Steps to a Healthier Lawn

By Nolan Frederick; Owner of Nolan’s Lawn Service- Highlands Ranch

How do you determine if your lawn is doing well? Do you base your decision on the shade of green?

There are several products that are marketed to turn your lawn green if applied every few weeks. Some contain wetting agents, organic matter, and iron.

The quantities of these products applied to your lawn don’t even compare to the tons of soil used in top-dressing.

Many companies earn huge profits by spreading or spraying synthetic chemicals on lawns to turn them green. Sprinklers and rain can create runoff with excessive amount of nutrients or phosphorus from the fertilizer which then enters our watersheds. Algal blooms in our freshwater ponds and lakes produces large amounts of decaying organic matter which consumes oxygen in the water killing aquatic life.

Have you noticed the EPA is removing the root building phosphates from fertilizer? Look at a bag of fertilizer. It lists the main three ingredients as 29-0-4 for example. Is it two ingredients now or still three, but you get 0% of the middle one? Why the eco-friendly change?

Read the warnings on the fertilizer bag, i.e. This product kills fish, is one I recently read. Canada has laws against fertilizer use to protect their waterways for this very reason. Fish are in bodies of water, usually far away from our lawns. If larger organisms such as fish can’t handle fertilizer or the algal blooms, what is it killing in the soil that might be ingesting it?

Last month, I wrote about the benefits of top-dressing your lawn following an aeration to replenish the soil and feed your lawn. Lawns in Douglas County especially, are looking depleted, compacted, and in dire need of fertile soil.

How does fertilizing stand up to top-dressing when compared?

Top-Dressing Fertilizing

Turns Lawns Green Yes Yes

Adds Microorganisms Yes No

Adds Organic Matter Yes No

Harms the environment No Yes

Feeds the Grass Yes Yes

Thickens Lawn Yes Yes

Beneficial to Soil Microbiology Yes No

Retains/Absorbs/Conserves Water Yes No

EPA Removing Harmful Ingredients No Yes

Kills Aquatic Organisms No Yes

Promotes New Grass Shoots Yes Yes

Promotes Worms to Burrow (Aerate) Yes No

Breaks up Clay Yes No

Lessens Water Runoff Yes No

Contains Chemicals No Yes

Levels Lawn Yes No

Materials have increased in cost No Yes

Logical Yes No

So, you determine your lawn is doing well by the shade of green?

Then consider GOING GREEN! Fill empty aeration holes with fertile soil and give the grass roots and worms something to thrive in.

How to Top-dress Your Lawn

1. Mow

2. Aerate heavily

3. Spread Planter Mix at approximately 1 cubic yard (1,100 pounds) per 1,000 - 1,200 square feet of lawn

4. Rake into holes and grass thoroughly. Do not smother grass.

5. Water

Spring Checklist

1. Aerate

2. Feed the Soil

3. Check Sprinkler System and Coverage

4. Sharpen Mower Blade

5. Mow Lawn on Higher Setting

6. Adjust Watering Times to Temperatures and Rainfall

7. Conserve Water (Water between 9 p.m. - 5 a.m.)

8. Enjoy

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