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Putting Your Lawn in Rehab

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

Although the comparison might rankle, consider that a lawn raised on artificial chemicals can go into withdrawals like an aching junkie when you switch to organic lawn care. That's the opinion of landscaper Paul Tukey, founder of the Safelawns Coalition, who says homeowners have to remain patient if their lawn doesn't respond rapidly to a switch to natural or organic fertilizers, soil amendments, and pest control.

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In the first year especially, Tukey reports, the lawn may not green up to your liking, and you may spend a lot of time diagnosing trouble, ranging from correcting soil pH, adding beneficial nematodes or organic soil amendments, to learning how to mow and water correctly to fight stress and disease.

Transitioning to Organic Lawn Care
We're talking chemical dependency here. That means weaning your lawn off of heavy artificial or chemical fertilizers that promote explosive spring growth to a more modest (read: less green) level growth over the entire season. After years of the equivalent of drug abuse, organisms in the soil that digest the fertilizer may be totally inert, exhausted, or dead, leaving no functional means to transmit beneficial nutrients to hungry roots in the lawn. A gradual, three- to four-year transition to organic lawn care may be the most cost-effective way to nurse your lawn and soil through detox.

According to the Safelawns Coalition, only 35 percent of synthetic lawn fertilizer actually reaches the roots, anyway, with the balance leeched into groundwater or into the air as vapor. A slow-release organic fertilizer can have a greater success rate in soil penetration and absorption by plant life.

If you're after a total makeover in treating your soil and grasses, then the entire process takes patience to be done correctly, and may require a product-for-product swap.


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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