Seasonal 1: March Forward to a Beautiful Lawn

Spring is finally here! Have you been looking out the window and wishing that you were out working in your yard, and being able to smell that nice earthy aroma, and having the warm sun on your shoulders?  To get you started, here are a few tips on spring lawn care.

One of the first steps to having a healthy lawn is to test your soil.  A basic soil test is simple and will let you know the acidity (pH) of the soil. The pH should be between 6.5 and 7.0, which is slightly acidic. The University of Connecticut Department of Plant Science gives 4 simple steps on how to collecting a soil sample.
 
1.  For each area you want tested, use a clean spade or trowel, and take 10 or more slices of soil from different spots throughout the area of interest. Dig from the surface on down to the depth shown here:

  • For grass the depth should be 3 to 4 inches
  • Flowers, vegetables and small fruits the depth should be 6 to 8 inches
  • Trees and shrubs the depth should be 8 to 10 inches
  • For lead testing only, the depth should be ½ to 2 inches

2.  Place the slices from each area you want tested in a clean bucket.
3.  Mix thoroughly and remove ONE CUP of soil for testing.
4.  Place the cup of soil in a plastic bag and seal securely with twist tie or “zipper” lock.

Follow steps 1 through 4 for each different area that you want tested. If you are sending in samples from more than one area, be sure to label each bag on the outside with a unique sample name or number. Your sample, along with questionnaire and fees may be sent in a mailing envelope or small box.”  www.soiltest.uconn.edu

If you see some bare spots on the lawn, planting grass seed is the best solution, the earlier in the spring the better. The overall best time to plant grass seed is in September, because there are cooler temperatures and is less weed competition then. If there is bare soil Mother Nature will fill a void, if there is bare soil she will plant a weed.  So plan your year. What areas look good, what areas need real attention come September ?

You can feed the lawn by raking some compost into it. About a ¼ inch of compost on the lawn will be a good amount. A good compost that is free of weed seeds is best. Compost can be tested for weed seed by putting some in a pot, watering it and seeing what grows.

Compost will increase the amount of water absorbed and will decrease the need for watering frequency. You can also save money and contribute less to landfills by composting your own biodegradable materials.

The article is submitted by NOFA Organic Land Care Program. CT NOFA (Connecticut chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association) promotes methods of farming, gardening, and land care that respect biodiversity, soil, water, air and the needs of future generations through education, support, and advocacy.

This seasonal lawn care article is meant to introduce homeowners to a more organic based care of lawns.  Using organic methods will benefit lawns and gardens, as well as helping to protect our lakes, rivers, oceans, and sources of drinking water from being contaminated by synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that run off from our lawns or seep into ground water.

The articles are made possible through the generous support from the Quinnipiac River Fund, The Watershed Fund, the Newman’s Own Foundation, and the Long Island Sound Future’s Fund. The article is authored, in part, by Dwight Brooks a professional landscaper, and Clara Buitrago, Program Coordinator, who is not a professional landscaper.

Please visit our web site to find more information and a NOFA Organic Accredited Landscaper near you. NOFA Organic Land Care program.    www.organiclandcare.net

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