawn Care Tips
Now that you are much more informed about how to efficiently and sustainably care for your lawn, take a look below for more expert lawn care tips. Soon enough you will be the envy of all your neighbors when they see how much healthier and environmentally-friendly their lawns can be.
- Get Your Soil Tested – It is important to have a lawn with a balanced pH. In order to have a lush, green lawn, you must create the optimal growing conditions. Tests are inexpensive, simple to use, and can mean the difference between success or failure.
- Control Pests Before They Become an Infestation – It is crucial to protect your plants before they are past the point of no return. At the first sign of damage, treat your plants with an organic insecticide or bug repellent.
- Water Lawns Early or Later in the Day to Avoid Evaporation – Watering plants during peak sunlight hours can cost you money on your water bill. Water your lawn or garden before the sun reaches its highest point to ensure your plants have time to soak up the water before it evaporates.
- Avoid Cutting Grass Too Short – Cutting grass too short can weaken a lawn. Soil also becomes more exposed creating not only dry soil but more surface area for weeds to sneak in. Remember that when you cut grass too short, you may be hindering its photosynthesis process and creating a weaker lawn.
- Sharpen Mower Blades Regularly – Dull mower blades do not cut grass cleanly. Instead, they tear grass which leaves openings for bugs to lay eggs and an easy route for diseases to invade.
- Leave Grass Longer in Shady Areas – Grass and plants in shady areas need more surface area exposed to undergo photosynthesis as efficiently as plants that receive lots of direct sunlight. Leave grass a little longer in areas that do not get as much exposure.
- Start Grasscycling – It’s so tempting to rake up grass clippings after mowing a yard. While your lawn might look cleaner, you can save time and effort by leaving them. Grass clippings provide up to 25% of a lawn’s nutrient needs when they decompose, so it’s actually better for you and your lawn if you leave them!
- Mow in Different Patterns – Spice up your lawn mowing chores! It might seem like an odd way to improve your lawn, but it actually helps keep soil from getting overly compacted or developing ruts.
Choose the Lawn Care Regimen That is Right for You
More and more homeowners are becoming concerned about the effects of using certain types of fertilizers and other lawn care products. Using a fertilizer that is safe, effective, cost efficient, and easy to use is essential. With Safer® Brand products you don’t have to worry. Our products are natural and free from man-made synthetic materials, so you can rest assured that your lawn will soon return to a healthier and more nourished state.