Can I Grow Grass Organically?
The short answer, NO! Not if you want a golf course like lawn. I’m sorry folks, but it just is not possible. A “grass green” lawn, with no weeds, all the same species, just does not exist in nature. Consider the grasses of the field, as the Bible says “they don’t labor or spin and yet are clothed in splendor” but also consider the grasses of the field are mixed no matter where you live in the nation.
When I set out on the journey to build the best lawn in my city, and yes that is my goal, I was amazed at how hard it actually is to do. Keep in mind my father taught turf management with his Agronomy degree, so I thought I had a leg up. I also have a gardener with a Horticultural degree that helps me, and we still struggle to get the grass the way we want it with my new lawn.
Beautiful green, even grass really does not occur in nature. Look at a field and it’s a mixture of many grasses, textures and colors. The field has dry patches, changes with the weather, the season and with natural diseases like fungus and insects. What does that mean for your lawn? In short, if you want a perfectly green lawn you have to suppress all but one species of grass, keep that grass at the perfect moisture level, feed the grass well and suppress most all disease. That can’t happen naturally! Organic gardening by its very nature lets nature do its thing to balance diseases, predators, moisture, etc.
When you want to control all the variables in your lawn you sadly can’t do that organically. It requires herbicides to control broad leafed weeds, herbicides to kill other grasses, inorganic fertilizers to keep the grass green, herbicides to prevent the grass from creeping into your beds and finally irrigation of some kind. When I started my garden I was adamant that I would never use herbicides or pesticides. You can certainly grow your lawn organically, but you can forget your lawn looking like a baseball diamond. It’s just not possible.
So what are my suggestions? If you choose to grow your lawn organically understand it will move with the seasons and be a mixture of many different grasses. If you plan to use inorganic methods do your homework on the chemicals that do the least amount of damage to the environment and try to apply them as little as possible. Also, do your best to control runoff when you can. You may also want to have less mown grass, opting instead for beds of stone or mulch, naturalized turf areas and grown cover.
As for this gardener I’m still struggling with wanting to be organic but having the lawn I want. That is the first step in the right direction to finding new solutions for old issues. Good luck!