Have a question about whether natural lawn care could work for you? Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about caring for your lawn using the techniques recommended by Lawn to Lake Midwest. If you have a suggestion for a question that should be included here, please Contact Us to let us know.
Natural Lawn Care focuses on the lawn as part of the broader ecosystem.
- Building healthy soil is the foundation. Soil testing, fall fertilization, core aeration, and topdressing can help achieve healthy soil.
- The approach then relies on practices that foster deep roots and dense, healthy turf. Some examples include mowing high, returning grass clippings, practicing optimum watering, and overseeding.
- Healthy ecosystems rely on diversity and plants that are well suited for the growing conditions. So, choosing the right turfgrass blend or mixture is also an important component of Natural Lawn Care.
- Finally, once a heathy lawn ecosystem is established it will naturally resist weeds, pests, and disease. When intervention is needed the problem is correctly identified and the appropriate cultural and biological control methods are taken before resorting to spot-treating with the least-toxic, recommended product.
Fine Fescues are a good low maintenance option. Explore the following resources to determine if they could work for your site conditions:
Braun, R. C., Patton, A. J., Watkins, E., Koch, P. L., Anderson, N. P., Bonos, S. A., & Brilman, L. A. (2020). Fine fescues: A review of the species, their improvement, production, establishment, and management. Crop Science, 60(3), 1142–1187.
- Mow high. Maintaining a grass height of 3-5 inches for cool-season grasses can shade the soil making it hard for weed seeds to germinate.
- Set your lawn expectations. If you can tolerate a few weeds, you may not need to do anything but follow The Basics of Natural Lawn Care to maintain a healthy lawn.
- Finally, properly identify the weed and determine its lifecycle, growth habits, and habitat requirements. This knowledge can help you determine the most effective control method. Review Manage Pests Responsibly for more detailed information about developing a weed management plan that uses less chemicals.
Returning your grass clippings can provide your lawn with up to 25% of its nutrient needs. Despite the common misconception, leaving grass clippings on your lawn does not contribute to thatch. If additional nutrients are required based on soil test results, your turfgrass species, or how much wear your lawn receives, choose slow-release fertilizers from plant or animal sources. Always sweep clippings and excess fertilizer off hard surfaces and back onto your lawn.
Yes. Soil fertility is key to maintaining a healthy lawn. Is your lawn thinning, weedy, or does it have bare patches? A soil test can help you identify any nutrient deficiencies that may be contributing to a decline in your lawn’s performance. It will also provide information about other important soil characteristics like pH and your soil’s ability to hold onto water and nutrients.
Read more about soil as it relates to turfgrass health in this publication.
Save money and maximize your lawn care efforts by testing your soil every three to five years, and more often if working to correct an issue. Always test prior to a new planting or renovation and test trouble spots separately. When sampling large turfgrass areas, you will likely need to collect soil at a depth of 3-6 inches from 10-15 random sites. Remove any vegetation or large debris, break up clumps, and dry at room temperature. You will send about a cupful of your well-mixed sample to a lab for analysis. Check out Soil Testing for more details, resources, and testing labs.
If some of your lawn care needs are met by professionals, you can still ensure that methods are used that will adhere to the Lawn to Lake principles. Visit the page below to learn what questions to ask when evaluating landscapers and lawn care professionals to ensure you are receiving services that benefit your lawn and protect water quality.