Fall Lawn Care: A How-To for Healthy Lawns, Hold the Pesticide

This fall is a particularly good time to go organic with your lawn care.

The Mayor and Council on April 26 voted unanimously to allow Montgomery County’s pesticide law to apply in the city, effective Jan. 1. The law restricts the use of certain pesticides on private lawns, playgrounds, mulched recreation areas and childcare facilities, prohibiting most synthetic pesticides.

Organic lawn care is healthier for children, pets and the environment. And it doesn’t mean your lawn has to be any less healthy or green. Here are some simple things to do to make a successful switch to an organic lawn:
Take a soil test. Tests cost $10-18 and will help you plan for what your lawn needs for good soil health.

Feed your soil (not with fertilizers). Core aerate the lawn if the soil is compacted, and feed the soil with compost, earthworm castings, compost tea or other natural materials to boost soil microorganisms.

Mow smart. Set your mower blade to cut higher than 4 inches and sharpen your blades after every 12 hours of use. Leaving the lawn longer is healthier for the grass, helps to reduce weeds and does not mean you’ll cut the grass any more often. Rather than bagging lawn clippings, just leave them to fertilize the lawn.

Use your hands, not herbicides. Pull a few weeds a day, or for an hour or two of healthy exercise each week. Leave some clover to help provide nitrogen to the soil, and tolerate a few dandelions, violets or other flowering plants that are good for pollinators and wildlife. Avoid quick or frequent watering sessions, which encourages weeds to grow. Water deeply, and infrequently, to promote healthy grass root growth.

Overseed and fight weeds. The denser your grass, the harder it is for weeds to become established. Check with a local landscape supplier or company that mixes certified seed blends for our region to get the best grass for your lawn. Fall is best for broad overseeding, but you can repair bare or thin patches of lawn in spring.

For tips and additional information about organic lawn care, visit montgomerycountymd.gov/lawns.

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