HOW TO BUILD A LIVING SOIL IN A LAWN

How Do Natural Grass Fertilizers Build the Soil?

What is a Living Soil?

A living soil is an environment rich in humus and full of organic matter that is teaming with millions if not billions of small organisms. Most of them are microscopic like bacteria, amoeba, and protozoa; while others are large, such as earthworms and small insects. A living soils will have a very diverse population of large and small organisms and they live in a very competitive environment where they are constantly eating each other. This eat or get eaten world is the catalyst to nutrient exchange, which creates good soils structure and provides a steady supply of available nutrients for uptake by plants. At the top of the food chain are the earth worms and if a soil has earth worm activity that is a strong indication that the soil is alive and healthy.

Why is a living soil the key to a healthy lawn?

When most people think of the best soil available, they think of an organic compost. Composts are the healthiest soils because they are teaming with billions of different bacteria, protozoa, amoeba, fungi and earthworms. These microbes turn organic matter like grass clippings and tree leaves into nutrient rich soils. These organisms living in the soil, play an important role in maintaining a healthy soil system and healthy plants. As organic materials are decomposed, humus is produced and nutrients become available to grass and trees. A healthy soil will be loamy and dark in color creating an environment that will be loose and full of air that will absorb water more easily.

The soil is the most important aspect of organic lawn care. Organo-Lawn’s approach to natural lawn care is to create an environment that stimulates beneficial microbial activity in the soil. We do this by a combination of proper lawn watering by following the principals of the 1-2-3-2-1 lawn watering technique, proper lawn mowing, and using only the best organic fertilizers.

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The key to a living soil is using the best organic fertilizers and weed controls, proper lawn mowing and proper lawn watering. It is literally that simple.

How does Organo-Lawn's approach to lawn care differ from chemical lawn care companies?

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Organo-Lawn's philosophy is to feed the soil and the soil will take care of the plants.

Most chemical lawn care companies’ philosophy is to feed the grass by applying frequent applications of fast release nitrogen based fertilizers. Initially a lawn that is treated with chemical fertilizers will look healthy and green, As the soil is slowly killed by the high salt chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the lawn will become completely dependent on more chemicals to stay healthy. The grass will turn yellow and necrotic without frequent applications of chemicals and synthetic lawn fertilizers.

After using a chemical lawn care program for as little as one year the lawn will often develop fungus problems like necrotic ring spot. When these lawn fungus symptoms start to show up a chemical lawn care company will recommend an application of a fungicide to control the lawn fungus. The irony is that the lawn fungus is developing because chemicals that are being applied to the lawn are killing the microbes in the soil.

The only way to cure a chemical dependent lawn is to stop the chemical applications and rebuild the soil. It typically will take 1-2 years to rebuild the microbial activity in the soil, depending on how severe the chemicals have damaged the soil.

How to Stimulate Microbial Activity in a Lawn

Why are deep digging grass roots so important to creating a living soil?

It all starts with deep digging grass roots!

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It is a common misconception that roots of plants only uptake water and nutrients; however, they also give sugars. These sugars are what attract the very first form of bacteria to the soil. After the first form of bacteria arrive, the next type of bacteria will come to eat the first type of bacteria. A third type of bacteria will arrive soon after to eat the second type of bacteria. Amoeba, protozoa and beneficial fungi will arrive soon after that to feed on the bacteria and each other. Then, nematodes and other insects will arrive to feed on the protozoa, fungi and amoeba. Finally earthworms will show up to eat everything that is in the soil. If a lawn has a large presence of earthworms then the soil is alive and teeming with microbes.

The first thing that needs to happen to create a living soil is to create an environment promoting deep digging grass roots. The deeper the grass' roots dig the deeper the microbial populations will develop in the soil. The only way to get deep digging roots is to water the lawn deeply and infrequently using the 1-2-3-2-1 lawn watering technique and to mow the grass at 3 inches or taller.

Here is a good video made by our friends at Urban Farm Co in Boulder Colorado that explains why a living soil is so important to a plant.


What Causes a Soil to Die?

A soil without microbial activity means the soil is dead, and dead soils don’t typically develop without human interference. The two things that most people unknowingly do to kill the soil in their lawn are to over water the grass and to fertilize the lawn using chemical fertilizers. Over watering a lawn kills microbial activity in the soil because water replaces air in the soil and without oxygen the microbes cannot breathe and subsequently die. Chemical fertilizers are a concentrated form of salt and are extremely toxic to microbes. If a lawn's soil is dead (no microbial activity), it typically takes 1-3 months to get beneficial microbe populations started and another three months to two years to get the lawn microbes thriving.

5 Common Lawn Care Mistakes That Kill Soils


FAQ - What is a dead soil?

A soil without microbial activity means the soil is dead, Dead soils are uncommon in Mother Nature and don’t happen without some sort of human interference. The two things that most people unknowingly do to kill their soil are to over water the lawn and to fertilize the lawn using synthetic fertilizers.

Over watering a lawn kills microbial activity, because water replaces air in the soil with water and without oxygen the microbes die.

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Why are Chemical Fertilizers Bad for Soils?

Chemical lawn fertilizers are toxic to soils because most synthetic fertilizers are a concentrated form of salt. Salt is extremely toxic to microbial populations. It is strongly recommended to apply plant-based organic fertilizers to lawns instead of chemical fertilizers. If a lawn's soil is dead (no microbial activity), it will typically take 1-3 months to get the beneficial microbe populations started and another three months to two years to get the soil in a lawn to be teaming with microbes.


To schedule organic lawn care services please call our office at (303) 499-2000 Boulder or (970) 225-9425 Fort Collins!

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