Ecological Lawn Care in Ottawa-Carleton
In nature, many kinds of plants grow together in mutual support,
an ecosystem. But, if there is no possible replacement for a
grass-only lawn in your heart, you can still be good to our
earth. Toxin-free lawn care works. Here's how:
- Mow High. Grass doesn't drink its food
through its roots, it manufactures its food in its leaves - the
green parts. Grass cut an inch high is as healthy as you would be
on one meal a week. Two inches (5 cm) is the absolute minimum for
healthy grass, three inches (8 cm) is best. Long grass shades its
roots to keep them cool, and shades out weeds so they find it
harder to grow.
- Water Deeply and Seldom. Bluegrass lawns
need about one inch of water once a week. (Fescues and perennial
ryegrasses need only about half that much.) Put a small can on
the lawn before turning the sprinkler on to measure watering
accurately. Frequent light sprinklings encourage shallow weak
- Mulch Clippings. Mow often enough that no
more than 1/3 of the leaf length is removed at one time, and
leave the clippings in the grass. This reduces the need for
fertilizer by 30%.
- Aerate and Overseed. Grass roots must
breathe air to work properly. A grass plant growing in soil
packed tight as concrete is as healthy as you would be with your
head in a plastic bag. That's tap root soil - dandelions. Rent a
small aerator once each year, or ask an organic lawn care
business to do it. June is best, when there are the fewest weed
seeds blowing around. Then rake it all smooth, overseed with a
bit of high quality red/Chewings fescue grass seed, and water it
- Fertilize in Fall. Use a slow-release
granular fertilizer, once a year. Never over-fertilize - too much
actually weakens grass. Organic fertilizers are best - they last
the whole year, and prevent weak green growth that bugs love to
- Enjoy It! Only the weeds and bugs that
threaten a lawn's health or our's really need to be removed. A
lawn is healthier when several kinds of grass cooperate to deal
with differing conditions around your home. And, 90% of insects
around your home actually help your lawn grow.
Three types of grasses make excellent lawns in Ottawa-Carleton -
all have leaves under 6 mm wide. Your lawn will be naturally
healthier with each in their best areas.
- bluegrass: V-shaped leaves with fairly blunt
ends. If you buy sod, this is what you have. It needs a lot of
water and sun compared to other grasses.
- Chewings fescue: very fine leaves with
slightly rolled edges and visible veins. For shady areas, this is
the best good-looking grass. Creeping red fescue is best for dry
- perennial ryegrass: leaves with prominent
veins, shinier below than above. If you regularly have insect
problems, this is your grass, varieties 'Cutter' and 'Edge' in
For more details on toxin-free lawn care, read "How to get
your lawn & garden off drugs" by Carole Rubin.
Provided by the Health Dangers of Urban Use of Pesticides Working Group
of the Region of Ottawa-Carleton, Ontario Canada.
Approved by Regional government and by the Ottawa-Carleton Health Department.
Please feel free to copy.