10 Steps to an Organic Lawn & Garden
Being an organic gardener is not really that big a deal when all is said and done. What is harder is changing our old habits and taking the time to learn the steps to go organic. Here is my basic 10-step program to becoming an organic gardener.
Step #1 – Stop using chemicals and synthetics.
The health of your soil determines the health of your plants. Not only are chemicals and synthetics not safe, they kill the biology in your soil so it cannot feed your plants the nutrients they need to be healthy.
Step #2 – Use compost.
Compost is the fertilizer of choice for organic gardeners. It helps to stabilize PH, get the biology going in the soil that gets nutrients to plants and it increases the organic matter in your soil which helps retain moisture.
Step # 3 – Plant for diversity.
Diversity helps to keep your yard in balance so the good guys win over the bad guys.
Step # 4 – Plant natives.
These plants grew up in our backyard so they are supposed to adapt to our soil and climate better than plants that have not.
Step # 5 – Put the right plant in the right place.
Every plant thrives in certain conditions which is what you want to replicate in your yard. Check the type of soil, moisture and light conditions of plants before you put them into your gardens.
Step # 6 – Reassess your lawn program.
Do you need as much lawn as you have because it uses a lot of resources for little environmental benefit? What lawn you have should be mown high. Leave the clippings on it because those will feed the lawn up to 50% of the nitrogen that it needs, overseed it in the fall to fight weeds, compost to fertilize it and aerate it to reduce compaction. For mowing, use quality lawn mowers for better result.
Step # 7 – Properly maintain the garden.
Gardens may be low maintenance but they are never NO maintenance. Regularly weed so plants you put in can establish themselves and not compete for nutrients. Prune trees and shrubs properly to ensure good health. Get rid of invasive plants where you can.
Step # 8 – Water Properly
The rule of thumb is 1” per week and deep watering not frequent watering so water gets to the plant roots. Wean new plants off water dependence, don’t overwater and watch for drought & plant stress.
Step # 9 – Manage pests organically.
There are a ton of OMRI approved products to use that are effective but don’t harm the planet. Garlic sprays, insecticidal soaps, horticultural oil, vinegar and hot pepper spray to name a few.
Step # 10 – Get outside.
Nothing replaces being preemptive by looking closely at your plants and trees regularly for early warning signs before something gets out of hand. The earlier you catch problems the easier it is to solve them.