How to Cultivate a Lush Lawn the Organic WayColin Campbell-Preston
When your lawn looks more akin to a patchwork quilt than a picture-perfect bowling green, it can be difficult to stick to your organic commitments. Nothing makes you want to reach for the chemical fertilisers and pesticides more than a patchy, dandelion strewn, or insect-ravaged lawn. Cultivating a lush lawn organically doesn’t have to be difficult though, with just a few changes you can keep your garden looking fabulous without having to worry about its impact on the environment. This guide gives you a few easy changes you can make in your garden to cultivate a lush lawn the organic way.
Switch to Organic Fertiliser
Switching to organic fertiliser is a really easy and effective way to make your lawn care a bit more organic. Organic fertilisers can be made from natural plant, animal, and mineral sources, which are then applied to the lawn. The soil microorganisms then break the nutrients down into a form the plants can absorb, meaning that organic fertilisers release the nutrients more slowly than synthetic ones. Whilst it is still possible to overfeed with natural fertiliser, it is much less likely, making your lawn care that little bit easier. An application in early autumn and mid-spring will usually be sufficient to keep your lawn thriving.
Raise Your Mower Height
This is a really quick and simple way to cut down the amount of weedkiller you need to use on your lawn and help your grass thrive. Raise your mower height to around 3 inches and cut long, as the longer grass will shade out more weeds than shorter grass would. It also helps to protect the soil from evaporation in the warmer months. Longer grass also grows more slowly, meaning your lawn care will be less labour intensive in the long term.
Ditch the Rake
Instead of getting your rake out and neatly tidying up all the grass clippings after you’ve mowed the lawn, invest in a mulching blade and leave the clippings on your lawn. As they decompose they’ll add nutritious organic matter to the soil, saving you time and money on fertilising. They also help slow water evaporation in the hot summer months, promoting water conservation. This works best with short grass clipping, as they slot down between the grass rather than sitting on top like hay, so it’s best to mow your lawn more frequently if you want to do this.
Sharpen Your Mower Blades
Keeping your mower blades razor sharp will make a huge difference to the quality of your lawn without any need for chemicals. Dull blades damage the grass, leaving it bruised, torn and unhealthy overall. Damaged spots on the grass allow fungi, viruses, and disease to enter the plant, leading to a lawn that looks miserable and needs a great deal of care. Sharp blades leave minimal cuts open to bacteria, helping to keep your grass looking lush and healthy.
If you live in an area like London that has a clayish soil type, then it is probably worth investing in an aerator. This removes little plugs of soil, reducing soil compaction and allowing water to sink in more easily. It also opens the soil to fertiliser, amendments and seeds, so it’s a great way to prepare your lawn for all those important spring jobs.
You might think it doesn’t matter when you water your grass, but both the time of day and the frequency of watering can have a big impact. Plants can’t make efficient use of water in the heat of the day because their pores close to minimise how much water they lose through their leaves, so it is best to water your lawn on a morning before things heat up. If you like to water your lawn every day, it might be time to consider cutting down a bit. Infrequent but deep irrigation is a better way of ensuring a luscious lawn, as it forces the plants to make deeper, more resilient roots as they search for water.
Compost is the paracetamol of the gardener’s first aid kit: if you’re not sure what the problem is, add compost. Mixing a good, organic compost into your soil will always improve it, plus it’s a great way to make use of your potato peelings. Compost helps to balance pH, making acid soils more alkaline and alkaline soils more acidic. It also improves soil retention in sandy soils, whilst boosting drainage in clay soils, it reduces compaction, adds nutrients, and even keeps thatch under control. As we said, it’s something of a cure-all, so adding compost to your soil is essential if you want your lawn to thrive organically.
If you’ve tried everything and your garden still looks thin and patchy, have a go at overseeding. Basically, you sow seeds over the top of an existing lawn, either to fill in bare patches or to gradually change the grass type. Many lawns aren’t created with the soil type and weather of the area in mind, making caring for your lawn a lot more difficult because it isn’t made of the right type of grass. Overseeding lets you add a better-suited grass to your lawn without having to dig the whole thing up and start again.
Pop into one of our garden centres by Alexandra Palace, Wandsworth or Berkhamsted and our helpful Plant People will be more than happy to help your organic growing efforts. Alternatively, head over to our homepage for further inspiration.