The ABCs of Organic Lawn Care: Monday May 3 at the Madison Public Library
Madison, NJ – April 30, 2021 – Organic lawn care not only makes lawns safer for children and pets, it saves homeowners time and money, according to Brian Monaghan, a Madison Environmental Commission member who is giving a talk, “The ABCs of Organic Lawn Care and Renovation,” on Monday, May 3 at 7:30 pm at the Madison Public Library. Rutgers Master Gardeners Speakers Bureau is graciously sponsoring this virtual program.
“Organic lawn care is a different way of thinking about your lawn—it’s about feeding the soil not the plants,” says Monaghan. It is also about changing maintenance and keeping grass longer—three to three and a half inches—in order to shade out the weeds.
In Monahan’s experience, going organic typically saves costs after the first year. “Aside from mowing, there’s very little maintenance with an organic lawn,” says Monaghan. “And you have the peace of mind from knowing that you’re not using chemicals with warning labels. We have well water in Madison, so what you put on your lawn does go into the aquifer.”
Here are five ways that going organic is different:
- Organic lawns are about soil. To find out how healthy yours is, Monaghan recommends ordering a soil test kit from Rutgers, www.njaes.rutgers.edu. It costs $20 and will let you know what amendments you need to make.
- Corn gluten is the weed killer of choice. “Corn gluten will knock back crab grass and will be about 65% effective the first year,” says Monaghan. “Your aim is to build up your soil health so that your grass will compete favorably with the weeds and keep them in balance.
- Nutrients come from compost, not chemical fertilizers. Fortunately, compost is easy for Morris County residents to obtain. It can be picked up for free at the Morris County Municipal Authorities location in Parsippany (www.mcmua.com) or delivered for a fee. A 5000 square foot lawn requires four cubic feet of compost, applied a half-inch thick.
- Mowing is minimal. “You don’t want to cut your grass short,” says Monaghan. “If you keep it tall—about two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half inches—it will shade out weeds.”
- Grass clippings should be left on the lawn. Clippings are 80 to 85 percent water. They contain valuable nutrients and decompose quickly, disappearing when they filter down to the soil. Do not mow more than one-third of the length of the grass.