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August 23rd, 2011

Weeding an Organic Lawn

I’m trying to maintain my lawn organically. But I became discouraged by weeds and came close to buying a bag of weedkiller at the hardware store. How can I eliminate weeds without poisons?

blog-dougYou are wise to be skeptical of chemical weedkillers. Read the warning label on one of those products and you’ll think twice before using it anywhere near yourself and your family.

Once you’ve decided to eliminate poisonous chemicals from the equation, you’ll need to change your perception of what constitutes a beautiful lawn. Perfectly weed-free lawns are nearly always chemically induced. Nature doesn’t create monocultures on its own; if left to nature, your lawn would fill with a variety of plants. And who’s to say that a natural lawn isn’t prettier than one whose tidy appearance comes at a toxic price?

In my small patch of lawn, I hand-weed the dandelions and plantain, rake out the ground ivy, and welcome the white clover. One easy technique for improving your lawn’s ability to combat weeds is to set your mower blade at its highest setting in summer. Mowing low gives the weeds an unfair advantage over turfgrass.

Although a turfgrass lawn is the “default” choice for home landscapes, you should consider alternative groundcovers that blanket the ground but don’t need to be mowed, watered, or fed. Options include sedges, moss, creeping thyme or sedums, dichondra, and clover. Or put the space to productive use and grow organic vegetables and herbs. —Doug Hall

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