It’s that time of year again when we see our neighbors throwing tons of fertilizer on their “lawn” hoping for greener grass, which currently is just compacted dirt. I hate to be the one to tell them, but that fertilizer won’t do much good if they have unhealthy soil. Here are two steps that will give you a green and healthy lawn without all the fertilizer.
Aerate your lawn. Many of our lawns are compacted, which makes it difficult for oxygen, water, and nutrients to seep below the surface. By aerating your lawn you are creating spaces that allow the air, water, and nutrients to access the roots where they can do some good. Aerating also pulls some soil to the surface, which helps decompose thatch. You only have to do it once a year and your lawn will love you for it.
Incorporate compost. One of the best ways to improve the structure of your soil is to top-dress your lawn with 1/4” of fine compost at least once a year. So what’s so great about compost? In a few words…it is full of life! Compost improves drainage, reduces pest and disease problems, balances the pH levels of your soil, and attracts the good insects and worms. One of its greatest benefits is that it contains all of the important nutrients, as well as trace elements you do not find in commercial fertilizers. Compost also helps your soil retain moisture. You can either buy compost or use homemade compost from your own pile.
Most lawns in Virginia are cool-season grasses and the best time to apply compost and aerate is between September and November. If you have warm-season grasses the best time is early April to late August.
Do you already aerate and compost? Then you may be a River Hero Home! Visit www.jamesriverhero.org for details and to apply. You will receive a River Hero Home garden flag to hang proudly, so that when the neighbor who has been fertilizing his lawn tirelessly sees your beautiful green lawn, you can tell him your secret for a healthy lawn and a cleaner James River!
For more information:
Aerating Your Lawn. http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-002/430-002.html
Making Compost from Yard Waste. http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/category/lawns.html
River Hero Homes. www.jamesriverhero.org