Having a lush, green lawn used to require a lot of time and energy — watering, fertilizing, not to mention fending off pests and weeds. However, with high-tech grass seed, water-conserving irrigation systems and eco-safe fertilizers and pest control, it’s never been easier to tend to your turf with a clear conscience that you’re doing right by the environment.
- Scotts Water Smart grass seed
- rain gauge
- slow release and/or organic fertilizers
- soil tester
- Smart Seed grass seed
- weed killer
Step 1: Water Smart and Save
Use Water Smart technology
Deep, infrequent watering encourages grass plants to develop deep root systems that are less susceptible to drying out. If you’re putting in a new lawn, use seeds developed with innovative water-smart technology like those from Scotts that have a special coating to keep the seeds moist for faster germination with less watering.
Set up a rain gauge
Irrigate only if nature doesn’t provide an inch or so of rain a week. Experiment with how long it takes your sprinkler system to apply 1 inch of water, then set a timer accordingly. Make sure you’re watering the lawn, not the sidewalk or street.
Water in the early morning or evening
Not only does less water evaporate in cooler temperatures but grass blades will also dry faster, minimizing problems with plant disease.
Step 2: Choose Earth-Friendly Fertilizers
Unsurprisingly, fertilizer runoff pollutes waterways but some simple techniques can minimize the problem. Use slow-release fertilizers that break down slowly in the soil and supplies plants with a steady supply of nutrients just when they need them. Other fertilizers — especially organic ones — can provide not only the big three nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), but also elements that may be deficient in your soil like zinc and copper.
Step 3: Fertilize At The Right Time
Make sure it’s growing
Only apply fertilizer to actively growing grass. Fertilizer spread on dormant grass (grass that has turned brown due to lower temperatures or drought), or just-planted areas, is much more likely to run off with the next rainfall.
Follow the application rate indicated on the fertilizer bag — more isn’t better in this case — and sweep up fertilizer spills to prevent rain from washing it into storm drains.
Promoting airflow and helping fertilizer to penetrate the soil, aerating is best done when soil is moist but not saturated. Test your soil to determine if you need to apply lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it. Most grasses prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6 and 7.
Step 4: Look For New Seed Solutions
Smart Seed technology
The new seed technology, in which grass seeds are coated with beneficial root organics, offers gardeners (and the ecology) a whole new range of benefits. For instance, Pennington’s Smart Seed options are protected against deadly fungus and are less attractive to birds. Most importantly, though, the seed produces a deeper, denser root system that requires up to 30 percent less water and maximizes fertilizer performance – two important attributes in an eco-smart lawn.
Choosing the right type of grass
You’ll further reduce hands-on care, saving you time, money and resources, if you choose the right grass for your region.
For northern regions, common grass seed mixes that thrive in cool areas include Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass and fescues. Bermuda, centipede and zoysiagrass can take the heat and produce lush lawns even in hot, humid climates so they perform much better in southern regions.
Step 5: Become Weed Wise
The best weed control is a lush lawn — few weeds can compete with healthy grass plants. So following proper watering, fertilizing and mowing techniques will go a long way in preventing weed problems.
For extensive invasions, there are two categories of weed control products:
These herbicides inhibit seed germination. Used on established lawns, they’ll prevent seeds of annual weeds, like crabgrass, from sprouting.
Choose this kind of herbicide for existing weeds. Applied to foliage, they’ll generally kill the weed in a day or two. Follow label instructions carefully to avoid wasting product and to protect nearby plants. Eco-friendly products are harsh on weeds but not on the planet.