Most home owners want a dense, healthy lawn. A healthy lawn coupled with trees and bushes can help prevent erosion, moderate temperatures, and act as a filter for rain water. Grass also filters the air and produces oxygen. Caring for your lawn in an environmentally friendly way can be a great benefit to your home and health.
A strong lawn starts with the right soil. The soil needs to have the right texture and phosphate (pH). A “loamy” soil is best. Soil texture can be improved by periodically adding organic matter such as vegetative compost, manure, or grass clippings. The use of fertilizers can add nutrients also. However, these fertilizers also contribute significantly to the water quality problems we see here in New Jersey. It is very important to follow the labels on fertilizers, 2 times as much is not 2 times as good.
Excess fertilizers just runoff with watering and rain which then end up entering the storm drains and water ways. You should test your soil to make sure you even need to fertilize and which type is needed. Contact your local Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Master Gardeners for ascendance.
Mowing your lawn is crucial to the health of the lawn. Most lawns should be cut between 2 and 4 inches which will promote healthier roots zones, control weeds, and control soil moisture. The lawn clippings should be left to decompose and fertilize the lawn, this will not contribute to the thatch layer in a healthy lawn.
Over-watering your lawn is the most common mistake of home owners. Once a lawn is established it will only need to be watered during very dry periods. The soil should be watered to about a depth of 6 inches (about 1 inch of water) this will encourage a strong root zone. Do not water till runoff starts, this will carry nutrients that your lawn needs away and down the storm drains which then enter our waterways.
Type Of Lawn
When planting your lawn and garden consider the area, climate, water requirements, nutrient requirements, growth rates, pest resistance, drought tolerance, shade tolerance, and traffic tolerance. There are a wide range of different grasses out there to pick from. Consult your local Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office or Master Gardeners.
Things You Can Do
- Divert rain spouts onto grass and flower beds instead of onto walkways and driveways.
- Do a soil test to see if you even need to apply fertilizer.
- Do not apply fertilizers if heavy rain is predicted.
- Do not over water your lawn, which is a very common practice.
- If you must use fertilizers and pesticides, make sure you follow the labels, including the storage and use of them.
- Look into alternatives to pesticides, Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
- Smaller the lawn the better.
- Sweep your walk ways. Do not hose them down to clean them.
- Try to plant native plants that use less water and need little or no fertilizers.
- Try to use natural non-chemical fertilizers such as compost and fish meal.
- Use a mulching mower that recycles grass clippings.