It is in everyone's interest to argue for the tolerance of lawn eco-diversity with Condo Boards, Home Owner Associations, Cities, and Villages, but if need be, here are some tips for preserving that green swath:
- Mow at 3". This allows grass to remain strong and shade out some weeds. And water infrequently, but deeply, to promote root growth; early in the morning is best.
- Do a soil test. If there are problems with pH or other imbalances, those can be corrected organically.
- Clover is not a weed and should not be treated as such. Have you heard of the phrase "in clover"? Because it fixes nitrogen in the soil and supports grass growth, clover was originally considered the ideal lawn. Only when it was found that the chemicals used (2,4-D) to kill dandelions killed clover did the marketers begin branding it as a weed.
- For dandelions, I recommend tolerance, hand-weeding, or 11% vinegar, squirted right on the dandelion. Excellent results have also been obtained from a new product called Avenger, which is citrus oil-based. http://avengerorganics.com/Products/AvengerWeedKillerOrganicHerbicide/tabid/66/Default.aspx A handy hand-weeding tool is available at Lee Valley Garden Tools.
- Some people recommend the use of organic fertilizers like composted manure, compost, compost tea, corn gluten, or milorganite, which is processed human waste. Others recommend the use of gypsum for aeration, or physical aeration with a machine or other device.
- It is a good idea to overseed regularly. Lawn grasses are rarely allowed to propagate by seed, so reseeding may be necessary.
For more information, visit http://midwestpesticideaction.org/what-you-can-do/in-your-home/ , www.energyandfacilities.harvard.edu/facilities-services/landscape-maintenance, and http://www.pureprairieorganics.net/