Beth Dreiling / Styling Cari South
Mowing your lawn once a week is a great way to get aerobic exercise. Try a push mower for an even better workout.A natural lawn-care approach encourages beneficial insects that will help everything in your yard look and grow better.
Nothing compares to sprawling out on freshly cut grass. Keeping the lawn lush and green, however, can take a toll on your weekends or your wallet.
Phil Catron, of NaturaLawn of America, thinks there's a better alternative. "Lawns are in a constant state of change," he says. "The soil changes, the trees get taller, and the shade gets deeper. Take notice of these changes, and work to keep the soil healthy."
The Natural Keys
This sentiment is surprisingly revolutionary. "I always tell new customers that getting a healthy lawn is just like building a house," says Phil. "If you take your time to build a solid foundation, you'll get a great end product that stands the test of time."
To build a solid foundation for a lawn, Phil uses a combination of natural organic-based fertilizers and aeration equipment. By adding compost and other organic materials to the soil, it is less likely to become susceptible to weeds, disease, and insects. Next he recommends running a core-aerator over the lawn and overseeding every two years to open up the soil and allow the organic matter to penetrate to a deeper level.
A Healthy Compromise
Use as few pesticides as possible to achieve an attractive landscape. While it's important to accept that natural lawn care can't provide instant results, the long-term results are always better. A healthy lawn won't require as much care, which equals less time and money.
Resources for Natural-Based Lawn Care
Four Easy Steps to a Healthy Natural Lawn
1. Water correctly―Deep, infrequent waterings encourage deep roots that are more tolerant of drought and disease.
2. Mow smart―Don’t mow short, and sharpen mower blades to prevent damaging the grass.
3. Build up your soil―Use natural fertilizers in spring and fall, reseed bald patches, and top-dress annually with compost.
4. Deal with weeds sensibly―Hand weed when possible to prevent weeds from going to seed. To eradicate them, try a vinegar-based product or corn gluten instead of synthetic chemicals.
Natural Fertilizer Options
These are available at most home and garden stores.
"Kid-Friendly Lawns" is from the April 2006 issue of Southern Living.