Organic Lawn Care Case Studies on Home Turf

Joseph R. Heckman


The consistent growth in certified organic farming and demand for organic foods has fostered a companion movement towards employing organic growing methods for land care. With the objective of evaluating the agronomic potential for organic land care, I conducted a case study on my property in Monroe, NJ following land disturbance from construction. After the site was remediated with deep tillage to alleviate compaction and amended with compost and limestone based on soil tests it was seeded in September 2009 with a mix of modern turf type Kentucky bluegrass cultivars. Once established, this lawn was attractive, competitive against most weeds, and performed well over the following six years under organic management. This lawn was mowed frequently with the clippings always returned so as to recycle nutrients in place. It remained attractive without fertilizer input. In 2014, another organic lawn study was established at my farm in Ringoes, NJ to evaluate several organic fertilizers. Observations from this second case study indicated that soil test P was a key factor for turf establishment. Experience with the organic lawn in Ringoes, when contrasted to the results in Monroe, suggested that rapid germination and establishment of a dense turf stand is very important to preventing weeds during establishment.

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