Posts Tagged ‘organic’

Organic lawn care demystified

Published by mrgrass on March 13th, 2014 - in Compost Tea, Lawn Care Companies

There are many good reasons to consider adding organic treatments to your typical lawn care program.  Even if you have never thought about organic lawn care treatments, thought them pricey, or even useless; take a minute and consider the benefits to you and your landscape.  Before you select any organic lawn care treatment, it is a prudent to understand the benefits to your lawn, how companies differ, and the cost to you as a consumer.

Rabbit on a lawn

The benefits derived from organic turf care treatments are the easiest to explain because it simply makes sense in the big picture of how things grow and interact in the environment.  The core philosophy of organic lawn care begins with the soil and what lives within it; mainly living things.  A healthy soil should be filled with various bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and other microscopic friends.  The soil itself should contain organic matter which assists in water retention and provides a food source for our microscopic workers.  As our friends breakdown organic matter in the soil, vital nutrients and minerals are released and become available to our lawn.  A healthy soil will also have air pockets to help support plant roots ranging from trees and shrubs to of course, our lawns.  A lawn with air pockets and organic matter is less likely to be compacted and is more likely to hold onto anything applied to your lawn, from fertilizers to lime or other treatments.  Conversely, a sandy soil with lower organic matter or a compacted soil like those containing a high amount of clay are more likely to have runoff or allow products to move into or toward ground water.  As you can see, soil health and structure is very important when it comes to growing plants and can be the root of all problems, no matter how much money you throw at your landscape.  If your soil is out of balance, your lawn will be more susceptible to many issues ranging from disease, insects, weed infestation and more.  Soil health must be the foundation of any sound lawn care program from conventional, organic, or a combination of the two, also known as a hybrid system approach. Organic applications are simply the real deal in terms of improving the overall health of your lawn’s soil.

So how can we improve and then keep our soil healthy since it is the foundation of any lawn care program?  Vital organic treatments would include compost tea, high calcium lime, topdressing, aeration, over seeding, and even fertilizer.  Compost tea adds our microscopic friends to any soil and is sprayed on as an effective means to improve soil health.  Compost tea can also deliver organic matter and other food sources to enrich loam which would otherwise may be low in organic materials and therefore not as healthy.  High calcium lime provides a fast pH change in the lawn and is more potent than conventional limes.  High in calcium, this type of lime also assists in reducing compaction and interacts with organic matter for improved nutrient availability when surrounded by our microscopic friends.  Topdressing is an excellent way to add organic matter to your lawn while also creating a seed bed for filling in those bare or thin spots; a double bonus.  Followed up by aeration and over seeding, these two organic procedures do wonders for opening up the soil, allowing air to filter down and reduce soil compaction while promoting wonderful seed germination and a thickening agent to any lawn.  These are just the basic elements of Chippers organic lawn care program. There are many other organically oriented lawn care treatments we offer that can be viewed at for a complete services listing.  For now, let’s move on to differences in real field experience between lawn care companies.

Red shoes on an organic lawn

Choosing a company to do organic lawn treatments is no easy task.  After all, anyone with a pickup and some basic equipment can claim to have an organic lawn care program; but do they?  You should certainly consider real field experience in terms of how long have they actually done lawn treatments.  Did they purchase a franchise or have they been in the industry for years?  Does anyone in the company have a background or education in the turf industry as it relates to organic lawn care?  These are important questions and separate true professional turf care companies from those who simply don’t have the goods on paper or in reality.  One last cautionary tidbit, even an organic product used to “control” a lawn problem must be state licensed and certified in NH & VT.  Check to make sure the technician doing the work is licensed. Even organic products have the potential to cause harm in an inexperienced worker’s hands.  This all underlines the importance of experience, education, and what you as the end consumer will ultimately be paying for your lawn care service; organic or otherwise.  The classic adage, “you get what you pay for” could never ring so true.  A sincere and clear word of advice; ask the questions before you hire a lawn or landscape firm claiming to have the perfect program.

Our final topic ends with the cost to you as the consumer.  Whether you have a 100% organic lawn program, a hybrid version, or a conventional one sprinkled with some organic treatments; there are long- term cost benefits to using non mainstream lawn products.  For instance, a healthier soil requires less long- term inputs such as fertilizer.  Even though the cost per treatment can generally be more upfront to get your lawn to where you want it to be, the savings come after 3-4 years of following an organic approach.  I have seen benefits from incorporating even a few organic treatments annually into what we would consider a mainstream or conventional approach.

Dog on a lawn

Bottom line, if you mow properly, irrigate correctly when needed, have the right grass types present for your location, and support a healthy soil through a prescribed lawn program, you will have a nice lawn.  I will say it again, you will have a nice lawn, but these rules need to be followed like a prescription.  It is easy to just spray weeds and watch them disappear; it’s harder to properly improve your lawn’s overall health when so many other factors are at play.  Like any ecosystem or micro climate, changing the balance of one thing affects another.  Mow your lawn too short and boom, you just got crabgrass.  There is clearly a place for more organic lawn treatments in any community as it relates to reducing overall pesticide use as a real tool for landscape care.  Yes, the upfront cost may be more, but what is the long-term cost of doing the same thing year after year…with diminishing results?

Food for thought and I thank you for considering this article and others on our blog.  May spring come sooner than later!             


A look back at the 2012 lawn care season.

There is little disputing the 2012 growing season was a record breaker in more than one area.  Extreme heat and corresponding drought caused widespread damage to even well cared for lawns.  The effect of these weather phenomena then led to massive explosions of pests like grubs and chinch bugs.  Even with November fast approaching, the pest issues will spill over into the spring of 2013, and if left untreated, will continue to cause turf damage.  There is little that can be done for physical lawn repairs at this point in the growing season like bringing in new loam or trying to establish a lawn through seeding.  However, beneficial turf treatments applied now like potassium, lime, compost tea, sea kelp, and slow release fertilizer can help both a damaged and healthy lawn.  Lawn repairs ranging from small to full renovations should be explored now or at least during the winter months as landscapers and lawn care companies will be overwhelmed this spring by sheer volume of repairs necessary never mind pest treatments.  Timing could not be more critical in terms of seeding and treating for damaging turf and ornamental pests than the spring of 2013.  Even if the weather pattern returns to a more “normal” or stable pattern, the repercussions of this season’s heat and drought will continue into 2013.  Although brown grass in October can be a result of past drought and exposure to dry weather, it can also spell bug troubles in the surrounding lawn as grubs vigorously eat fast growing root systems.

Don't wait until the spring to make your lawn plans

I am seeing grubs in record setting numbers and on lawns which have never had a past issue.  While a curative treatment is only a short term fix, a preventative treatment in 2013 may well be in order for more lawns than previously expected.  I do not normally endorse the use of materials to preventatively protect against grubs, which in a normal year are rarely a huge issue unless past history indicates a problem.  However, I will be firmly endorsing both curative and preventative grub control on a case-by-case basis for 2013 because of the high risk factors recently experienced in New England.  Furthermore, another mild winter would further enhance tick populations in 2013 in addition to hundreds of other outdoor pests.  Make a note on your calendar to explore the potential health issues this winter and make plans, if deemed appropriate after speaking to professionals in the industry, such as Chippers.

On the bright side, the recent rain and cooler weather in combination with fall lawn treatments are helping damaged and weak lawns recover to the maximum degree possible before winter.  Don’t dismiss potassium, compost tea, and aeration after the harsh growing season we experienced this past year.  All of these treatments can be done well into November in most of New England so long as the ground does not freeze.

White grubs are eating your lawn without you knowing it!

In closing, don’t forget the millions of crabgrass seeds which were deposited in record numbers along driveways, patios, and walkways because of drought or insect damaged lawns.  Although a thick, healthy lawn is your best defense against crabgrass, some areas will not be up to the task without additional help of a preventative crabgrass barrier in the spring of 2013.  Timing will be key and a lot of good can be done in an eight week period next spring, so don’t file your lawn contract when it arrives this winter, review it carefully and setup a proactive plan to both protect and perhaps restore your home lawn for the investment it truly is!



Ten Reasons to improve your lawn in NH or VT

Published by JKeefe on January 25th, 2011 - in Lawn Care Companies, Misc.


The Environment #10 and #9

#10  A healthy lawn reduces water runoff and soil erosion which in turns protects our lakes and streams from sediment moving from the land into the water.  Turf is a living filter which protects ground water quality through a vast network of roots, thatch, and leaves.  There are many lawn products that can be used close to or up to the water without harming that ecosystem such as lime, kelp, and further back slow release products.

#9  A healthy lawn will absorb 6 times as much rainfall as a common hay-field.  A healthy lawn entraps pollutants and with the help of soil microbes, biodegrades them safely.  Coating grass seed with mycorrhizae improves turf defensive capabilities against insects and disease issues often reducing the need for fertilizer in a calendar year.  Compost tea is a perfect example of how to improve the soil and help your lawn simultaneously.


Functional Benefits #8 thru #4

#8  A healthy lawn dissipates heat and reduces the energy required to cool homes and buildings- thus saving energy.

#7  Turf grass abates noise and reduces glare.

#6  A mown lawn decreases disease carrying ticks and reduces fire hazards near wooded areas.

#5  Well maintained turf grass reduces injury from sports played at home, school, or elsewhere.

#4  A well cared for lawn is actually a low-cost asset that can be physically used or enjoyed for pure viewing pleasure.

Health  #3 thru #1

#3  Studies show the cycle of growing grass and the color green lift human spirits and provide both thoughts and feelings of happiness, privacy, and serenity.

#2  Well maintained turf is known to have therapeutic effects on humans as measured by heart rate and blood pressure- increasing recovery rate of hospital patients.

#1  Hiring a licensed, experienced turf professional will help you accomplish some if not all of the benefits above while insuring the job is done correctly.  Free up valuable time and spend it with your family or friends!

As you can gather, grass is simply more than just a lawn!  Winter is the perfect time to explore the advantages of utilizing the skills of your local turf care provider.  Perhaps this is the year to explore natural or organic products?  Stop guessing and wondering if you are putting down too much or too little material while wasting your valuable Saturday or Sunday.  Send that e-mail or make that phone call today and get your lawn on the right path in 2011.

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