Property owners faced with the prospect of enlisting ongoing maintenance for their landscape installation are often tasked with weighing the benefits and drawbacks of organic lawn care as a viable option.
It’s important to be armed with the appropriate facts as you consider the optimal approach for your own property, from the intricacies of the process itself to a few common misconceptions regarding traditional weed prevention.
Organic Lawn Care: A Holistic, Hands On Approach
Organic lawn care, by definition, is designed to cultivate softscape without the use of synthetic chemicals. A holistic method which begins with and revolves around the soil itself, the primary purpose of organic care is to fortify and build up the soil to nourish plant life and vegetation from below.
Deference to the ecosystem is paramount, with special emphasis placed on biodiversity, crop rotation and compost, coupled with restrictions on the use of any manufactured fertilizers, pesticides, growth accelerants, and regulators. Organic ideology promotes the importance of working with the pests present, as these ultimately serve to support pollinators.
Rather than employing a “quick fix” to kill those components seen as threats to crops, organic lawn care stakes its claim on the twin pillars of anticipation and prevention, utilizing a long-view, bigger-picture perspective in its approach to gardening and landscape design. Organic matter can contain such useful organisms as microbes, worms, fungi, decaying vegetation, and animal tissue—each of which plays a role in strengthening plants against natural menaces such as flooding, drought, disease, and predation.
The Organic Process, Explained
So what, exactly, does organic lawn maintenance entail? Often used to limit the environmental impact of landscape design, this type of care works to reduce water consumption, avoid the application of chemical pesticides, and provide consistent support to friendly neighborhood pollinators in the vicinity. Such minimal use of chemicals naturally leads to healthier grasses and plants, cleaner water, and more nutrient-rich soils—all of which encourages safety for humans, pets, and the foliage itself.
Some environmentally beneficial alternatives include the use of grass clippings and fallen leaves, both of which can be applied to lawns and nearby flower beds and vegetable gardens, serving as an organic fertilizer and—in the case of leaf compost—a natural source of mulch. Less waste also means excess nutrients available for butterflies, insects, birds, and other small animals, each of whom feeds off the nectar, pollen, and seeds from discarded vegetation.
By maximizing all components of your softscape, not only will your property require less irrigation, fertilizer, and pruning over time; but these conservation efforts will also go a long way in supporting the surrounding ecology.
The Best of Both Worlds
For all the benefits of organic maintenance, it is equally important to note that many landscapers will often recommend a hybrid care regimen, employing a combination of traditional practices with these more holistic approaches.
Application of pre-emergent weed prevention, per the instructions on the label, is not inherently unsafe, nor is it ineffective in conjunction with organic fertilizers. In instances where weeds may manifest through cracks in the pavement, and other hardscape elements, it’s far more effective to tackle them with a solution of vinegar and salt than to douse with a hearty weed killer.
The ideal scenario, through practicing anticipation and prevention, is to limit situations where harsher methods of weed extermination are required. Over the course of several seasons, this hybrid method can gradually transition to a completely organic maintenance protocol.