1. Obtain a soil test to get an analysis of what nutrients you need. Check with your local university cooperative extension service or visit www.SoilFoodWeb.com for information.
2. Grow the right grass. The most common lawn grasses, Kentucky bluegrass and Bermuda grass, need the most water and fertilizer. Species such as perennial ryegrass, fescue and centipede grass may be better for your region.
3. Water well in the morning so the lawn surface dries during the day. Water deeply and infrequently so grass roots grow deep into the soil.
4. Soil is alive. “Dirt” is what you track into the house, but soil is filled with living organisms. Nurture it with natural amendments to achieve a successful lawn without toxic chemicals.
5. Mow properly. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn provides half its fertilizer needs for the season. Keep your mower blades sharp. Depending on the species, lawns should be cut no lower than 2.5 inches—even higher in summer.
6. Avoid synthetic materials. Lab-manufactured fertilizers can burn grasses and soil. Fertilizers and soil amendments should contain mined minerals, such as lime or sulfur, or materials that were once living plants or animals.
7. Add compost. Compost contains beneficial microorganisms that interact with organic fertilizers to provide a lush lawn.
8. Think of weeds as messengers. Weeds appear when something is wrong with the soil. If you kill weeds, they’ll return unless you fix the underlying soil problem.
For more information, visit www.SafeLawns.org , a nonprofit organization that promotes environmentally friendly lawn care and resource conservation.