You may have heard of the benefits to the human body of yogurt containing probiotics. A well-made compost tea can benefit your lawn in many of the same ways; it’s a probiotic for turf health. Compost tea is an effective bio-nutritional spray applied to lawns designed significantly to improve resistance to insect and disease damage. Tea is typically made by brewing many ingredients along with sugars, organic matter, nutrients, and micro-organisms to produce a living end-product desirable for improved soil and plant health. Tea makes otherwise poor or dead soil come alive through a series of spray applications and keeps already healthy lawns healthy. Unfortunately, mainstream lawn care customers have not heard of or understand the real benefits derived from using compost tea on their lawns. Here is the inside scoop from a turf veteran of 27 years.
Compost teas vary in benefits according to manufacturer, handling, and ingredients. Most teas are designed to deliver micro-organisms into the soil which in turn helps the turf grow better. These little creatures vary in type and content but can include bacteria, fungi, protozoa, yeast, and nematodes. Depending upon the content and strains blended, compost tea adds life to a soil which is likely unhealthy. These micro-organisms are vital when it comes to grass roots capturing nutrients found in the soil. Turf is known as a bacteria loving plant because these tiny organisms help provide, and in some cases, capture nutrients which would either be reduced or impossible to access within the soil.
Most teas also are designed to deliver valuable organic matter in a variety of sources and benefits not only to the grass, but again, the soil environment itself. You may have gathered by my introduction that soil health is more important than most people realize. Although fertilizers and other products can help improve a lawn faster and more dramatically, compost tea works on the problem itself, bad dirt. Yes, bad dirt can range from sandy soil in a new lawn, to one compacted by excessive use, or one very high in silt and water logged. Remember, grass roots grow in the air pockets in the soil and extract nutrition from the surrounding soil particles. If those air pockets are filled with water or are small, grass will not grow well and will be thin or die off completely, resulting in bare patches. Compost tea, at its simplest form, seeks to not only provide organic matter which increases nutrition and healthy air pockets for lush growth, but add life through a variety of important micro-organisms.
Chippers has used compost tea in our lawn program for some years now and have seen the benefits described. In addition it provides an earlier spring green up, not from warm soil, but from enhanced microbial activity. This season, we are adding a second blend of compost tea which will allow water front or shore land lawns to be safely treated, unlike the prohibited fertilizers containing phosphorus and other conventional products. This is exciting news because Chippers will be the first in NH and VT to provide a quality alternative to those folks on lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams; many which are vacation homes and are used for recreational use during the summer. Applying compost tea to these water front lawns in combination with lime, aeration, and overseeing will yield a healthier, greener lawn and remain in harmony with the environment by avoiding fertilizers and pesticides in and around our sensitive waterways. You can treat your lawn organically and still have great results. Compost tea will continue to gain popularity as a substitute or enhancement to conventional fertilizers as time progresses. Since our compost tea is alive and fresh, I can hardly wait for spring and the ability to improve lawns in both NH and VT.