Practically Green: Bring lawn back to life using natural techniques

by Ivory Soap on 05/03/2011

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I stopped using synthetic lawn chemicals years ago. So, naturally, I have nothing but weeds.

I thought this was the price of having a front lawn where my children and pets could safely wallow.

But I’m under contract for a book coming out next year, “Little House in the Suburbs,” and the photographer is coming in July to take pictures of my yard.

I turned to the Internet. Surely someone has a beautiful lawn without chemicals, I hoped.

Read the full article HERE.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather May 3, 2011 at 10:07 am

I work in a nursery in NY, so the products I’m about to list may or may not be available in your area (and prices may vary), but it’s worth checking. Also, I realize you’re having someone else do it, but it might be handy to some other readers:

Calcium – It’s not just the calcium, it’s also the pH. Many lawn weeds thrive in acidic lawns, so using a lime product can be very, very helpful in reducing these weeds. A simple pH test (available in most garden centers) can tell you just how acidic your soil is, and give you an idea of how frequently you’ll really want to do anything pH wise. A really acidic lawn (5.5 ph or lower) you might want to lime in spring and fall for two or three years, before testing again. A more moderately acidic lawn (5.5-6) might be a once a year treatment. Grass thrives in a pH of 6.3 to 6.8, so you never want to overlime anyway, especially considering your soil (some soil types are more prone to acid or alkaline situations.

Something that is natural calcium and pH buffer is a product called Hi Cal Lime, and should be available all over the country. Unlike pellitized lime (which here runs 4.99 a bag and covers 1000 sq/ft), Hi Cal is more effective (it’s in part the calcium) and a single bag, while more expensive (16.99 here) covers 10,000 sq ft. For someone with a lawn less than 3,000 sq ft, buy the pelletized. But if you have a larger area, the Hi Cal is not only safe, it’s also more cost effective.

Ivory Soap May 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Thank you! I just had my treatment this morning and I’m super excited!

Sister Morphine May 4, 2011 at 6:13 am

thanks! good to know!

Cipollina May 4, 2011 at 8:30 am

Here in Europe nobody uses only grass in their lawns, but a mixture of up to 20 various low growing plants that succeed each other through the seasons keeping the lawn low maintenance and lush the whole time, with little watering and max three-four cuttings a year. I have yet to encounter anybody who have ever used any chemicals apart from the occasional fertilizer (which with the right mixture of plants often aren’t necessary), and then most people go for chicken poop or their own urine and things like that for this and not anything synthetic from the shop.

One lawn mix that really helps keeping maintenance low is one that among other things contains a lot of dwarf clover (I think they call it ‘Dutch white clover’ in English – it is not regular white clover), which adds nitrogen to the lawn by itself so you don’t have to, perennial rye grass, English daisies, and dwarf yarrow. All these plants are edible besides – and even good for you.

Maybe the best thing is that the random weed won’t show, not even close up, because all the various textures and green nuances make everything blend and will fool your eye into thinking all you see is a uniform lush green.

Heather May 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Cipollina- I love that. My own yard (even though I’m in grass-centric America) is made up of a mixture of grass (mostly fescue, since it’s pretty drought tolerant and I barely ever water my lawn) and clover. I actually seeded clover in certain areas where grass has trouble. There are a lot of small, low growing options to go along with grass, and I think they are far under utilized here in the states.

Ginny May 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Great article, Ivory, from one writer to another. From researching a similar (though I don’t think quite as good) article I did learn that grass clippings are best left on the lawn as mulch. May your grass be always green! *salutes*

Ivory Soap May 6, 2011 at 7:12 am


I knew I left something out! I forgot to mention that.

Lisa May 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Paul Tukey is my neighbor! I always get a kick out of seeing his work pop up in unexpected places.

No chemicals on our lawn either. At least weeds are green.

Ivory Soap May 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Neato! I’m such a fan.

Sprinkler System Store May 17, 2011 at 9:41 am

Many of the products on the market today are hazardous. However, there are many natural items which, as stated above, do the same things as the manufactured formulas.

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