Eco-Friendly Fall Lawn Care Tips It's All About Fertilizing, Aerating, Weeding, Composting, Mowing & Planting
As the days become short and crisp, you might think that your lawn care chores are done. While the grass appears to be dying off and your flowers have wilted, don’t be fooled into thinking that your work is over. There are plenty of chores that must be done before the first frost in order to keep your lawn in tip-top shape for next year.
This can be tough to do if you’re trying to approach your lawn care tasks with an environmentally-conscious mindset. Taking care of your lawn often means spending hundreds of dollars on chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, or using gas-guzzling equipment to get the job done. Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take to ensure your lawn is healthy–without damaging the health of the rest of the planet in the process.
Fall is a good time to fertilize because it will help sustain your lawn throughout the winter and produce lush growth come spring. The most environmentally friendly way to produce a healthy lawn is to simply leave grass clippings on the lawn after mowing. This will provide a natural source of nitrogen to your soil.
Similarly, you can mow over fallen leaves with your mulching mower, and leave them on the ground to decompose. The small pieces produced with a mulcher will make it tough for mold or other debris to settle, and the leaves will acta s a natural fertilizer for your lawn.
Other easy, natural lawn fertilizers include aquarium fresh water (which has high levels of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen), fireplace ash, pine needles, and wood shavings.
Aeration should be done at least once a year, and fall is the best time to do it, as it will give grass access to much-needed nutrients throughout the year. Over the summer months, as your lawn receives more foot, vehicle, and other traffic, the soil becomes compacted. This makes it more difficult for plants to each vital nutrients, water, and air. Aerating your soil helps to loosen the soil, and is especially important if you are prone to having dense, waterlogged clay soils.
To aerate in an eco-friendly way, rent an electrical aerator from your local lawn care supply store. These are less harmful than gas-powered aerators. You can also choose to work the soil manually, with a tined rake, however doing so can take a substantial amount of time.
- Work on those weeds
Don’t bother with dangerous herbicides, which often kill the desired grass along with weeds. By using a chemical herbicide, you risk burning your grass and reducing the viability of its root systems. Instead, weed the lawn by hand for a fun, eco-friendly exercise. You can also use white vinegar as a natural herbicide, but be careful, as this can kill any plant it comes into contact with in the same way a chemical herbicide might.
Another option to control weeds? Make sure you take the time to overseed any bare areas in the fall. Each year, perform a quick inventory of your lawn to look for areas that may have been damaged by neglected lawn furniture, vehicle tracks, or pet waste, and add some seed to help encourage growth. Overseeding will protect the lawn for the winter months and also make it more difficult for unwanted weeds to develop.
- Compost your leaves
If you choose not to allow your leaves to remain on the grass to decompose, your other option to get rid of them is to compost them. Many people waste time and energy raking and bagging their leaves to be picked up by the trash collection agency. However, this is inefficient, as it creates an extra step for you and more waste that needs to be taken care of.
- Don’t stop mowing
You should not stop mowing your lawn just because it isn’t growing as quickly. Keep your grass no longer than two or three inches tall. Short grass will be more susceptible to cold snaps and may be more likely to grow snow mold. This will make it more difficult to control in the spring, often requiring the use of chemical fertilizers or herbicides. Instead, do the work now by keeping your lawn nice and trimmed.
- Use plants that drive away pests
Rather than resort to chemical forms of pest control, consider planting insect repelling plants in your garden and flowerbeds. There are a number of insect repelling plants, including Petunias, Lavender, Mint and Chrysanthemum.
By treating your lawn naturally, you increase the likelihood that it will be healthy and verdant in years to come. With a little extra forethought and elbow grease, your former environmentally-damaging lawn care practices will be a forgotten, unneeded notion from the past.
Sam Lambert is an outdoor living expert. Sam loves cultivating his own fruit and vegetables in his backyard. You might have seen Sam riding past you on a local dirt biking trail or climbing a nearby rock wall.