Want to know the secret to having healthy, thick, lush grass in your yard? Well, aside from applying Worm Tea to your lawn instead of chemical fertilizers, I'll give you two easy organic tricks that'll help give you a healthier lawn.
1. Mow smarter. This means mowing less and setting your lawn mower to the highest setting when you do mow. The roots of your grass mirror the blades you see above-ground. If you whack your grass blades down to a half-inch or an inch every seven days, your lawn's roots will never really have the chance to penetrate the soil. Without deep roots, you'll have a weak lawn-- it won't handle foot traffic well, it will be susceptible to disease and pests, and it won't be able to handle dry conditions.
Also, lose the bag on your mower. Grass clippings provide some great nutrients to your lawn. When you leave the grass mulch on your lawn, and you apply Worm Tea, the mulch serves as a food source for the microorganisms in the Tea. The microorganisms break down the mulch and release nutrients into the soil. Organic matter being broken down by bacteria, fungi and other microbes-- this is the all-natural way of providing nutrients to plants that the planet has been employing for thousands of years. No need for lab chemicals.
2. Water smarter. This means turning your sprinkler on only when necessary. Instead of watering your lawn every day for 10 minutes, water once every 7-10 days for 35-45 minutes. And if it's rained within the past 10 days, don't bother watering at all. Also, if your grass looks good, it might not even need a watering. Allowing water to go deep into your soil means your lawn's roots will follow the water deep into your soil. Those short waterings most people do mean water stays near the surface and evaporates. The roots never go very deep because the water never goes very deep.
Watering in the morning is the best time. Watering after 11am means the hot sun will evaporate too much surface water, and watering in the evening promotes bad fungal growth.
Also, when you turn the sprinkler on too often, it introduces more nasty chemicals to your soil-- like chlorine, which is added to water to kill bacteria. Bacteria, however, is an absolutely essential component to healthy soil. That means every time you apply water to your lawn from your hose, you're killing billions of beneficial microorganisms. Limit this by watering less frequently.
Finally, the best day to water is the day before you apply Worm Tea. That way, any beneficial bacteria you kill with the tap water from your hose (which has chemicals like fluoride, chlorine, etc) will be replaced the next day.
So here's an ideal scenario for mowing and watering:
Day 1. Mow your lawn. Keep it at a length of 2-3 inches, and let the clippings fall onto your lawn.
Day 2. Water for 35-45 minutes at around 8am.
Day 3. Apply Worm Tea to your lawn to replenish the microorganisms lost with your watering and to break down the grass clippings.
Day 4-8. Enjoy your lawn with friends, family and pets!
Day 9. Mow, if necessary. During hot summer months in Michigan, grass goes dormant, so it's often not necessary to mow as often.
Day 10. Water for 35-45 minutes.
Day 11. Apply Worm Tea.
Steve & Corey Veldheer are organic yard & garden specialists in west Michigan.