Spring is the time for getting to work on your lawn and garden. New life is buzzing and nature is waking up from its winter sleep.
Many people are choosing green and organic lawn care options versus traditional methods that use harmful chemicals (i.e. pesticides). Primary motivations are health and environmental concerns.
Your lawn is a living thing and proper understanding will help you take better care of it.
This article will equip you with the information to get going.
Prefer a quick video overview on the basics of green lawn care? Check out the 3-minute video at the bottom of the page.
Benefits Of Green Lawn Care
First, let’s talk about why green lawn care is such a good idea. There are benefits in addition to health and eco-friendliness:
- Organic lawns are more vibrant and vigorous, adding natural beauty to your home
- They can cost less to maintain (pesticides and chemical fertilizers are expensive)
- They stay healthier longer
- They are more resistant to weeds, disease and drought
- Green lawns can save on water costs
- Green lawns are safer for wildlife, including birds
- And they are safer for your pets
However, be mindful that even organic lawn care products can be harmful if ingested by children and animals. Always read the labels and follow precautions.
Planning Will Improve Results
Planning ahead will make you more productive and ensures a higher quality result. You will also feel more confident and enjoy the process more.
Take time to plan your lawn care process. Take a sheet of paper or open a document on your computer and create a to-do list that’s right for your particular lawn. The rest of this article will help you do just that.
Note that some of the tips in this article may not apply to your situation. That’s ok.
Mowing Is Not Enough
Some people think that mowing the grass is all it takes to ensure a good looking lawn. That’s not true.
There’s more to lawn care than lawn mowing.
Take Your Time
This checklist is a good start. However, to deepen your knowledge about green lawn care, consider the two books at the end.
Lawn care is a complex and involved process. It requires dedication, study and time to really get right.
Check for growth of plants you seeded before the winter. If it’s still cold and frost occurs regularly, take sensitive plants inside for protection. Also, check for disease and bug infestations. For organic pest removal options that are not harmful to your health and the environment, see this quick video:
Bed Preparation and Mulching
Prepare the beds around your lawn by weeding and adding mulch. Mulch is biodegradable material that is spread around a plant to enrich and protect the soil. Studies show that mulch can affect yields by as much as 30 percent. You will get better results if you match the mulch to the crop, soil type and weather conditions. Here are detailed instructions on how to choose the right mulch.
Prune spring-flowering shrubs to make sure they have a better chance of growing strong.
Pruning Wooden Ornaments
Prune and trim wooden ornaments that may have been damaged during the freeze of winter to improve the appearance of your lawn.
Clean up winter debris around your lawn so that the grass can breathe. If you have a lawn tractor or riding mower, a lawn sweeper is great for this.
Groom your tools, including clearing away any rust build-up. Do maintenance checks on lawn care machines. Check on your lawn mower and/or lawn tractor (oil, spark plugs and air filters).
If you use electric lawn care machines, you will need to spend less time on maintenance. Also tend to attachments such as dethatchers and lawn sweepers.
Color code your tools to better organize and keep track of them (using spray paint or colored tape).
Order tools and plants if there is anything that you will need in the upcoming months. Don’t leave shopping to the last minute. Upgrade your equipment and tools if needed. Before buying anything new, try to fix the ones you have to minimize waste.
Maintain Bird Feeders
Clean out and restock bird feeders.
Repair bowed sides of raised beds to make sure that they will hold up throughout the coming year.
Inspect your fence and fix any damage that may have occurred during the winter.
If your lawn is acidic, spring is the time for applying lime. Here’s a video on how to do it:
Weed young spring weeds. Make sure to weed regularly. It’s best to set aside some time every day or every other day to weeding. Regular lawn mowing will also help clear weeds. Here are six tips on more effective weed control.
If you have planted flowers, shrubs or vegetables, protect seedlings from hard frost by bringing them indoors into warmer temperatures.
Prune fruit trees, remove dead or damaged branches. Pruning trees can be time-consuming and it’s important to do it right to prevent damage. You can effectively prune trees in three steps: 1) clean damaged, dead and diseased parts of the tree 2) thin out branches and 3) cut last year’s growth.
If you are planting a vegetable garden, this is the time to do it. For planting and harvesting directions of various vegetables, take a look at Veggie Harvest.
Take Care Of Perennials
Divide perennials. Clear and mulch perennial beds. In order to take good care of your perennials, you need to learn about soil, planting options, maintenance and how to deal with pests and diseases. Cornell University has put together a guide about how to grow perennials that deals with all these topics.
Rejuvenate Lawn Soil
If required, rejuvenate your lawn soil. This is a fairly involved process that requires several steps. Depending on the size and condition of your lawn, it may also require lawn machines such as dethatchers as shown in this video. You should take time to research soil rejuvenation before going ahead with it. Check out this book all about soil-building.
Feed your roses with soil nutrients around the bushes. Rose gardening can be an immense pleasure. The act of tending to something that will grow into great beauty is deeply satisfying to many. These are sensitive plants and you need to take care of several aspects when growing roses: site, soil, water, fertilizer, pruning, winter protection, pests and diseases.
Plant trees and shrubs that attract birds. Here is a list of various plants and the different types of birds they attract.
This delicious salad plant can be grown practically anywhere and will grow best in spring and fall. For instructions on how to plant and harvest lettuce, check out this grower’s guide.
Begin regular mowing, which helps maintain lawn health and stimulates growth by exposing more of the grass to the sun. Keep the grass at max 4 inches. You should mow your lawn at least once a week.
Do a soil test to check the pH and general health of your soil. You can find soil testing services online.
Grow Grass Seed
Seeding grass on your lawn will make it thicker. It’s important to ensure quality seed, proper temperatures, and regular watering. Here’s more information about growing grass seed.
Start a compost pile. There is a lot to learn when it comes to composting. Here is a beginner’s composting guide to get you started.
Add More Mulch
Continue to add mulch around plants to protect the surrounding soil from hard rain and the scorching sun. Shredded bark is a good option. It also helps suppress weeds and gradually turns into nutrient-rich compost. Mulch flower beds to prevent weeds and trap moisture.
With bulb plants, you need to take care to dig the right depth in the soil depending on the bulb you are planting. Also, pay attention to the geographic area you are in and the weather patterns that determine the month you should plant.
Prune spring-flowering shrubs. There are several different types of pruning: maintenance and rejuvenation pruning. Also, you need to pay attention to the angle of the cut in order to successfully prune your shrubs.
Plant Summer Vegetables
Start summer vegetable seeds (i.e. cucumbers, squash, and zucchini). Use row covers to protect the seeds from birds that would eat them. You can remove the covers after the vegetables emerge.
Plant perennials. Because these are sensitive plants, it’s best to plant them on overcast days to prevent heat shock.
Plant Summer Annuals
Sow summer annuals like zinnias, sunflowers, cleome and four o’clocks. Follow instructions on the seed packages on how to do it right.
Start/continue your weeding routine to regularly deal with weeds and prevent them from flourishing.
Apply organic lawn fertilizer to help the soil rejuvenate after the dead of winter, while protecting your family’s health and contributing to a healthier environment by avoiding toxic pesticides.
Move Houseplants Outside
Take houseplants outside to allow them enjoyment of the warmer weather and increased sun light.
Clear fire ant mounds. They can spread fast across the lawn if not taken care of. Try diatomacious earth to clear them in a non-toxic way.
Basics Of Green Lawn Care
If you want just the basics of green lawn care without the extensive steps listed above, begin with this step-by-step 3 minute video:
Green Lawn Care Books
The Organic Lawn Care Manual: A Natural, Low-Maintenance System for a Beautiful, Safe Lawn by Paul Tukey
“Create a gorgeous lawn that is free of harsh chemicals. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to grow and maintain a thriving lawn using organic gardening methods.”
Trowel and Error: Over 700 Organic Remedies, Shortcuts, and Tips for the Gardener by Sharon Lovejoy
“Trowel and Error is a direct line to the kind of practical wisdom that comes only after a lifetime of experience. The book is indexed by problem, plant, pest, and solution, and includes a list of tools and common household items – borax, cornmeal, vinegar – that completes the gardener’s arsenal.”