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Nothing Corny: Natural Fertilizer and Weed Control for Your Lawn

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

Americans love their "weed and feed" products, but the products don't necessarily love them back. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that we apply more than 5 million pounds of 2,4-D to our lawns annually, despite research that shows its harmful affects on groundwater and human bodies. If you're looking for a natural alternative, a substance that promotes healthy lawn growth and battles weeds at the same time, look no farther than corn gluten meal.

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When manufacturers process corn into sweeteners, the meal by-product is yellow-tinted gluten, often used to feed farm animals. In researching the substance for use in golf course turf, Iowa State University science professor Nick Christians discovered that corn gluten meal is not only rich in nitrogen, but it also can be used effectively as a pre-emergent weed control on lawns and gardens.

According to Christians, corn gluten meal inhibits root formation in weeds, while working as an excellent source of nitrogen fertilizer for seeds that have already germinated. In his studies, he found it worked exceptionally well in knocking out crabgrass in Kentucky blue.

Lawn Application and Timing
Produced and sold by natural lawn care suppliers, corn gluten meal (9-0-0) contains 10 percent nitrogen. Typically it should be applied by spreader at a rate of 10-30 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn in early spring or late summer (read the manufacturer's label for the correct amounts).

You can water in the corn gluten meal, but should allow a drying period immediately afterward to get the best results. Be sure to wait a few months before re-seeding lawns or the meal may inhibit rooting.

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About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.



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