The pleasures of an eco lawn are easy to imagine!
Your green grass freshly mowed and weed free. An inviting haven to people and wildlife as it has been grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
The envy of your neighbourhood!
One of the biggest secrets to a great lawn is to set your lawn mower blade high!
A blade set at 3 to 4 inches high will keep the grass moist and healthy and also help the grass to out compete weeds. Taller grass prevents small weed seedlings from getting enough sunlight to thrive.
Surprisingly, if you cut your grass just a little bit longer it will grow more slowly than if you cut it short. Short grass is left with very little of its ability to collect energy (and food) from the sun as it has so little leaf surface area left. It has to grow as fast as it can to replenish its leaf size again. Leave your grass long and the grass leaf grows more slowly - and you need to mow less often!
Encourage your grass to develop long roots by watering your lawn only when it really needs it.
When you do water, water so that the grass is receiving at least 1/2 inch of water. This will cause the root to grow deep in search of water, rather than shallow.
To grow well your eco lawn needs to have between 5 inches to 20 inches of topsoil.
This much soil will allow the grass roots to obtain nutrition from the soil and to grow deep roots. You will not need to water as often as this much top soil will retain water for longer as well!
If you have very little topsoil you may want to consider having truckloads of topsoil brought in to your yard. You can spread it evenly over the existing grass, reseed it and start over. (you may want to consider using a fescue type grass as well since you are re-seeding)
You are fighting a losing battle if you have insufficient topsoil!
Apply an organic fertilizer to your lawn in the spring and then again in the fall.
There are many sources of organic fertilizer available from local garden centers to farmers markets.
Using aged steer manure, composted horse manure, compost from your own garden and household leftovers or prepackaged organic fertilizer will all work well.
The ideal pH for grass growth is between 6.0 to 7.0.
Anything else is less ideal for grass and more ideal for weeds!
Have your soil professionally tested as some cheap retail testers are not that accurate.
If your soil is full of dandelions it is probably too alkaline (pH is too high). To change this you will need to treat your soil with gardners sulphur.
If your soil tests below pH of 6.0 the addition of lime will increase the pH.
Gas lawn mowers are responsible for 5% of damaging greenhouse gases in our atmosphere!
So what mowing options do you have to achieve an eco friendly lawn?
These lawn mowers are the ones that you push around yourself. They do not have an engine and cut the grass with several horizontal blades mounted between the wheels of the mower.
You may be concerned that these mowers would be very hard to push and difficult to use. This can be true if you have a large area of lawn to mow and tall grass to cut. However if you have a small lawn many push mowers are light, effective, and easy to handle.
They also cut your lawn with barely a whisper of noise.
You do have to maintain the blades in sharp running order however. And it may take you a longer time to mow your lawn than with a power mower.
Experts suggest push mowers for lawns that are no bigger than 6,500 square feet in size.
Solar Powered Mowers:
You can purchase a solar powered lawn mower for less than $700 (plus shipping) from Free Power Systems.
These cool machines mow your eco lawn by collecting power from the sun using solar panels attached to the mower itself.
The panels hold energy to power about 2 hours of mowing.
You will save 100% of your gas costs which is a nice way to off-set the cost of the mower.
It takes about three days to fully charge the solar panel. The panel itself is fully detachable so that you can store it in a sunny place and always be ready to mow!
This mower will also run on electricity if needed.
An eco lawn is enhanced by compost.
Compost your grass clippings and use them later as mulch to revitalize your lawn and prevent erosion.
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