The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. That's the old adage, and it's never more true than when you're trying to coax the grass outside your home into some semblance of order. Looking over into the neighbor's yards will invariably reveal lush, vibrantly green lawns without brown spots or patchy places. If you've ever wondered how your neighbors ended up with such nice yards, we can give you a peek into their secret ways.
Invariably, any time you see a perfect lawn you can be sure it's soaked with chemicals like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are designed to kill weeds and insects, increase color, and promote growth. These chemicals can be purchased from a home store and applied by the owner with a backpack sprayer or a professional lawn care company might be called to their home to spray the whole thing.
Using chemicals to obtain a perfect lawn is like making a deal with the devil. In exchange for a perfect lawn, these chemicals pollute groundwater and runoff, killing fish, threatening native flowers, and causing riotous weed growth around lakes and ponds. These chemicals also settle onto all of the items outside, like lawn furniture and toys, seeping into skin and causing cancer and immune deficiencies in people and pets. For this reason many municipalities are banning lawn chemicals.
Luckily there are other ways to improve the look and health of your lawn. "First, instead of planting whatever exotic plants are currently trendy, find out what plants suit the climate and soil and landscape with those. Weed by hand or with organic weed killers such as cinnamon bark crabgrass killer. Aerate your lawn to keep it healthy and use your compost to feed it. Remove the leaves and flowers from dandelions to keep them from spreading and let rain do the work when it comes to watering." says Adam Ghent, from The Ghent Group landscaping company in Kitchener, Ontario (theghentgroup.com).
If your lawn is in really bad shape you may have to transplant sod (full grown grass) onto your lawn, or if you're patient, start from seed. Make sure to start out on the right foot by choosing an organic option that's not laced with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Don't worry about bugs, worms, or clover. These are essential to a naturally healthy lawn.