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Safe Lawn Care with Ash and Other Organics

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

If you're looking for an organic alternative to chemical fertilizers, consider ash. If your lawn tends to wither during the season and turn light green or yellow in hue, ash just might provide the right balance of nutrients to restore your soil and promote healthy growth. The problem with natural amendments is that they can take several cycles, but if you're patient, the long-term effects can be substantial, and non-toxic.

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A common deficiency plaguing lawns is a shortage of calcium. There are plenty of organic lawn care amendments for calcium deficits, including shells, lime, and gypsum. But organic gardening expert Kate Gardner believes that hardwood ash can contain upwards of 50 percent of organic calcium in it. However, ashes do increase acidity in soil pH, so if you already have an imbalance, you may want to try something else. Remember, dandelions love high soil acidity.

Lawn Care: Looking for Deficiencies in Lawns
It may be worth a soil test just to see how well your soil is holding up under use. Here are some common nutrient deficiencies, their telltale signs, and remedies:

Calcium Deficiency
Symptom: Grass turns rusty color, curl-ups, or withers.
Natural remedies: Reduce nitrogen fertilizers. Apply ash or copper sulfate.

Nitrogen Deficiency
Symptom: Lawn is dying at tips. Leaves turn yellow or pale green.
Natural remedies: Apply blood meal, feather meal, cotton seed meal, corn gluten meal, or cottonseed meal.

Iron Deficiency
Symptom: Grass leaves go pale yellow.
Natural remedies: Reduce phosphorus fertilization. Use cheleated iron or iron sulfate.

Sulfur Deficiency
Symptom: Lawns turn yellow at the tops of the leaves.
Natural remedies: Apply phosphate rock, gypsum, or elemental sulfur.

While moving away from chemical fertilizers can be a difficult decision, using natural fertilizers can make all the difference in the health of your lawn.


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

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