Your Guide To Organic Lawn Care

The Essential Organic Lawn Care Guide

Lawns are evil.

Ok, perhaps that is a harsh generalization. I like a picnic on soft blades of grass as much as the next person. At the same time, I don’t like wasteful practices that are harmful to the earth. Create a completely kid-safe organic lawn with this guide

I would much prefer if everyone would replace their water-guzzling lawn with drought-tolerant gardens, native plants to attract pollinators, or zero-mile vegetable gardens. I would prefer to replace MY lawn with pavers and ground covers, but I don’t have the only vote in the house.


We maintain a small patch of grass for kids and pets to play on in the back garden. It is a lovely, green, organic, natural lawn that requires almost no maintenance. If you too must have grass, then here is how I care for my lawn without pesticides, herbicides, store-bought fertilizer, or water-waste.

The Essential Guide to Organic Lawn Care

This essential guide will show you how to create and maintain an organic lawn that is safe for people, pets, and all the other creatures who share the space.

Prepare the Soil

Rake the lawn to remove any debris. Remove any weeds without too much digging. Opening up the soil allows dormant weed seeds to awaken and germinate, creating even more weeds! Keep the weeding to a minimum and it will reduce the overall number of weeds you have to dig up in the future.

Grass likes alkaline soil, so if you have acidic soil, you can spread some lime to help raise the pH. The best way to determine your soil pH is to use a pH kit.


Lawns are made up of different kinds of grasses:

  • Rye grass is used as a base in lawn mixes. It’s cold-tolerant and rebounds well under heavy traffic. It grows in clumps so it’s best used in a mix where other grasses can fill in around it.
  • Bluegrass is a nice green grass that fills in patches well.
  • Tall fescue is an easily established grass that is heat-tolerant.
  • Fine fescues are shade tolerant and slow growing.

Choose lawn seed that is a mix of these grasses for the best results. A shady lawn blend will work in both sun and shade, so it is a good choice if you have a lawn that has mixed lighting.

Spread seed evenly over the entire lawn, and add some extra in bare patches. Cover seed with a thin layer of turf soil, a mix of compost and sand to ensure good drainage.

For new lawns, seed 3 times in the spring, for instance: March, April, and May. To fill in the lawn, seed 2 times in the spring.

Mowing and Fertilizing

Keep lawn at 2”-3” long to promote vigorous growth and prevent weeds. Fertilize your lawn naturally by leaving grass clippings on the lawn after mowing. They are rich in nitrogen and provide free fertilizer perfect for turf. Let the grass grow a bit longer and go to seed before you cut it, and you have now also seeded your lawn in the process!


If you go without watering your lawn for a whole year, you will quickly learn if lawn is the right choice for your area. If the lawn can’t survive without a lot of added water throughout the season, then think about changing it to ground covers, native species, or even edible gardens (more on this is described at the end of this article).

If you must water your lawn, limit it to 1” of water once a week to promote deep roots that will require less water and maintenance. Measure water by placing a cup or a jar on the lawn and label the cup 1” from the bottom as the fill line.

It is completely natural and healthy for grass to turn brown in the heat of summer. Grasses do not like heat and will go dormant in very hot weather to protect the plants. The best way to deal with this is to accept that lawns will brown in the summer, and turn green again when the temperature cools. Save water and allow the plants to thrive by supporting their natural cycle, not preventing it.


If the soil is compacted and needs loosening, you can pierce the sod with a pitch fork in the fall, then spread turf soil and rake to fill it in. This doesn’t need to be done every year. Every 3-4 years or as needed is sufficient. Keep in mind that any aeration also invites dormant weed seeds to become active again, so aeration should only be used when soil is clearly too compacted to thrive.Create a completely pet-safe organic lawn with this guide

With these steps, I maintain a small and lush patch of grass in my yard. It is surrounded by flowering and edible gardens and one day it may be removed forever. For now though, I have a lovely organic lawn.

If your grass can’t easily be managed in your yard using these tips, then it might be time to consider replacing your lawn. Look for alternative ground covers such as moss, Blue Star Creeper (Isotoma fluviatillis), Kidney Weed (Dichondra micrantha), Bugleflower (Ajuga reptans), white clover (Trifolium repens), periwinkle (Vinca minor), and Elfin Thyme (Thymus serpyllum).  Many seed companies also create an eco-lawn alternative full of hardy plant mixes that are perfect for lawn replacement as they require less mowing and water, and can survive foot traffic.

Or why not turn your lawn into garden? Here are some tips on converting lawn into garden beds without waste.turn energy wasting lawn into nurishing food gardens

Oh, and if you are looking for a way to prevent dogs from destroying the grass by doing their ‘business,’ then check out this article on building a flushable dog run.

About the Author : Stephanie RoseAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Katie Anderson
    Katie AndersonMarch 14,16

    I think it can be really difficult to maintain your yard, especially in the winter months. My husband has tried everything to get our yard to be lush and green but nothing has seemed to work. I think the best option is getting a landscaping service to come and take care of everything so that we can be sure it will be in good hands.

  2. Judy
    JudyMarch 13,17

    Great article. I own a lawn care service and I use chemicals to treat my clients yards. Several have asked about going organic. Not sure of the expense. Can you let me know what the cost would be?

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseMarch 13,17

      I think that if you are using less chemicals you would be saving that expense. What other costs did you have in mind?

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