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The Organic Lawn

September 17th, 2012

Just like the rest of my gardens, the lawn here at Chiot’s Run is organic. It doesn’t require much care, mowing a few times a month and a top dressing of chicken manure twice a season. Other than that, it’s left to fend for itself. I’d describe the lawn as “a mixed herbal lawn”. Whatever grows is allowed to stay.

The lawn area has shrunk by at least half since we moved in. It was replaced with food and seed producing plants. We’ll never be without a little spot of lawn though, I really love the look and I think if you allow mixed herbs and wildflowers to grow it does add a beneficial habitat to your garden.

As a result, I can count about 15-20 different species of plants; different grasses, white Dutch clover, plantain (both tall and short), creeping charlie, wild violets, and a few other various species of “herbs”. The lawn is also full of insects of all shapes and sizes, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, spiders, moths, and many other things that creep, crawl, hop, burrow, and slither.

To some of my neighbors, this would be a travesty. They’d douse their lawns with chemicals to get rid of weeds, kill bugs, and to make the remaining finely bladed grass lush and green. Organic lawns really are healthier, the mix of plants provides an ecosystem all it’s own. My lawn is teeming with life, even after this summer’s drought. My neighbor’s perfectly sprayed carpet of green on the other hand, is mostly dead.┬áThis was their lawn last week:

This was my lawn last week:

So what can you do to help your lawn and go organic?

  • overseed with some white dutch clover
  • allow herbs and other plants to grow
  • add rock dusts according to your soil type, like gypsum, etc.
  • use natural fertilizers like chicken manure, bone meal and blood meal
  • top dress with compost or other organic matter

The proof is in the pudding when it comes to tough summers like this one. My lawn was lush and green most of the summer. A few varieties of grass and other plants went dormant, but other ones kept going strong. Because I don’t add chemicals, the soil gets better each year and thus the lawn looks better and better each and every year, even when there’s a drought.

Do you have any area of the garden dedicated to a lawn?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.