Compost tea: many benefits for your lawn this spring
Maybe you are an avid lawn care consumer, sticking by tried and true products for years but are looking for that extra edge. Perhaps your lawn has seen better days and experienced a recent insect infestation or has a chronic disease issue. Would you like your lawn to green up faster in the spring? Is your soil compacted or do you have bare spots? While there is no miracle one size fits all cure to these ailments, they are all valid reasons to consider compost tea this year as a part of your normal lawn care program. Like most lawn care consumers, you just don’t know what compost tea is and really have not given it much thought. Maybe you thought compost tea was a new green age beverage to drink on a cold winter’s night? After all, if your current lawn provider does not offer the service, how important could it be? The simple answer, “Very”!
So what is compost tea? Compost tea in its simplest form is a liquid solution containing a variety of biological delights including but not limited to bacteria, fungi, protozoa, yeast, molasses, and water. Most teas are alive and need to be applied soon once mixed so the benefit is obtained by getting the tea into the soil when the root system is most active. Spring and fall are generally the best time periods to apply a compost tea although any time is better than none at all. Spring applications have the ability to improve resistance to summer stress which is a valuable benefit to your lawn.
Here are the cold facts. Conventional fertilizers are not particularly friendly to soil organisms which are part of any healthy ecosystem, your lawn included. When used over decades, a salt imbalance can and usually does occur, reducing helpful soil organisms over time. Without friendly organisms in your soil like earth worms, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, the balance changes and this imbalance is generally bad for a lawn. Healthy soil full of organisms support early spring greening, thatch reduction, air pockets for healthy roots, and degrade organic matter for themselves and your lawn’s use. Air pockets mean healthy roots can grow longer when the soil is less compacted. Air pockets mean water can be stored and drain better. Bottom line, a healthy soil environment supports a more resilient lawn able to tolerate stress like drought, heat, and winter cold. Spring compost tea in April and May fires up the soil and gets the lawn growing faster in cool climates; I’ve seen it work time and time again.
Compost tea helps stabilize your lawn’s soil, helping reduce disease issues when used as part of a well balanced lawn program or alone. Compost tea is not just for those who appreciate organic products and the benefits; this product has a wide range of uses that spreads into ornamental trees, shrubs, and even flowers. If your lawn is low in organic matter, a delightful way to add some over time is to use compost tea and recycle your own grass clippings when able to do so.
Compost tea has a place in any lawn care program and should not be dismissed simply because of its unfamiliarity or because it is not offered by large national chains. A healthy lawn and landscape can provide so much enjoyment during our short growing season here in New England; why not give your lawn what it needs to be the best and consider compost tea this year. Compost tea is not a miracle product or elixir but it does make a great companion to any lawn or landscape.