This post is in the Organic Gardening category, but the content is only “mostly organic”. Having said that the content I have found over at Consumer Reports.org is a useful overview of how to care for your lawn without resorting to fertilizers or pesticides. Their answer to fertilizer is just to leave the clippings as mulch and add compost once a year. Then follows a section on how to deal with 10 common weeds with suggested remedies for each.
The average yard contains 10 times more chemicals per acre than a typical commercial farm. You can make your lawn less toxic by skipping the nitrogen-rich, fast-releasing fertilizer. Instead, mulch grass clippings when you mow and apply compost once or twice per year.
But what about all of the weeds that can ravage a yard, especially during the summer months? Thick, healthy turfgrass is the best defense because it won?t allow weeds to take root in the first place. Overseeding thin spots in the lawn will help maintain a thick carpet. In garden beds, a layer of mulch, whether bark chips or mulched leaves, will keep weeds down and retain moisture in the soil.
Even with those precautions, some weeds are bound to infiltrate your property. Blasting them with Roundup isn?t the best idea because the health effects of glyphosate, an active ingredient, and other herbicides like it aren?t fully understood. (The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a division of the World Health Organization, recently determined that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen.)
Here are 10 common weeds and pests that plague homeowners nationwide, along with chemical-free measures that should be effective in bringing them under control. For more information, go to the websites of Beyond Pesticides and the Great Healthy Yard Project.
What to do about weeds
What is it? A perennial weed whose common yellow flowers turn to windblown seed.
Telltale signs. Though a handful of dandelions is no big deal, a lawn that?s ablaze in yellow has underlying problems that need to be addressed.
How to treat. Like many broadleaf weeds, dandelions prefer compacted soil, so going over the lawn with a core aerator (available for rent at home centers) might eradicate them. It also helps to correct soil imbalances, especially low calcium.
What is it? An invasive shrub with green leaves and yellow flowers, often found in yards near wooded areas.
Telltale signs. Left unchecked, the shrub?s dense thickets will start to choke off native trees and plants.
How to treat. Cut back the stems and paint their tips with horticultural vinegar or clove oil (repeated ?applications may be needed). ?Burning the tips with a weed torch might also work.