Janet Cramb & Company/LAER Realty Partners

Posted by Janet Cramb on 4/21/2021

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Every homeowner wants a beautiful lawn devoid of dandelions and unsightly brown patches. Unfortunately, hiring an organic lawn care service isn't always in the budget. However, there are some easy things you can do to manage and improve your lawn without breaking the bank or harming the environment. You can care for your lawn without poisoning the water table if you use safe methods to discourage pests and weeds. You'll boost the beauty of your grasses and gardens while allowing helpful organisms such as bees and earthworms to flourish. Use these four tips to give your lawn a boost:

1. Aerate Your Lawn Regularly

Roots need air, water and nutrients to grow strong and lush. This is why it's necessary to aerate areas of your lawn that have become compacted over time. This is especially important for newly constructed homes with lawns that are still trying to recover from the shock of heavy machinery. Early spring or fall is the best time to aerate soil because it allows time for new growth before the change in growing seasons. You'll want to wait for a drenching rain before you begin.

You can rent a lawn aerator from your local home supply store. You can even use something so simple as a pitchfork. Poke it into compacted areas and wiggle the handle back and forth to create large holes. Save work by choosing only the most compacted areas of your lawn for aeration.

2. Mow Your Lawn Frequently

Allow grass to grow to approximately 3 inches before mowing, then strive to maintain that ideal height. By mowing often, you'll generate short clippings that won't need raking. If you allow them to sink down into your soil, they'll become a natural source of food that acts as organic fertilizer.

You'll also want to sharpen the blades on your mower regularly. Dull blades damage grass blades, making them more susceptible to disease and infestation.

3. Water Your Grass Efficiently

Over watering your lawn may be just as damaging as allowing it to dry out. For best results, only water when you can see footprints in the grass. But when you do water, water deeply and thoroughly. Do your best to plan around the weather by making allowances for wet days instead of sticking to a rigid schedule.

4. Use Lawn Chemicals Sparingly

If you take good care of your lawn, it will defeat weeds naturally. Most weeds that infest lawns thrive on neglect. So if you pay careful attention to maintaining a lush, green carpet, you've already won half the battle. If you do decide you need the help of pesticides or fertilizers, shop from the organic section of your home supply store. You can even make your own using ingredients like boiling water, vinegar or salt. These common household materials kill weeds without leeching toxic chemicals and carcinogens into the ground. For fertilizer, start a compost pile in your backyard and feed it regularly with vegetable clippings, leaves, coffee grounds and more. As it decays and turns to compost, you can spread it in thin layers on the weakest parts of your lawn to green them up beautifully.

If you keep up with your lawn in an eco-friendly way you'll see a natural resurgence of beneficial wildlife such as beetles, honey bees and earthworms. These creatures will help you keep the soil aerated and discourage harmful pests.

Posted by Janet Cramb on 10/18/2017

planting flowersWe all want our yard to look perfect, or at least better than the neighbor's. But taking care of the yard takes a lot of work and many of us come to depend on harsh weedkillers or insect deterrents to keep the yard looking pristine. What many don't know is that there are other, more eco-friendly options that will keep the pests at bay. Better yet, many of these solutions are easily made from household items. Follow these tips to keep your yard looking great without filling the ground and air with chemicals.

Killing weeds

What is a weed? Ralph Waldo Emerson lovingly describes a weed as "a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." While this may be true, it doesn't mean we have to let them take over our grass each year. Weeds are invasive because they spread--quickly--and kill off the plants and grasses we want in their place. To combat weeds there's no need for harsh chemicals that harm your yard and break your wallet. Instead, try diluting some white vinegar with water and pouring it on the weeds. This should take care of most of the weeds. However, the vinegar will drastically change the pH of your soil, so you don't want to rely on this for the rest of the season. The next time you see a weed popping up, pour some boiling water directly on it. It will kill the weed but keep your soil healthy so your grass or flowers can keep growing normally.

Insect deterrent

Having bugs in your yard is a good thing. They're part of the natural ecosystem that helps maintain your soil and pollenate your plants. Sometimes, however, insects can become invasive and destructive to the vegetation in your yard. If you notice beetles eating all of your plants' leaves, dilute some plain Dawn dish soap with water and spray it onto the infected leaves. The soap won't harm your plants but it will drive the beetles crazy, sending them off to someone else's yard. Nature has its own insecticides that few of us take advantage of. Plant marigolds, for example, around the perimeter of your property to deter scores of insects and other pests from ever entering your yard. See this helpful list for many other pest controlling plants.

Bug Repellant

We've talked a lot about protecting your yard from invasive pests. But what about protecting yourself? Whether it's pesky flies or biting mosquitos, there are many natural ways to keep the bugs away when you're out in the yard. Most effective commercial insect repellants contain DEET, a strong smelling chemical insecticide. We've all heard about the dangers of DEET, which was developed by the U.S. Army in the 1940s for use in warfare. The chemical compound has been approved and re-approved for use by the EPA since then, but studies have raised questions of its safety. Many people object to using DEET based on its potent smell alone. So, what are the alternatives? Many have taken the bug spray conundrum into their own hands, mixing various herbs and essential oils to keep the bugs away. Check out these recipes and let us know which one works for you!