East Peoria Green Team: Safe and simple lawn care

Bob Joregensen/ East Peoria Green Team
According to Bob Jorgensen from the East Peoria Green Team, to keep a healthy looking lawn, "set the mower high so it cuts only the top one-third of the grass. Use the mulch setting and leave the clippings on the lawn. This will shade the soil and keep it from drying out. The clippings will add nutrients to the lawn. You will need to mow a little more often, but your yard will be healthier and look better."

Here it is April and spring again. We are all pleased to see an end to winter and get outside. The drawback to spring is that you need to keep your lawn looking as nice as your neighbors. Using dangerous chemicals can be avoided with some simple steps. These environmentally friendly tips will make your yard safe for your children and pets while improving its appearance.

Initially you will want to look carefully at your lawn. Does it have too many weeds? What kind of weeds are they? Where are they located? Is excess thatch a problem? Are your bare spots out in the sun or in the shade? These clues will help you deal with your weeds.

One of the first steps you can take is to have the soil in your yard tested for PH levels. You can contact Kull Scape in East Peoria for testing. If your yard is too acid you will be told to apply some lime. If it is not acidic enough you will need to add sulfur. These can be purchased at lawn and garden centers. 

The second major step in improving many lawns is to have it aerated. If you are a Do It Yourself type you can rent an aerator at most tool rental stores. You can also hire many lawn care services to do this for you. An aerator looks like a big lawnmower. You will walk behind the aerator as it moves across your yard. It will punch and pullout plugs, pieces of soil that look like short fingers. You can rake these up, or leave them on the yard to be washed away in the next couple of rains. You need to aerate when the grass is actively growing and before you spread fertilizer on the yard. So this is a good time to do this. The aeration helps to break up soil that is too compacted, make it easier for natural decomposition and worms to build up the soil. It also will help reduce the amount of thatch in the lawn. Some thatch is good, because it shades the grass, the rainwater, and keeps windblown dust out of the air. When you are done with these steps you will need to choose the correct grass seed for your lawn. You will want to use a full sun or a shade mix where appropriate. 

Your next step is adding some type of fertilizer to the lawn. This is the step where you skip the dangerous chemicals and use some mix of natural materials that will not endanger your children or pets when they are playing in the grass. Milorganite  is a good choice. It is a very slow nitrogen releasing compound with non-leaching phosphorous. There are also some ways to control any weeds you have, but a good way to