Organic Lawn Care Manual

In this simple organic lawn care manual, let's look first at the basic needs of a lawn, and then at how to meet those needs organically in an economical way.

What a lawn needs

  • Organic matter, a food source for the microbes in the soil
  • Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (calledNPK)
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sulfur
  • Trace minerals

Compost- an organic lawn care solution

Mushroom compost is compost used to grow mushrooms in. After the mushroom harvest, the compost is sold.  Good stuff.

Compost is a great way to meet the nutritional needs of a lawn. If you have the space for composting and a lot of composting materials, or a deep pocket to purchase mushroom compost and composted cow manure, this is a great way to fertilize your lawn.

Just sprinkle the compost over your lawn periodically, then water it in or let the rain carry it down to the soil. The greatest drawback to fertilizing with compost is that it takes about an inch of compost each year. The benefit is a beautiful lawn! If you choose to use compost, you don't need to read any further in this organic lawn care manual.

Organic Lawn Maintenance Program

Grass clippings

A mulching lawn mower blade draws grass clippings above the blade to allow the blade to chop them up a bit before they exit the mower

I use a mulching blade on my lawnmower to recycle my grass clippings. Grass is a great source of nutrients. It contains about 4 percent nitrogen, 1 percent phosphorus and 2 percent potassium. It also provides organic matter needed by the soil. Grass clippings break down easily, and help to break down thatch buildup in the lawn. This organic lawn care manual values returning grass clippings to the soil.

I cut my grass a bit high. This provides shade for the ground to help keep the soil from drying out, and helps to shade out potential weeds. For cool season grasses like Fescue, a good blade height is around 3”. For warm season grasses like Bermuda, around 2” is good.

I try to mow frequently enough so that I don’t trim more than an inch of grass at a time. It's good to sharpen the lawnmower blade about once a month to keep from thrashing the grass instead of cutting it.

Cutting grass at the above lengths is healthier for the grass, and helps the clippings to fall down to the soil, where they will decompose. When grass clippings clump on top of the grass, most of the nutrients are wasted, since carbon and nitrogen are released into the air instead of returning to the soil.

Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium

When you don’t water your lawn a lot (watering washes away nutrients) and you use a mulching blade on your mower, your lawn only needs about 100 additional pounds of nitrogen a year, applied in the fall, plus about 65 additional pounds of potassium and about 40 pounds of phosphorus.

Doing a soil test will give you a more accurate picture of just how much you need. Click here for a list of organic fertilizers that provide needed nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.


No organic lawn care manual is complete without mentioning calcium. It is the single most important mineral needed for plant and soil nutrition. When calcium is flowing in your soil, everything is flowing. It is important to choose the right Calcium.

Crush your egg shells, then put them in a blender and pulverize them

If your soil pH is low (as found in the Southeast USA), then use Calcium Carbonate. Good sources are:

  • Egg shells (dry, then pulverize in a blender)
  • Oyster shell powder
  • Limestone (also known as “lime”).

Hard clay soils are generally that way because of too much magnesium. If your soil is low in pH and is clay, you will want to request High Cal. Lime, as it is lower in magnesium, and will help to loosen up the soil.

If your soil pH is high (as found in the Midwest), use calcium sulfate, also known as Gypsum. Calcium Carbonate and Calcium Sulfate are both natural products. A typical application of calcium is one or two 50 lb. bags per 1,000 sq. ft. once or twice a year. It’s a good idea to do a soil test to guide you in how much to apply.

Other minerals needed by lawns

8 ounce bottle of Ocean Trace, a concentrated ocean mineral product

A good all-in-one source of magnesium, sulfur and trace minerals is concentrated ocean minerals. It contains a broad spectrum of trace minerals, including but not limited to, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, molybdenum, boron, and chlorine.

Applying a gallon per acre on the lawn each year goes a long way to producing a beautiful, well fed lawn. An 8 ounce bottle is enough for 2,500 square feet of lawn.

For a simple, economical organic lawn management program, click here. Are you interested in gardening? Please check out my home page, Healthy Vegetable Gardening.

(Return from Organic Lawn Care Manual to Organic Vegetable Garden)

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