Going Greener: Organic Lawn Management
For many homeowners, weighing the benefits of a beautiful, lush lawn against the prospect of increasing their carbon footprint is a difficult decision to make. Fortunately, there are organic lawn management systems which do allow homeowners to increase their curb appeal with landscaping designs which also have a low impact on the overall environment. An eye-catching lawn and an eco-friendly property are not mutually exclusive, but will require homeowners to alter their lawn care routines in a manner which supports a greener lifestyle.
What is Organic Lawn Management?
"Organic" is a popular buzzword for everything from landscaping to grocery shopping, but there are many consumers and homeowners who aren't entirely sure what the word actually means. In regards to landscaping, organic lawn management is a comprehensive system of lawn care and maintenance which eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers or pesticides. These are the same basic tenets used in organic gardening for food, applied to the aesthetic value of landscaping and ornamental gardening.
There are a variety of techniques which support sustainable, organic landscaping methods, so the average homeowner will have several options for how they implement a chemical-free lawn care routine. These systems may call for the inclusion of beneficial insects and predators which naturally control the population of damaging pests, choosing plants which are native to the homeowner's region to limit the need for irrigation and fertilizing with natural compost in lieu of chemical fertilizing compounds. Strong organic lawn management plans will ideally combine a variety of water-saving and sustainable techniques which provide comprehensive protection and an ideal growing environment without the need for outside help through the introduction of chemical products.
Organic Lawn Management and Biodiversity
One aspect of organic lawn management which can greatly affect the health and overall appearance of grass is biodiversity, or the inclusion of more than one species of grass. It's not uncommon for homeowners to assume there's only one type of grass, but the truth is that there are many species of grass and ground cover. Combining a variety of species native to the area in which they will be grown not only helps to support a thriving ecosystem without the need for excessive watering and chemical fertilization, but can also improve the overall look of a lawn space. Each species of grass naturally grows to different heights, has different watering requirements and different aesthetic characteristics. By seeding a lawn with several varieties which are known to thrive in their region, homeowners can create a stronger, more healthy looking lawn.
For homeowners who hope to lessen their carbon footprint by reducing carbon emissions, choosing grass species which are naturally low-growing can also dramatically reduce or even eliminate the need for mowing. This naturally translates to a lower dependence on fossil fuels, less emissions and lowered energy use. When properly chosen with attention to the climate needs and conditions of the growing area, grass combinations can look beautiful and manicured without the need for regular mowing, heavy watering and pesticide use.
Synthetic lawn management systems and commercial fertilizers with high levels of nitrogen can contribute to excessive formation of thatch, which is the combination of root tissue and dried, dead grass which can form after mowing. This thatch, unlike typical grass clippings, is slow to decompose and can block healthy grass from receiving adequate amounts of moisture and sunlight. Because nitrogen slows the decomposition of roots while encouraging high amounts of top growth, eliminating the need for these chemical fertilizers can significantly reduce the amount of thatch which must be removed to encourage healthy grass growth. A commitment to biodiversity is the first step to limiting the need for fertilizers, and as such, can have far-reaching implications in terms of overall grass health and appearance.
Beneficial Organisms and Pesticides
For many homeowners, the elimination of all insects is a primary goal. While pesticides can and do eliminate pest insects which cause damage to grass and landscaping, they also kill beneficial organisms which are a crucial part of any thriving ecosystem. By destroying beneficial organisms which often control the population of damaging species, homeowners often create a cycle which requires more pesticide to control the insects which harm their lawns, as they're able to re-establish themselves before the population of beneficial organisms can be restored.
Instead of relying upon pesticides which destroy the natural ecosystem of a lawn while potentially posing significant risk to children and pets, homeowners are advised to support colonization by beneficial organisms and refraining from chemical pesticide use.
Organic lawn management is not only a less damaging method of landscaping, to both the ecosystem of the individual lawn and the environment as a whole, but can often be a less expensive and time-consuming alternative. Before reaching for chemical compounds which create unnatural conditions, homeowners are urged to research the plants which are best suited to the growing conditions of their climate while supporting the growth of beneficial organism populations for healthier, stronger and more beautiful lawns.