Green vs. Organic
You don’t have to sacrifice your integrity on trying to reduce your Carbon Footprint at the cost of not being Organic. Fertilizer companies will try to get you to apply way more than is really needed by advertising their products with some unknown fashioned up somebody. Right there on the bag is (by federal law) the correct application rate of that particular product. You should first and foremost, at least, have an inclination of your total lawn sq. footage. For example, a 5000 sq.ft. bag is going to come out to approx. two tennis courts. Not that hard now is it? A 15,000 sq.ft. bag is 1/3 acre. Pace it off in squares or rectangles and do the math. More is NOT better.
At the risk of sounding high-and-mighty, I would guess that 75% of my clients will at first tell me their yard is a “typical” sized yard, so that should warrant them to the 15,000 sq.ft. bag….. Come on. Really? I can’t imagine that any homeowner in this economy doesn’t know at least how many pennies are in a dollar, how far a tank of gas will take them, and where the mortgage rates are now. Why not think of how many crabs they are killing in the Chesapeake Bay? Nope, more is not better.
Now, for the skinny on the poop. Check with your local Extension Office for the correct feeding times in your Zone. Check what type of lawn you have (Tall Fescue, Bermuda, Zoysia, etc.). Now you will know when to feed as well as what to avoid feeding. If it’s Tall Fescue, you want to feed Sept., Oct., and Nov. here in Richmond. If its a creeper like Bermuda or Zoysia, then its around May, June, and Aug. See? Cool season grass vs. Warm season grass. When is it hungry? That’s the straight poop. If for example, you are a Tall Fescue fan, if you feed on the recommendation of the media in June/July with the Bug and Feed type junk, then you have just promoted the creepers (you know, the ugly brown out patches in the winter). Then they will sell you another product to “kill” that off, but alas, it’s too late. If its the Bermudas and Zoysias you like, if you feed in the cooler months, especially if it’s going “brown”, then you have just contributed to the Nitrogen overload because that grass is not feeding then, and it’s not absorbed by anything. Simply put, do you eat when you are not hungry? I won’t go into a lot on pH, but testing your soil will keep your feeding to a minimum as well. Lawns, as well as every living plant, need the soil bed to be a certain pH level. When it’s correctly adjusted, the plant will take up food. So when applying lime, if needed, to bring up the pH, make sure you don’t fling it in your Azalea beds, because they prefer Acidic soils, and won’t feed correctly, and there we go with yet another product to apply, killing off beneficial bugs.
So you see, by applying the right product at the right time with the right setting in the right conditions, you are actually shrinking your carbon footprint without being a total “Organic Maniac”. Being that person who says, “My neighbor feeds their lawn 6 times a year and it looks great”, well, OK…. Some time in those 6 feedings, they hit it right. The other times, they aren’t. And therefore, they are killing off my beloved appetizers, contributing to Global Warming by “Greening Up The Bay”. Think about it. I do. And it keeps me up at night.
We will talk about watering later. That’s important too, and yes, there is a simple formula which is different for the grass type you want. But in the mean time think about this. How many aisles of bottled water are in your favorite grocery store? How many stores in your town? State? In the U.S.? How many billions of gallons are we keeping hostage above ground? We do not “manufacture” water. There is no “new” water on Earth. Its the same, over and over, from the dawn of time. The water you are drinking right now could contain the actual molecules that Moses parted, or the water from a creek on the other side of time. High salinity water does not freeze as well as diluted samples. The Polar Ice Caps are supposed to reflect heat back out to space, keeping us cool. They are dwindling away at an alarming rate. I say free the bottled water so they can catch up. Sure, your tap water might taste bad, but because the aquifers are being harnessed and the water in the ground can’t purify. But after a while, it will taste good again, and the PIC’s will be able to do their job again. Hey, we caused the Dust Bowl, and we corrected it within the same decade. We can do this as well.. I would like to water my vegetable garden in August when it needs it, not on odd or even days.