5 Eco Lawn Care & Maintenance Tips for Greener Gardens
We may be in the heart of winter right now but one thing we can all hang onto is spring’s just around the corner. Spring will come quick and as that snow melts, so will your lawn be revealed once again. This year, many Canadian homeowners will want to find effective lawn care strategies that work for them.
And, if you’re anything like us, you may be looking forward to a whole new season of lawn care. Regardless of whether lawn care’s a passion or something you’re just becoming interested in, for the environmentally conscientious Canadian, here are five strategies you can use to make your lawn more eco-friendly this year.
1. Reducing yard waste.
Approximately 20 percent of all residential waste in Canada comes from our yards. This doesn’t have to be the case though. Grass clippings break down and become nutrients, sort of like a natural fertilizer. Using your own grass clippings, you’ll save money on fertilizer and won’t have to pay any disposal fees on getting rid of your yard waste. That said, if you can’t re-use your own yard waste, there are mulching centers to ensure your yard waste is recycled and not landfill-bound.
2. Environmentally-friendly conservation practices.
Lawn care is all about maintenance and so how to maintain should have conservation in mind. Sustainable turf care methods, high motor blade placement, and allowing the grass to grow a little longer are always strong recommendations. Regarding that last point, letting the grass grow up to 3 inches high strengthens their roots and can help combat weeds. In general, grass grows faster when it’s cut shorter so if you let it grow long and then, give it a close cut, that’s all it takes. For Canadians using their own lawn mower, keeping the blades sharp and the mower tuned ensures roots aren’t damaged when cutting.
3. Minimal use of fertilizer to keep a lawn healthy.
Contrary to popular opinion, regular fertilizer application is not needed to keep a lawn looking healthy. Have your soil tested. You may find you already have sufficient levels of nitrate, phosphorus, and potassium. If you do see this, you certainly don’t need more nutrients on top of that. In general, soil tests are recommended once every three or four years and are an inexpensive way to find out how to best fertilize your lawn.
If it’s indicated you need fertilizer, absolutely do it. However, do so in the fall, instead of the spring. Applying fertilizer in the fall promotes root growth and reduces the risks of fertilizer contaminating water which sometimes occurs during the spring rains.
4. Installing rain barrels to collect stormwater runoff.
Roofs, driveways, and other impervious surfaces increases the amount of water provided to your lawn. By installing rain barrels, you can collect storm water and use it during drier periods of the summer to water planting beds. Some Canadians prefer a rain garden to a rain barrel. Using a rain garden, you can plant water-tolerant organisms and do groundwater infiltration which comes with advantages. Another environmentally-friendly idea, a rain garden is usually created in a depression.
5. Do not use tar-based asphalt sealant.
Asphalt sealant contains high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are otherwise known as PAHs. These are highly toxic to lawns and also carry with them carcinogenic compounds. In more recent years, studies have been published suggesting water run-off of recently sealed surfaces come with high levels of PAHs. Naturally, that bleeds into the soil and creates an environmental problem you may not be aware of. If you have an asphalt driveway, we recommend coating less frequently and/or using alternatives.