Go ‘green’ with eco-friendly lawn care

Ah, it's just so lush! It doesn't have to be toxic though.
Ah, it’s just so lush! It doesn’t have to be toxic though.

Keeping your lawn full, lush and green is one of the most dramatic ways to spruce up your property. And thanks to new fertilizers that are better for the environment, homeowners can now keep their lawn care “green” as well.

“The big industry players have eliminated phosphorous from their lawn fertilizers, except for starter and organic products,” says Charlotte Kidd, owner of In the Garden, a Flourtown, Pa., company that focuses on garden design, care and workshops. “Grass, once it’s established, doesn’t need a lot of phosphorous, so you don’t need to add it anyway.”

The nutrient that fluctuates in soil is nitrogen, which is plentiful in grass clippings. Kidd recommends letting them decompose in place after mowing. “If you put down a little compost or top dress your lawn lightly with humus [in the spring], that should be sufficient,” she says.

Don’t add any nutrients until you find out what kind of soil you already have. “Start with a soil test,” Kidd says. The results will include the soil pH as well. If you’ve added lime as a matter of habit, it’s possible the pH level is normal now and you don’t need to add it anymore.

“It’s important to have a healthy lawn to prevent erosion,” Kidd says, “so you want to keep your soil healthy” — but you probably don’t need chemical fertilizers for that.

Test your soil
The Extension office of Penn State’s agricultural school provides low-cost soil testing. The $10 fee covers a kit with instructions and report forms, a sample bag and a mailer. After you take the samples and mail them to University Park, the lab there will analyze the amounts of various nutrients in your soil. Their report will include those numbers, plus research-based recommendations for what additives, if any, you need to get the garden you want.

The Philadelphia office is at Two Penn Center Plaza, Suite 200; their phone number is 215-471-2200. They’re open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here to visit them online.

Put down that hose
Should you water your lawn during rain-free periods? Probably not. Usually grass doesn’t die, it just goes dormant when it’s not getting enough water, according to Kidd: “A healthy lawn will come through a drought just fine.”

If you are going to water, she recommends watering your trees, shrubs and perennials. “They’d be a lot more expensive to replace than a little grass.”

Leave the dandelions alone
“A healthy lawn will not a have a lot of weeds,” Kidd says. And if it does have clover, that’s good — clover fixes the nitrogen, keeping the nutrient available in the soil. Got dandelions? “Eat the young greens, then dig them out,” she says. “But is this the battle you want to fight? Would you rather spend your weekend digging out dandelions or doing something fun?”

Avoid glowing in the dark
Phosphorous is one of the main culprits in nutrient loading, where fertilizer runoff causes excess algae growth in rivers and bays. These unbalanced ecosystems become dead zones that can’t support fish, shellfish and water birds, and can sometimes lead to massive fish kills. Reducing phosphorous can help return water to a safe state for swimming and fishing.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

FDNY debuts new fire simulator for blazes at…

The New York City Fire Department christened its newest, state-of-the-art, custom-built simulator at its training academy on Randall's Island Tuesday.

Local

Bronx cop saves baby who stopped breathing

A Bronx police officer is credited with saving the life of a 2-month-old baby who stopped breathing Tuesday morning. Police Officer Johnny Castillo, 38, was…

Local

Brewer celebrates Women's Equality Day with voter pledge

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer celebrated Women’s Equality Day Tuesday by pledging to register at least five women voters before the Oct. 10 deadline. Brewer…

Local

NYPD looking for lewd D train rider

The NYPD is enlisting the public’s help to find a man they say performed a lewd act on the D train Saturday evening. The incident…

Entertainment

QUIZ: How many English words do you actually…

Are you as smart as you say you are? Are you a word nerd? Take this quick vocabulary test to find out if you're a true wordsmith. Good luck.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 12,…

If you've wondered whether Ali and Bethany knew each other, you got an answer tonight: Yes, and in a very tangled way. But many lingering…

Entertainment

Cymbals Eat Guitars Have Everything to 'LOSE'

At its most basic level, a rock band can be thought of as a family, a group of people selflessly devoted to a cause. When…

Entertainment

"Bachelor in Paradise" recap: Episode 4, 'Week Four'

Some things are hard to watch in a “Human Centipede” sort of way. Other things in an “American History X” sort of way. Does “Bachelor…

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Wellbeing

Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…

Home

Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.

Travel

Most popular Labor Day weekend destinations

Priceline.com released its Top 20 destinations for the end of summer, including Labor Day weekend. If you’re heading to any of these spots, expect a…

Wellbeing

Working your way to type 2 diabetes: Job…

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, a stressful job can be as risky for your health as a bad diet and no exercise. A…