Healthy Environment, Strong Communities, Accountable Government


Step 1 - Change Your Maintenance Practices

Day to day lawn care has a big impact on the health of your turf.

  • Mow high
  • Water infrequently and deeply
  • Seed with a tall fescue blend
  • Step 2 - Promote the Soil Life

    Healthy grass grows in healthy soil, rich in organic matter that supports beneficial microbes and earthworms.

  • Microbial inoculants
  • Compost and Liquid compost
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Step 3 - Soil Amendments

    These balance and condition your soil, and add trace elements which are essential for healthy plant growth.

  • Lime
  • Kelp extract
  • Rock dust minerals
  • Step 4 - Pest Control

    Don't panic and reach for chemical poisons, there are effective organic solutions for weed and pest outbreaks.

  • Corn gluten
  • Nematodes
  • Milky spore
  • Weeding and spot control

  • Putting the Program into Action

    Step 1 - Change Your Maintenance Practices

    Mow high - Set mower blades high 3"-3.5". Avoid cutting off more than 1/3 of the grass blade at one time. When grass is growing rapidly in the spring, this may mean occasionally mowing more than once a week. Leave clippings on the lawn.

    Water infrequently but deeply - About every 7 to 10 days if there has not been a good rain. More frequently only if weather is very hot and dry. Wet the whole root zone. Depending on your sprinkler, this could take 2 to 4 hours or more. Light watering encourages shallow root growth. Shallow roots dry out in dry, hot weather. Do not water at night, it encourages fungus. Do not water in the middle of the day, evaporation loss is greater. Do not over-water. Too much water can suffocate turf. Overly wet conditions encourage disease. Organic lawns have better soil structure and more organic material, they hold more water and can withstand dry weather better.

    Seed with a tall fescue blend - Thick turf is the best way to prevent weeds. Bare patches are an invitation to weeds. The best time for seeding is when the weather starts to cool down, late August through September. If you don't use a pre-emergent weed control, such as corn gluten, seed bare and thin patches in late April or May. If you use corn gluten, don't seed for at least six weeks. Using a blend of different grass strains can prevent a single pest or disease from wiping out your lawn.

    Dethatching - Organically maintained lawns do not have thatch problems. If you have a thick thatch layer, an organic dethatching product, liquid compost, or a light top-dressing of compost will add micro-organisms to break down thatch.

    Step 2 - Promote the Soil Life


      Anytime March April May June July August September/
    Microbial Inoculants Replace soil life that chemicals have depleted    Y Y Y Y Y Y  
    Compost & Liquid Compost Essential for 2 years of transition spread 1/4 inch thick on turf then rake in. Y              
    Organic fertilizer Provides major nutrients in a slow release form. It does not harm soil life.      Y         Y

    Step 3 - Soil Amendments


      Anytime March April May June July August September/
    Lime (test pH first) 1/3 of amount indicated by pH test, 3 times a season. Y              
    Kelp extract Use anytime your lawn needs a boost, particularly mid-summer. Y         Y Y  
    Rock dust minerals Once a year (you can also use greensand)  Y              
    Rock phosphate Helps healthy root growth               Y

    Step 4 - Pest Control


      Anytime March April May June July August September/
    Corn gluten (Weeds) Spread on trouble areas when forsythia first shows color.   Y Y         Y
    Weeding and spot control (Weeds) Pull weeds and fill with mixture of compost and grass seed. Y              
    Nematodes (Grubs, webworm, chinch bug) Not in direct sun, or hot weather. Only moist soil.     Y Y       Y
    Milky spore (Japanese beetle grubs) Grubs can be controlled for years with milky spore.    Y Y Y Y Y Y  
    Compost & Liquid Compost (Turf diseases) Spread lightly on affected areas. Do not over water.  Y              

    More tips

    Neighborhood Network
    7180 Republic Airport, East Farmingdale, NY 11735 Tel: (631) 963-5454
    Advocates for Long Island's Environment