Fertilizers play an important role in soil fertility and maintaining healthy home lawns. Unfortunately, nitrogen-heavy fertilizers are known to runoff into other water systems like lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. When this happens extensively, it can contribute to a red tide. A red tide is an event that occurs on the coastline when harmful algae grows out of control. The water changes color because the population of algae living in the water becomes so dense.
“The reality of a red tide is well known: respiratory irritation, fish kills and reddish-brown waters are just a few of the devastating results. Removal of the fish is a messy, smelly and drawn-out process,” states Mac Carroway, Executive Director of the Environmental Research & Education Foundation. Read more.
Additionally, when shellfish are contaminated from this phenomenon and consumed, it can cause Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP).
As a result, many homeowners are beginning to turn away from natural home lawns—misunderstanding the nutrition adjustments that can be made and the numerous environmental benefits of natural turfgrass.
With such environmental implications and the introduction of artificial turfgrass, it’s critical to understand the benefits of natural turfgrass vs. some of these other options to feed it earth-friendly nutrition and reduce harmful effects to the environment.
Follow some of the tips below to begin feeding your lawn earth-friendly nutrition.
Test your soil
Your soil’s health is what determines the overall health of your grass and other plants. When you work from the ground up, you are ensuring superior grass quality.
Fertilizing your lawn won’t be useful if you’re applying nutrients your soil is already plentiful in. It’s a waste of money, time, effort and it usually causes runoff to natural waterways—this is exactly what we don’t want.
Testing your soil is an inexpensive way to determine exactly what your lawn needs more and less of. Learn more.
Add more organic matter
What is organic matter?
Along with nitrogen and oxygen, carbon is one of the essential building blocks of all organic life. This also includes soil.
Like plants and animals, soil is also carbon-based and needs carbon, nitrogen and oxygen to remain balanced and healthy. Carbon can be found in organic matter you can add to your soil.
Why is organic matter important?
Organic matter improves your soil’s capacity to store and supply essential nutrients and retain toxic elements. It also allows the soil to adjust with any changes in soil pH and helps soil minerals decompose faster.
In other words, organic matter can reduce the amount of fertilizer inputs in your home landscape because it already provides nutrients naturally.
Carbon found in organic matter also supports microbial growth. Soil consists of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms. Grass lawns enhance soil microbial diversity when compared to bare soil and it helps regulate microbial community composition. Learn more here.
Where do I find organic matter?
Soil organic compounds can be found in the form of manure, compost, top dressing made with a sand and soil mix and other organic amendments.
Compost is a great all around option for both helping with drainage and providing organic material. The sand will help increase drainage and allow more air to access the root system while the topsoil will add organic material to your soil’s mixture.
Sand will also help to maintain a leveled yard over time as it doesn’t compact easily. Be sure to mix the topsoil and sand so that it is fully blended if this is not already done.
One of the easiest ways to nourish a yard sustainably is by collecting fallen leaves and other natural yard material to use as compost.
Composting fallen leaves will also serve as a valuable source for organic matter that helps to improve your soil.
Like fallen leaves used for composting, lawn clippings after a mow will also provide nutrients to grass. This saves you from having to use more fertilizer.
Lawn clippings will also improve soil condition and quality as it increases the activity of beneficial microorganisms.
Include more micronutrients
If your turfgrass seems to be struggling, adding more nitrogen isn’t always the answer. When it’s not needed, it contributes to runoff which is bad for the environment. This is where micronutrients might come in handy.
Micronutrients are often the underdog when it comes to lawn and garden nutrition. Many fertilizers are primarily filled with macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) while micronutrients are forgotten.
However, the right micronutrients can pay big dividends in turfgrass health—especially in sandy soils with a high pH.
Micronutrients are needed in a smaller supply than macronutrients, but they are still just as critical to overall plant and soil health. A few micronutrients include iron, magnesium, manganese, copper and sulfur. Learn about each of their functions here.
A soil test should be performed to determine what soil levels, pH levels and nutrient levels are present. This will tell you how much of which nutrients your lawn needs.
Use an earth-friendly fertilizer
Fertilizer provides nourishment your home landscape needs to survive, however, applying fertilizers excessively is not healthy for the environment—especially when formulations are mainly made up of nitrogen.
Lawnifi is a fertilizer line that gives your lawn and garden the nutrients it needs with the use of less fertilizer and improved results. Powered by Catalyst TechnologyTM, essential macro and micronutrients are nano-sized, so less fertilizer product is needed.
Catalyst Technology also encapsulates nutrients to keep them from bonding with other ions and anions in the soil. This means the nutrients will actually reach your plants in place of sitting in the soil.
Lawnifi uses 80 percent less nitrogen while encouraging healthy soils and microbial populations through humates, carbon and the micronutrients plants need to thrive.
Three of the four Lawnifi bottles are carbon-based and will contribute to an appropriate carbon-nitrogen ratio to keep your soil and grass balanced and healthy.
The fourth Lawnifi product, Boost, delivers a controlled release nitrogen package that greens up grass quickly and continues to feed for up to six weeks. One bottle of Boost delivers .66 pounds of nitrogen for 5,000 sq. ft., or only .132 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft.
Lastly, the granular formulation of Lawnifi, Foundation, should be applied once every three months, which reduces fertilizer applications. It also features controlled release nitrogen that continues to feed for a longer duration.
Learn more about Lawnifi in Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer?.
Although artificial turfgrass and xeriscaping are environmental options, natural turfgrass boasts many benefits for the environment that other landscapes aren’t capable of doing. Adjusting the ways you nourish your landscape can make a huge difference in how earth-friendly your lawn is. The above tips will help you maintain a sustainable, earth-friendly, natural lawn.