Organic_Lawn_Care

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					                                      Organic Lawn Care

This is a handout that accompanies a presentation on Organic Lawn Care given by
Environmental Research Foundation's Associate Director, Maria B. Pellerano. If you have
questions about this handout or the presentation, please contact Maria at erf@rachel.org . This
handout is available with live links at http://www.rachel.org/library/getfile.cfm?ID=413 .

A Quick Review of Common Cool Season Grasses for New Jersey

Kentucky Bluegrass
      Has great texture, density, color.
      Tolerates heavy traffic.
      Can require higher than average inputs of water, nitrogen, etc.
      Has a rhizome structure, so does not tolerate drought well.
      Somewhat slow to establish from seed.
      Has a medium to high tendency to produce thatch.

Fine Fescues – see http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/pdfs/fs688.pdf
       Low maintenance – require 40-50% less nitrogen than Kentucky Bluegrass.
       Tolerate shady conditions.
       Endophytic (beneficial fungus) varieties that resist pests are available.
       Fine grass blades.

Hard Fescues – a variety of Fine Fescues see http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/pdfs/fs688.pdf
      One of the best choices for low maintenance lawns in N.J.
      Slow growing, so requires less mowing.
      Require less fertilizers.
      Need less water.
      Excellent pest & disease resistance.
      Medium tendency to produce thatch.

Turf-Type Tall Fescues -- http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/pdfs/fs990.pdf
       Drought resistant, deep roots.
       Endophytic varieties resist pests.
       Fine leaf blade.
       Ability to tolerate heavy traffic.
       Newer varieties are useful for low maintenance turfgrass areas.
       Low tendency to produce thatch.

Perennial Ryegrass – see http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/pdfs/fs989.pdf
       Rapid establishment.
       Great for over-seeding.
       May require greater than average mowing.
       Susceptible to Red Thread disease.
       Not drought tolerant.
       Grow poorly in wet areas.
       Low tendency to produce thatch.
Good Websites on Turfgrass and Lawns

For more information on selecting seed see "Turfgrass Seed Selection for Home Lawns"
http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/pdfs/fs684.pdf .

The place to learn about the latest in turfgrass research is the National Turfgrass Evaluation
Program at http://www.ntep.org .

A place to buy high quality seed is http://seedsuperstore.com/ .

Other useful fact sheets on lawns and grasses can be found on the If Plants Could Talk website
(sponsored by Rutgers Cooperative Extension) at
http://www.ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/factsheets/?TopicShrt=LawnCare and at the Rutgers
Cooperative Extension website at
http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/subcategory.asp?cat=5&sub=39 .


What to Do With Your Grass During a Drought

If water restrictions are in place you should not water your lawn.

Allow turfgrass to go into dormancy.
•      Dormancy will protect grass from damage.
•      Infrequent, inadequate watering will drain stored resources from dormant turfgrass.

Stay off lawn to prevent damage.

Do not use fertilizers during a drought or on heat-stressed turfgrass.


What Weeds Tell Us

Problem        Appearance/Symptoms              Cause                        Solution
dandelion      familiar perennial plant with    compacted soil and thin      aerate soil; hand pull at least 80%;
               yellow flowers                   turf cover                   overseed with ryegrasses
crabgrass      low-growing annual with          nutrient-deficient soil,     raise mowing height; hand pull and
               shallow roots and short,         short mowing and soil        apply organic fertilizers
               pointed, hairy leaves            compaction
common         low-growing perennial with       thin turf cover and low      handpull; apply organic fertilizers and
plantain       wide oval leaves                 nutrients in soil            overseed
chinch bug     brown or yellow patches,        stressed or weakened          water deeply once a week; apply
               particularly near driveways and grasses caused by soil        diatomaceous earth; dethatch and
               sidewalks                       compaction and shallow        apply soap and water every 10 - 14
                                               watering                      days
white grub     spongy dead patches that lift    compacted soil, dry sunny    dethatch; water deeply; apply organic
               easily; common in spring and     lawns with short, weak       fertilizer; use soap and water or
               again in late-summer to early-   roots, chemical fertilizer   parasitic nematodes for major
               fall                             use and short weak roots     infestations; over- seed with ryegrass
                                                                             and fescues
dollar spot    small pale circles               dry soil and nitrogen        add organic material; mow infected tips
                                                deficiencies                 and discard clippings
summer patch   dead patches then brown          high nitrogen and low        mow higher and apply organic fertilizer
               rings; during humid summers      mowing


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Alternative Pest Control

"IPM approach" means an integrated pest management approach which employs a hierarchy of
monitoring, cultural, biological (including natural enemies), and chemical controls.

Annual Bluegrass Weevil (IPM approach) – see http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/pdfs/fs1016.pdf

Chinch Bugs – see http://www.toronto.ca/health/hphe/pdf/pesticide_chinch.pdf

Dandelions – see http://www.pesticide.org/dandelions.pdf

Diseases of Landscape Turf – see http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/pdfs/fs814.pdf

Grubs – see http://www.toronto.ca/health/hphe/pdf/pesticide_grubs.pdf

Hairy Chinch Bug (IPM approach) – see http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/pdfs/fs1008.pdf

Red Thread and Pink Patch Disease (IPM approach) – see
http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/pdfs/fs798.pdf

Sod Webworms (IPM approach) – see http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/pdfs/fs1007.pdf

Weeds – see http://www.pesticide.org/weeds.pdf

White Grubs (IPM approach) – see http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/pubs/pdfs/fs1009.pdf


Other Useful Websites

Bio-Integral Resource Center (see http://www.birc.org/ ) sells a number of publications on
alternatives to pesticides; see http://www.keyed.com/birc/pubrep.htm for a list of publications.

Ecological Landscaping Association, see http://www.ela-ecolandscapingassn.org/ .

National Organic Program, United States Department of Agriculture, see
http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/indexIE.htm .

Northeast Organic Farming Association, Connecticut and Massachusetts Chapters Organic Land
Care Program, see http://www.organiclandcare.net/index.php .

Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, have some of the best fact sheets on
pesticides and alternatives to them, see http://www.pesticide.org/factsheets.html . The following
may be of particular interest:
• Taking Care of Your Lawn Without Using Pesticides, see http://www.pesticide.org/lawns.pdf
• Restoring A Lawn Without Chemicals, see http://www.pesticide.org/RestLawn.pdf

Organic Landscape Alliance, see http://www.organiclandscape.org/factsheets.htm



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What Some Governments are Doing About Lawn Care

Arcata, California banned use of pesticides on city property, see
http://www.arcatacityhall.org/municode/ord1300.html .

North Central Texas' Texas SmartScape website, see http://www.txsmartscape.com/ .

Seattle, Washington's Natural Lawn Care website, see
http://www.seattle.gov/util/Services/Yard/Natural_Lawn_&_Garden_Care/Natural_Lawn_Care/i
ndex.asp .

Toronto, Canada's Pesticide Information Portal, including information on its Pesticide By-Laws
(no cosmetic use of pesticides on public or private property), see
http://www.toronto.ca/pesticides/index.htm .


Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) -- Morris County
P.O. Box 900 - Court House
Morristown, NJ 07963-0900
Street Address: County Building 550, West Hanover Avenue, Morristown, NJ
Agriculture and Resource Management
Phone: 973-285-8300
Fax: (973) 605-8195


Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) – Sussex County
129 Morris Turnpike
Newton, NJ 07860
Agriculture and Resource Management
Phone: (973) 948-3040
Fax: (973) 948-5582
Website: http://sussex.rce.rutgers.edu/




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