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Earth Friendly Lawn Care Tips

Posted by Sharon Rosshirt on Monday, February 5th, 2018 at 8:00am.

The sun is shining, the flowers and trees are beginning to bud out, and those of us who love to garden are making plans to have our best gardening year ever.  If you are, like many people in central Texas, considering what to do to prepare your lawn, here are some suggestions.
 
 

First of all, consider forgoing the application of a combined “weed and feed” product. These products have the benefit of being one simple step, but many disadvantages.  Many lawn care experts will tell you that it is wasteful and unnecessary to treat your entire lawn for weeds that only show up in patches, which means you are wasting money.  You are also adding unnecessary amounts of herbicides into our water systems.  The fertilizer contained in these mixes is primarily nitrogen granules.  Nitrogen is important to grass and will green in up, but adding it separate from any organic matter causes rapid, weak growth with no benefit to the roots.  This leaves you with grass that is susceptible to diseases and requires the application of more water in dry weather.  That’s a bad combination of characteristics in our hot central Texas summers!

Another consideration is that some weed and feed products are fertilizers combined with pre-emergent herbicides, which means that they only work on weeds that are dormant, primarily seeds. If you’ve done a fair job of weed control so far, you probably don’t have that many seeds waiting to sprout, so that becomes wasted money and effort to no effect.  Other types of weed and feed have herbicides aimed at broadleaf type weeds that are already showing.  If you are going to use weed and feed, a severely neglected, weedy lawn that has existing weeds or seeds that will emerge into weeds is the only lawn that might actually need herbicides all over it.

Short of that, consider these environmentally friendly, effective alternatives:

Corn gluten is easily available locally and is for pre-emergent weed situations.  The corn gluten, when moistened, coats the seeds so they will not germinate.  It then gradually dissolves into something that actually builds your soil, by adding organic matter (like mulch or compost) that improves the crumble and water retaining abilities of your soil, and contains that much-needed nitrogen to green your grass.

Consider raking a layer of compost over your lawn, then watering it in or waiting for Mother Nature to do that for you.  This builds your soil from the top, protects the roots against heat, increases the moisture retention ability of your soil.  It’s all benefit, with no major downside.  Well, it is a little more work, but we could just add “good exercise” to the list of benefits of this method!

For handling the broadleaf weeds that are too late to be treated by pre-emergent methods like corn gluten, find a spot treatment product designed for the specific types of weeds you are encountering.  We love The Natural Gardener, a local, well-informed gardening resource who’s been serving central Texas for decades.  They carry all the products you need and have a helpful staff to guide and advise you.

Check them out at NaturalGardenerAustin.com.

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