As you might know, our town, Ogunquit, went all organic about a year and a half ago. This was not some ‘government order’ – our voters wished for this. We are a small seaside town; anything someone puts on their lawn ends up eventually, through run off or groundwater, in the ocean.
When you make a change to an organic lawn and garden, it’s much more than just not dumping chemical fertilizers and pesticides on your property. All you have to do is remember how your lawns and gardens were growing up.
We never put anything on our lawns – did your mom and dad? – and I knew of no one who did – mowing neighbors’ lawns was my first job.
I mowed only when the grass needed mowing. Here, the lawn mowing companies mow weekly whether it’s June and the grass is growing like crazy, or in some of those hot spells in the middle of the summer, when lawns stop growing.
And they mow the grass very short, instead of leaving the grass at 3 inches or so. The owner of the company says he will only do what his customers want him to do, but he doesn’t explain to them, I guess, that mowing a lawn so the grass is so short, will harm a lawn as the summer heats up. Instead of leaving the clippings in the grass where they will provide nitrogen as they quickly decay into the soil, the clippings are sucked up and bagged.
Many of our neighbors have ‘watering systems’ and these automatic sprayers pop up out of the ground and water lawns a couple of times a day – all that does is to make for a shallow turf and that spells grubs. Your lawn needs about an inch of water a week – between you and Mom Nature, that’s easy – and you will have deeper turf and fewer grub problems.
My other caution has to do with making sure your mowers and your people using organic fertilizers and pesticides know each other’s schedules. The other day, the company using organics was here spreading corn gluten to combat the usual pests. A day later the mowers were here with their mowers sucking it up.
The old ways are sometimes the best, or so the saying goes, and in this case only mowing when the lawn needs mowing, leaving your lawn at least 3” high, leaving your grass clippings in the grass, and only watering if rains haven’t provided an inch of water for a week will provide for a healthy, deep rooted, and chemically free lawn, safe for you, your kids, and your pets.