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How to solve Lawn troubles the Organic Way

Even in a well maintained lawn, serious troubles can arise.  In the dry season, the soil could be low in nitrogen causing rust on the blades. Maybe mounds of soils have developed due to mole action. Whatever the issue, resist the urge to blast away your lawn troubles with fungicides or insecticides. While weeds, insect infestations and diseases  are normal lawn problems, they certainly indicate trouble within the lawns ecosystem. For a healthy lawn, and a safer you-organic solutions are the best approach.

Common lawn problems and how to solve them

Weeds

Some weeds in your organic lawn is a normal occurrence. However a particular weed type overtaking your grass should alarm you. This means that your lawn isn’t competitive enough and you are best advised to investigate the cause in order to tweak your lawn care practices. Oxalis is the number one weed trouble in Kenyan gardens. It has a long stalk with 3-heart shaped leaflets and 5 petaled yellow flowers and thrives in full sun or shade .  Oxalis will invade lawns that are poorly fed, thin and improperly cared for.

The best way to remove oxalis is to weed manually ensuring that the bulbs are uprooted and burnt. Then top dress the lawn with compost to increase fertility. Replant or reseed  bare patches. Prevent growth of oxalis by leaving the grass clippings  on the grass  and applying a slow-release organic fertilizer.

Shabby, worn-out  lawns

Sometimes your lawn appears weak, but you can’t put a finger to it. Check out the depth of thatch- a foam-like mat of roots and stems on the soil surface. A half inch and below of thatch is  perfect mulch.  A deeper layer prevents nutrients and water from reaching the grass roots. Contrary to popular opinion, thatch is not caused by grass clippings left on the lawn. You are likely to experience mat if you excessively use fertilizer. To tackle thatch give your lawn a good raking. Then strive to prevent its occurrence by  applying a layer of compost  to encourage the burying action of earthworms that will break down and decompose the dead grass stems and root.

Soil Mounds

If you see mounds of soil in your lawn, trouble is brewing underground. As moles tunnel underground in search of worms and grubs, ridges and mound will appear in your lawn. Flatten out the ridges and soil mounds for ease of mowing and to restore root contact with the soil.  Then eliminate the food source and the moles will move on!

Brown Grass

Site conditions, poor maintenance practices, soil compaction, drought and nutrient deficiencies are the primary causes of brown grass. Carry out regular spiking to treat compaction and raise your mowing height to between 4-6 cm. Sometimes however brown grass can be due to white grub  or sodwebworms . The former  causes irregular  dead, brown patches by  chewing  on grass roots while the later  severs  grass blades on new lawns. Fix trouble with white grub through application of parasitic nematodes  and Bacillus thuringiesis (BT) in the lavae stages.

Whitish grass

White grass indicates trouble. It signals the presence of powdery mildew that causes small patches of gray or white patches on the grass. Powdery mildew is more common wet,shady areas and succulent awns resulting from over fertilizing. A solution of nine parts water and one part milk sprayed at the affected area should sort this out. Do not overfertilize your lawn and plant the appropriate grass for partially shaded areas.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are fungi and their presence is a sign of a fungal mat under the soil coming up. If you have mushrooms in your lawn, be prepared for the long haul in fixing the trouble.  You will have to dig up the area with mushrooms to a depth of 2 feet, incorporating well rotted compost in the process.  This will assist in breaking the fungal mat and improve the soil nutrition.  Preventive measures include discouraging the build up of mat, watering deeply once a week for deep root development and using only slow release fertilizer to avoid a succulent lawn that is susceptible to infestations

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