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The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply

The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply

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The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply

4.5/5 (3 valutazioni)
347 pagine
3 ore
Apr 27, 2011


Your lawn is a representative of you and your home it shows your neighbors and visitors how much time and effort you are willing to put into keeping your home looking good. Organic lawn care is becoming much more prevalent for many home owners, but knowing how to effectively plant and grow a lawn, keep weeds away and kill bugs without using chemicals and unnatural law products can be complicated and downright confusing in many cases. This book was written with these things in mind, guiding every lawn care enthusiast through the steps needed to continue caring for a lawn without letting the concerns that develop because of unnatural products overwhelm you or your lawn. The keys to organic lawn care, starting with how to create a low maintenance lawn are laid out in great detail in this book. You will learn how to keep your lawn healthy with the right soil, seed, sod, and feeding without using any chemically enhanced products. Finally, learn how to change your existing lawn so that it is both environmentally sound and just as beautiful as it has always been. The final step in the process will show you how to deal with pests, disease and weeds in your lawn organically. Lawn experts in every field have been interviewed for this book and their advice has been included to provide specific, top tips for organic lawn care. Anyone looking to maintain their lawn and stay eco-conscious need look no further than this book.

Atlantic Publishing is a small, independent publishing company based in Ocala, Florida. Founded over twenty years ago in the company president’s garage, Atlantic Publishing has grown to become a renowned resource for non-fiction books. Today, over 450 titles are in print covering subjects such as small business, healthy living, management, finance, careers, and real estate. Atlantic Publishing prides itself on producing award winning, high-quality manuals that give readers up-to-date, pertinent information, real-world examples, and case studies with expert advice. Every book has resources, contact information, and web sites of the products or companies discussed.

This Atlantic Publishing eBook was professionally written, edited, fact checked, proofed and designed. You receive the same content as the print version of this book. Over the years our books have won dozens of book awards for content, cover design and interior design including the prestigious Benjamin Franklin award for excellence in publishing. We are proud of the high quality of our books and hope you will enjoy this eBook version.

Apr 27, 2011

Informazioni sull'autore

Sandy Baker writes, gardens, and crafts. In 2012, she co-authored with Tom Reed an international thriller with a nuclear component, The Tehran Triangle. However, she's focused right now on kid gardening books with a plot. First came Mrs. Feeny and the Grubby Garden Gang; then Zack's Zany Zucchiniland; and in 2013 The Dead Butterfly Diary and Color My Garden. Sandy has a large pile of poems that will eventually become a published collection for teens (and their moms). And she's also working on a sequel to Reed's and her thriller, tentatively entitled Tehran Revenge.

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The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care - Sandy Baker

The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply

Copyright © 2011 Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.

1405 SW 6th Avenue • Ocala, Florida 34471 • Phone 800-814-1132 • Fax 352-622-1875

Website: • E-mail:

SAN Number: 268-1250

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without the prior written permission of the Publisher. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be sent to Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc., 1405 SW 6th Avenue, Ocala, Florida 34471.

Baker, Sandy Ann, 1976-

The complete guide to organic lawn care : everything you need to know explained simply / by: Sandy Baker.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60138-367-9 (alk. paper)

ISBN-10: 1-60138-367-3 (alk. paper)

1. Lawns. 2. Organic gardening. I. Title.

SB433.B135 2011



LIMIT OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY: The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. The fact that an organization or website is referred to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of further information does not mean that the author or the publisher endorses the information the organization or website may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware that Internet websites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read.

TRADEMARK DISCLAIMER: All trademarks, trade names, or logos mentioned or used are the property of their respective owners and are used only to directly describe the products being provided. Every effort has been made to properly capitalize, punctuate, identify, and attribute trademarks and trade names to their respective owners, including the use of ® and ™ wherever possible and practical. Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc. is not a partner, affiliate, or licensee with the holders of said trademarks.

Printed in the United States

PROJECT MANAGER: Amy Moczynski •

INTERIOR LAYOUT: Antoinette D’Amore •

PROOFREADER: Gretchen Pressley •

COVER DESIGN: Meg Buchner •

BACK COVER DESIGN: Jackie Miller •


I would like to thank all of those who worked hard to make this book

happen, including Douglas Brown and Amy Moczynski, who both worked with me to complete this guide. In addition, I would like to thank my family and friends for their support and encouragement throughout the process.


I dedicate this book to my patient husband, Owen, and to my three kids, Christin, Andrew, and Matthew, whom I cherish.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Time is Right for Organic Lawn Care

Chapter 1: What is Organic Lawn Care?

Chapter 2: Healthy Soil

Chapter 3: The Right Grass

Chapter 4: Organic Fertilizers

Chapter 5: Easy Organic Lawn Care

Chapter 6: Starting an Organic Lawn from Scratch

Chapter 7: Rehabilitating a Lawn

Chapter 8: Transitioning a Lawn to Organic

Chapter 9: Water and the Natural Lawn

Chapter 10: Getting Control of Weeds and Pests

Chapter 11: Mowing Your Lawn the Right Way


Appendix A: Commercial Organic Herbicides

Appendix B: Reference Guide for Organic Lawn Care Throughout the Year

Appendix C: Homemade Organic Pesticides

Appendix D: Homemade Organic Herbicides



Author Biography

Introduction: The Time Is Right for Organic Lawn Care

I f you have made the decision to cut back on the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and weed killers on your home’s lawn because of the harm they may cause not only to the environment but also to your family and pets, then you are among a fast-growing number of Americans concerned enough to do something about it. Surveys conducted by the National Gardening Association (NGA) revealed that as many as 12 million households were applying natural products exclusively to their lawns and gardens in 2008, a whopping 42 percent increase from the 5 million homes reported in 2004. The NGA suggests that this number could rise to as many as 17 million in the coming years as more Americans begin using environmentally friendly methods on their lawns and gardens. The time is right to start thinking seriously about what you can do in your own backyard to have a positive, global impact on the health of our planet and all of its inhabitants.

You may want to make this transition but are unsure of where to begin. This book will show you step by step how to create a beautiful and healthy lawn. After reading this book, you will have all of the information you need to do as little or as much as you can take on, whether you decide to take a few simple but critical steps to improve the health of your lawn or create an organic lawn from scratch.

Using the environmentally friendly lawn care methods and products that support the soil and surrounding environment are necessary to create and maintain a healthy, beautiful lawn. Organic lawn care is often about what not to apply to a lawn. Slightly altering your routine can result in profound results and require less effort than your previous lawn care regime.

However you decide to proceed, this book will be your companion along the way, guiding you from first step to the last as you do your part to create a safe haven for your family and help make Earth a healthy place to live.

About This Book

Making the transition from a synthetic lawn to a natural or organic lawn may appear at first glance to be an overwhelming undertaking. To help ease the way, this book has been carefully organized to make the process understandable and achievable.

Chapters 1 through 4 explain why organic lawn care is so critical, including the essential ingredients for any organic lawn. With this information in hand, you will be guided through the steps you need to take to not only convert your synthetic lawn to an organic one, which is discussed in Chapters 5 through 8, but also to maintain it without resorting to toxic chemicals or outmoded lawn care methods that can damage your lawn, which is discussed in Chapters 9 through 12. Finally, supplemental resources and a bibliography are included at the end of the book to provide you with additional information on organic lawn care that you may find helpful.

How to Use This Book

It is recommended that you read the first four chapters, which serve as a foundation for the rest of the book and will help you understand why you are doing what you are doing. Then, select the chapter (5, 6, or 7) that best represents the option you have chosen to create your organic lawn. Make sure to read it in its entirety before you begin the actual work.

The detailed table of contents and index will help you find information quickly, making this book an excellent reference that you will return to again and again.

{Table of Contents}

Chapter 1: What Is Organic Lawn Care?

I t is important to begin by defining all of the terms associated with organic lawn care so you understand exactly how to use the terms in this specific context. Each term — organic, lawn, and care — may mean different things to different people in different situations. It is important to clarify what these terms mean to prevent any confusion.

The term organic means any natural substance derived from an animal, plant, or mineral source. The opposite of organic or natural would be synthetic or artificial, which refers to any substance produced in a laboratory using some form of human intervention. This distinction is important to note because a lawn, by its very nature, is an artificial creation that cannot exist without human intervention. But, in the case of organic lawn care, human intervention is used to create an environment that mimics a natural environment as much as possible and focuses on the long-term health of the lawn and its surroundings, often at the expense of such short-term rewards as uniformly and intensely green or fast-growing grass.

Another important distinction to note is organic or natural does not necessarily mean nontoxic. Nontoxic refers to substances safe to touch with bare hands that will not harm the body of a human or animal. Many naturally occurring substances are dangerous, such as poison ivy and coral snake venom. You may end up using natural yet toxic substances for various reasons as you practice environmentally friendly lawn care.

The primary difference between natural and artificial substances is that though the toxic qualities of some natural substances can be harmful in the short term, they are quite beneficial to the lawn and surrounding environment in the long term. The poisonous nature of artificial substances is often harmful in the short and long term and represents one of the main reasons many homeowners avoid using these chemicals on their plants.

A lawn is an area of land that has grass growing on it and that a person mows on a regular basis. The words turf and green often mean the same thing. A field, on the other hand, is an area containing plants that is not mowed on a regular basis. This book will focus on lawns that commonly surround single-family homes for recreational use or for aesthetic appeal.

Organic lawn care, then, is the practice of creating and maintaining the health and well-being of a lawn using natural or organic — as opposed to artificial or synthetic — substances and methods that promote the long-term health of the lawn’s soil and grass and the surrounding environment.

Brief History of Organic Lawn Care

Organic lawn care began as early as 4,000 B.C. when domesticated animals, such as sheep, horses, and cattle, grazed near people’s farms and homes and kept the grass from growing too tall. These animals were not used specifically to create lawns as people know them today; instead, the land provided a source of food for livestock. People also used simple cutting tools, such as scythes and sickles, to maintain low-cut areas of grass around their homes.

Wealthy aristocrats in Europe as early as the 17th century surrounded their palatial homes with beautiful lawns and gardens. They did not have access to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but they could afford to employ the massive workforce needed to maintain these showpieces of horticultural magnificence. It was not until 1830 when Edwin Budding invented the first lawn mower in England that lawn care was accomplished with machines.

The American lawn of today's homeowner came into existence as a result of the growth of the post-World War II suburb. The introduction of the garden hose, the rotary lawn mower, and weed-free grass seeds made lawn maintenance an easy proposition. By the 1940s, companies began introducing chemical fertilizers as a means of artificially stimulating grass growth, and companies created pesticides to eliminate weeds and bugs.

A growing movement promoting organic gardening began in 1942 with the publication of J. I. Rodale’s magazine, Organic Farming. The articles educated the masses about the dangers of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and the benefits of gardening in cooperation with Mother Nature. It was not long before these ideas spread into the arena of lawn care, and consumers began demanding safe products for use on their lawns as early as the 1980s.

Organic lawn care is not a new idea; it is a return to the natural way of creating a beautiful lawn that maintains a soil’s vitality and integrity and keeps the environment safe. People's ancestors practiced this form of lawn care out of necessity because they did not have access to the chemicals and machinery available on the market today. Consumers disdained the use of these natural methods in their mad rush to create overnight lawns resembling golf courses, but these quick-fix methods had detrimental consequences the planet still faces today.

Problems with Traditional Lawn Care

Traditional lawn care creates a host of problems many homeowners either have not been aware of or perhaps have ignored because of the limited amount of time they have to devote to lawn maintenance. Traditional methods:

• Result in weaker grass and unhealthy soil

• Are toxic to family and pets

• Are toxic to the environment

• Are often more expensive to implement

Weak grass and unhealthy soil

When you use an artificial fertilizer on a lawn, it unnaturally boosts the levels of nitrogen and other nutrients grass needs to grow. The typical way plants and grass get the nutrients they need is from the soil through their root systems. Synthetic fertilizers do not add nutrients to the soil. Instead they are immediately sucked into the plant. Although the blades of grass do grow faster and are more plentiful, artificially fertilizing also creates four problems:

• Grass blades are weaker.

• The root system does not grow deeply enough.

• The grass is far more susceptible to disease.

• The soil becomes overly acidic or salty because it is too quickly depleted of nutrients.

The primary culprit is the nitrogen the fertilizer offers. Excess nitrogen consumption is a trait built into grass as a survival mechanism. These fertilizers are so successful because the grass already has a natural tendency to overuse nitrogen, even if it does not need it.

However, giving the grass access to extra nitrogen leads to nitrogen addiction. Because of the resulting rapid growth, many homeowners mow their lawns even lower, leaving the grass with blades too short to gain sufficient energy from the sun. Grass that consumes too much nitrogen is not more colorful because it is healthier; instead, it is producing more chlorophyll — the green stuff that enables plants to draw energy from sunlight — to compensate for the fact that it does not get enough sun.

A healthy balance in any system requires maintenance, and grass is no exception. For example, when there is too much nitrogen in the soil, grass needs more water to compensate. The excess water causes other imbalances, though. The grass’s roots, which serve to anchor a plant in the soil and ensure its survival during drought, do not extend deeply enough into the soil and do not grow with the same vigor. Deep root growth occurs when the roots have to dig down into the soil to find water. Even with heavy watering to saturate the lower levels of soil, the roots will not grow deeply enough because water is available closer to the surface. This vicious cycle continues as one imbalance perpetuates another and another.

Instead of using fertilizer to increase nitrogen levels to stimulate healthy plant growth, a better solution would be to test the soil to determine which nutrients are in short supply and add those instead of overloading the plant with nitrogen, a popular fix in traditional lawn care. See Chapter 2 for information on soil testing.

Although fertilizers produce a faster-growing and greener grass, they also leech nutrients from the soil, expose it to harmful salts and acids, and create a weaker grass that is more susceptible to disease.

Toxic to family and pets

As you will see in the next chapter, healthy soil teems with microorganisms and insects that are essential to the production of grass that has strong blades and a vigorous root system. However, chemical pesticides kill the microorganisms needed to convert the nutrients found in fertilizers into the energy grass needs to grow. These toxic substances also kill the beneficial insects that play a role in pollination and consume the insects that can damage your lawn.

Another area of concern regarding the use of traditional lawn care products and methods is that some are downright dangerous to the health of humans and animals. They can cause a host of health problems, including eye and skin irritation, asthma and allergies, as well as an increased risk of diseases such as leukemia and other cancers. In fact, the active ingredient in most insecticides was originally developed for use in biological warfare.

Present in a large number of insecticides and herbicides is a group of chemical compounds known as organophosphates. Nazi and British nerve gas weapons used organophosphates. The active ingredient found in the deadly nerve gas is known as sarin.

The popularity of organophosphate insecticides grew after DDT, a pesticide that was the main competitor of organophosphate pesticides, was banned in the early 1970s. Organophosphate insecticides, which have not yet been banned, are now in widespread use today and are one of the leading causes of chemical poisoning. If you use on or more of the many insecticides and herbicides on the market today, your children, family members, and pets are being exposed to the equivalent of a small biological attack in your backyard.

Toxic to the environment

Not only are traditional lawn care methods dangerous to use around humans and animals, they also cause irreparable damage to the environment. Pesticide runoff from lawns often end up in nearby lakes, rivers, and streams, killing plant and fish species. Trees sprayed with pesticides harm birds and other wildlife that inhabit them. Prolonged use of pesticides results in pesticide buildup in the soil, which contaminates other species that were not the intended target of the pesticide. Over time, these pesticides move up the food chain as larger animals consume the smaller,

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  • (5/5)
    As spring begins to show signs that it’s right around the corner, stores ready themselves for the influx of customers looking to buy their lawn care essentials. But what do you do if the prospect of spreading poisons and dangerous chemicals on the same ground your barefoot children and pets run around on doesn’t exactly appeal to you? Then it’s time to start thinking about lawn care in terms of organic standards. And author Sandy Baker has exactly what you need to get started in her book, “The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply”“The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care” is a comprehensive book, details a myriad of steps, organic options, and common problems inherent with transitioning a lawn from ‘traditional’ to ‘eco-friendly’. Baker begins with the various reasons why people may want to switch and then gets into the actual concept of what organic lawn care entails. Later, she explains how to get your soil tested so you know what nutrient deficiencies you are up against and how to overcome them. She gives helpful hints for getting rid of weeds, pesky insects, fungus, and other unwelcomed infestations. There is even a section on how to mow your lawn the correct way.Chock full of ideas and possibilities, the book is a map for the would-be beginner and a fantastic reference book for the experienced organic landscaper. Baker is thorough in her explanations, ensuring that her methods are understandable for any reader regardless of skill level. Well-organized, the book flowed from one section to another with ease. I only noticed one small issue with the editing: page 230 discusses weeds and some various ways to stop them. Baker notes, “Instead of digging the weeds up individually, use the vinegar and citrus oil method for that small area.” However, this ‘vinegar and citrus oil method’ had not been discussed prior nor is it addressed after this reference is made. It wasn’t until I got to the end of the book that I found an appendix. Appendix D (page 273) explains this method and details the recipe. Had I not browsed the appendices, I would not have found this recipe and the ‘vinegar and citrus oil method’ I’d read about on page 230 would have remained an irritating, unanswered question. This issue could be easily fixed with the addition of a short notation, like “(see Appendix D, page 273)” immediately following the first mention of this new method. “The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care” is a must-read for anyone looking to leave behind the traditional, unnatural way of caring for their yard. Sandy Baker’s safer, eco-friendly steps allow for a healthier – and eventually even easier – way to maintain everything underfoot! Reviewed by Vicki Landes, author of “Europe for the Senses – A Photographic Journal”