Thermometer placed in heat stressed lawn.

Caring for a Heat-Stressed Lawn

When temperatures get too hot to stay outdoors, most of us find shade underneath a nearby tree or go inside our homes to cool off for a bit. Our lawns, however, don’t have this luxury.

Instead, they remain under the intense heat of the sun. And when they experience prolonged periods of high temperatures with little-to-no rainfall, the conditions start to take a toll on their well-being. 

Signs of a Heat Stressed Lawn

A common symptom of heat stress in lawns is discoloration. Depending on the severity of your surrounding weather forecast, you may notice a change of color on the tips or the entire blades of your grass. Colors can range from a light straw color or brown shade. 

Other common signs of heat stress include:

  • Soil compaction
  • Footprints or markings left behind
  • Grass blades beginning to curl

Is Heat Stress Permanent or Temporary?

When your lawn becomes stressed from extreme heat, its natural defense mechanism is to become dormant. When this happens, its root system will shrink underneath the soil to reduce the amount of water it needs. This process also allows it to conserve its energy, so it has a better chance of making a full recovery, once the high temperatures decrease and go back to normal. 

However, it’s essential that you continue to care for your lawn, even during a dry spell to avoid any potential damage that can become permanent and result in you needing to replace your turf.

How to Care for Your Heat-Stressed Lawn

Your natural instinct may be to water your lawn regularly. But this can actually cause more grass damage. Instead, you’ll want to focus on two essential steps to support your grass during the dog days of summer:

  1. Water deeply and infrequency
  2. Avoid further soil compaction

Let’s break these down even more. 

Watering Deeply and Infrequently

When your grass is heat-stressed, you’ll want to ensure the water reaches deep down into its root system. It’s recommended that you only water your lawn 1x per week, saturating it to 1″ depth.

Be sure to water your lawn during the early morning hours vs. afternoon or evening, as evaporation is low.

Why can’t I water more?

The reason you’ll want to avoid overwatering your grass is because you want to encourage its roots to grow deep underneath the soil vs. bringing them up to the surface. Remember, your grass is already using its natural resources to protect itself during unusually hot weather conditions. Therefore, your goal is to provide it with the water it needs (and no more) to stay in its dormant state until these extreme conditions change.

Signs of overwatering include puddles of water left over or run off. 

Avoid further soil compaction

If your lawn is heat stressed, be sure to avoid having people and pets walk over it. You’ll also want to avoid leaving heavy equipment on it, as well. You may also decide to remove any lawn furniture.

When soil becomes compacted, it makes it harder for air to circulate and reach your grass’s root system. Compacted soil can also reduce water filtration and drainage, resulting in you overwatering your lawn. 

Another important lawn care tip you’ll want to practice is knowing when and how often to mow your lawn, especially if it’s showing signs of heat stress. Just be sure not to mow dormant turf. 

To learn more about mowing during hot weather, read our recent blog article!

Still Feeling Stressed about the Heat?

Many of us enjoy the summer months, especially for its sunny days and warmer temperatures. But as a homeowner, it’s important to protect your lawn and provide it with the care it needs to once again return to its lavish color and texture. 

For questions about summer lawn care, contact us for more tips and organic lawn care solutions. Remember to stay connected to our blog for helpful how-to guides and articles to help you tackle common lawn issues both organically and responsibility. 

Man mowing his lawn on a hot day.

Is It Too Hot to Mow the Lawn?

Just last month, Minnesotans found themselves stuck in the middle of a heat wave—with some areas reaching 100° F. Though extreme temperatures are nothing new to those of us living in the Midwest region, it doesn’t make the experience any less stressful.

And that type of stress doesn’t just end with trying to keep our homes cool or our families and pets hydrated. Heat stress can also impact your landscape.

Like you, your grass, shrubs, trees, and plants are all living species. Which means when the heat goes up and the moisture goes down, they become thirsty, too. Also like you, they require a bit of TLC to make it through the dryer spells of the year.

Therefore, in addition to taking extra precautions for you and your family’s health needs during the hotter times of year, be sure you’re paying careful attention to your lawn’s needs, too.

Lawn Care During the Summer

As experts in organic lawn care, we often get asked for tips and best practices on how to maintain a healthy lawn during the dog days of summer. And one question on everyone’s mind is this: should I mow when it’s hot?

Before we can answer this common question, let’s first define what we mean by “hot” temperatures, or more specifically…what temperature is “too hot” to mow grass.

 
When temperatures go beyond 80°F, your cool-season grass may begin to struggle. And when high temperatures last for extended periods of time, it can cause your grass’ growth to slow down and its vibrant green color to fade. In fact, some cool-season grasses will go dormant during the hot summer months until early fall. 

During a heat wave—a period of abnormally hot weather that lasts longer than 2 days—it’s recommended that you do not mow your lawn.

When is it too hot to mow your lawn

You may think that noon is the hottest part of the day, since the sun is at its highest point in the sky. But according to the Almanac, 3 p.m. is actually hotter, as the sun is lower in the sky, allowing its outgoing heat to be much greater. 

You may also think that mowing your lawn in the early morning, when the temperature is cooler, is the best time to mow during the summer. However, that time of day should be reserved for watering your grass, especially during a heat wave or when your grass is heat stressed.

So, what’s the best time of day to mow a lawn in hot weather?

Plan to mow your lawn during the evening hours, after the heat of the day has passed. The temperature should be between 40°F and 80°F.

How to Mow Your Lawn During the Summer

Do you love the look of freshly cut green grass—with those perfectly parallel strips laying across the front of your yard? Most of us do. But it might surprise you to learn that when we enter those long, dry summer days, it’s best to keep your grass high and to change your mowing patterns. Mowing in different directions can help your grass grow straight up and stand tall vs. leaning one way.

Therefore, you’ll need to raise your mower’s blades, so you can allow your grass to stand tall and grow a deeper root system into the soil. This way it can access water and other nutrients. If you’re caring for cool-season grass, mow at a high setting, so your grass is at least 3″-4″ tall. 

Also, be sure your blades are kept clean and sharp to prevent tearing of your grass, which is common during high temperatures. 

How often you decide (or need) to mow your lawn will depend on many factors. For example, mowing every 4-6 days may be sufficient, but if your grass is experiencing heat stress or has become dormant, you won’t need to. The most important thing is to avoid cutting more than ⅓ of the blade off at a time. This is especially important in the heat of the summer.

Want more tips and ideas on how to keep your lawn vibrant and healthy all summer long? Contact our team today to learn about our services. Be sure to stay connected to our blog for more lawn care articles and resources. 

Golden Retriever laying in

Common Types of Lawn Problems

Most of us don’t mind spending the time, energy, or money it takes to achieve a healthy, well-manicured lawn. After all, it’s a labor of love. And seeing your landscape come to life makes all that extra effort worth it.

What most of us “don’t” like, however, is putting in all those long hours only to have to deal with unexpected, but all-too-common, lawn problems that compromise the look and health of our outdoor living space.

5 Grass Problems & Solutions

We understand the struggle. So, in this article, we’ll break down 5 lawn issues that are common among Minnesota homeowners. Right after, we’ll provide a few tips on how to solve these problems organically. 

Heat Stress

We’re certainly no stranger to extreme temperatures during the summer. In fact, 2022 has already demonstrated that we may be in for a long, dry season. When our lawns experience extended periods of high temperatures, sun exposure, and little-to-no rainfall (i.e., moisture), we can start to see discoloration (similar to the color of straw) on the tips, or the entire blades, of our grass.

Additionally, you may notice footsteps left behind on your grass, long after someone has walked over it.

Solution

If your lawn is suffering from heat stress, be sure to avoid having people or pets walk over it. Additionally, don’t leave heavy equipment on it either, as this can compact the soil, making it difficult for air to reach your grass’s root system. 

Be sure to water your grass early in the morning to help avoid high evaporation amid the hot afternoon sun. Watering in the evening can also leave your lawn vulnerable to fungus. 

Be sure to water your grass deeply and infrequently—1x per week and saturate it to 1″ depth. 

Compacted Soil

With the kids out of school, and friends and family coming over for backyard barbecues and other fun outdoor activities, it doesn’t take too long for all that heavy traffic to compact your soil. The result? Your soil won’t receive sufficient air, water, and nutrients to grow properly, leaving it vulnerable to weeds and other lawn issues.

Common symptoms of compacted soil include standing puddles of water, which are a tell-tale sign of drainage issues; heavy soil that is hard to puncture; and discoloration on grass and plants.

Solution

Prevention is the best defense against soil compaction, but if you’re trying to fix soil that has already been compacted, aerating your lawn can help.

At Organic Lawns by LUNSETH, we offer a comprehensive core aeration service that relieves soil from compaction and promotes natural plant and soil health. This service is often combined with seeding to help fill in and thicken your existing lawn and should be performed in the fall. 

To learn more about this service, contact us today!

Weeds

Dandelions, Creeping Charlie, Crabgrass—these are all common types of broadleaf weeds that grow in our home state. Weeds can sprout up anywhere, and as you may have already guessed from the list above, they can result from other lawn issues.

Solution

Common herbicides (i.e., weed killers) you’ll find at the store contain harsh chemicals that will damage your grass and may be harmful if exposed to your skin, family members, or pets. Lucky for you, there are many organic solutions to weed control, including liquid iron and allelopathic grass species, which can be sown into your lawn during the fall.

For a pre-emergent weed control solution, check out our recent article on Corn Gluten Meal for tips and information. And as always, if you have questions about how to organically solve weed growth in your lawn, contact us for help!

Grubs

Lawn grubs are very common in Minnesota, and they tend to prefer the flat, sunny parts of your yard. 

Grubs will often make their home in your soil, feeding on the roots of turf grass. When they mature into adults, they move onto plants and foliage. 

Common signs that you may have grubs feeding on your grass, include:

  • Brown patches of lawn (you’ll notice this during the fall/spring)
  • Increase in moles, skunks, or raccoons
  • Loose pieces of grass that lift off the ground like carpet
  • Dry, sponge-like grass

Solutions

Think you might have a grub problem? Check out our article, where we list 4 effective, organic solutions to grub control for helpful tips and ideas. 

Lawn Disease

Hot temperatures combined with high humidity levels provide the perfect breeding ground for fungus to develop on your lawn. You may notice irregular patches of turf that appear dead and range from several inches to a few feet in diameter. 

Fungus can appear in different shapes, sizes, and textures, depending on the type of disease or fungi you have. 

Solution

It’s important to address the issue early on, before it develops and spreads to other areas of your lawn and plants. Typically, lawn disease can be prevented by regular lawn maintenance and care.

Changing the environment of your landscape, such as increasing and decreasing your lawn watering schedule or waiting for environmental conditions to change, for instance, may also help you prevent disease. 

Compost tea may be another alternative to prevention. According to the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, compost tea has shown some promise in controlling diseases in plants when applied as root drench—helping against some soil-borne diseases.

Regularly watering and mowing your lawn can help control lawn fungus—just be sure your mower blades are sharp. In addition, make sure your lawn is getting enough air circulation and avoid fertilizing when the temperatures are high.

For more tips and ideas on how to prevent fungus from growing in your lawn, contact our team!

Find More Organic Solutions to Lawn Issues

At Organic Lawns by LUNSETH, we offer both professional and experienced lawn care services to keep your grass in optimal condition. 

We’re always here to answer your questions, help you identify any lawn problems, and provide you with the best, most effective solution, so your lawn looks greener and healthier every year.

Contact us with questions or to get started with your own organic treatment program. 

Homeowner holding dandelion in front of green lawn.

Liquid Iron for Lawns

Now that you’re spending more time outdoors cutting and maintaining your lawn, you may be wondering how your neighbor always seems to achieve that vibrant green color year after year. And why is it they never seem to have any dandelions or moss growing in their yard but you do?

The answer might be simply that they’re treating their grass with liquid iron. 

What’s Liquid Iron?

Good question! Liquid iron for lawns is an iron-based weed control that’s bound to a chelating agent, which disguises the iron as an amino acid. As a result, broadleaf weeds—such as clover, dandelions, and plantains—think it’s food. And while stubborn weeds end up absorbing too much of the iron, your grass takes in just the right amount, stopping when it’s had enough.

What happens next? Your weeds will end up dying off while your lawn receives the valuable micronutrients it needs to give you that healthy green color you’re after. 

Is Liquid Iron Good for Lawns?

When applied correctly, liquid iron can work wonders for your grass. In addition to killing off weeds, without the use of harmful chemicals, it helps mitigate iron deficiencies in your grass, resulting in healthier and greener lawns. 

Other Benefits of Chelated Liquid Iron for Lawns

  • Liquid iron is a non-toxic solution to weed and moss control
  • Through the process of iron oxidation, weeds quickly dry up, turn black, shrivel, and die within hours. 
  • Results can be seen within hours of first application

When to Apply Liquid Iron to Lawn

At Organic Lawns by LUNSETH, we recommend applying liquid iron around the time dandelions, and other common weeds, are starting to bloom. You may also be able to apply liquid iron in the fall, when the temperature is cool, and there is ample moisture. 

Homeowners often ask us how often to apply liquid iron to lawns. For best results, you may need to repeat the application in 3 to 4 weeks after the first spray. 

To address weeds, such as creeping charlie, clover, plantains, and thistle, 3-4 applications may be necessary; however, you don’t want to apply this treatment to the same area more than 4 times a year max.

Liquid iron may take up to 1 hour to dry, so remember to keep your kids and pets off the lawn until your grass is completely dry.

Note: Your lawn may experience some discoloration after the first application. However, unlike weeds, your grass will rebound.

How Do I Apply Liquid Iron?

Moderately spray the liquid iron in your turf while being mindful of desirable plants around the area and other non-target objects. 

If you or your plants do come into contact with the spray, be sure to rinse off with water, as it can be a mild skin irritant. 

A few words of caution:

Correct application of liquid iron for grass is key to its success. Therefore, be sure you follow these essential rules before you get started:

  • If grass has become stressed due to hot temperatures or a drought, avoid application.
  • Don’t apply if rainfall is expected within 3 hours of the time of application.
  • Don’t apply if the temperature is expected to exceed 85° F.
  • Always read instructions carefully before straying
  • Call an expert when in doubt!

Need Organic Help with Your Lawn Care?

As a homeowner, you already have enough on your plate. Why not get professional support for your lawn with some help from Organic Lawns by LUNSETH. We offer professional organic lawn care services, including chelated liquid iron applications! 

We’re always here to answer your questions and offer up our best organic solutions. Contact us with questions or concerns at any time. 

Here’s to a beautiful summer and a lusciously green yard ahead!

Woman pulling wagon filled with flowers for planting in lawn.

Spring Lawn Care Checklist

Don’t let the cold temperatures and light dusting of snow fool you! Spring is here, and it’s making itself known amid the lighter evenings, the blooming of flowers, and the early buzzing of bees. 

We hope you’re excited to welcome spring back into your landscape. Of course, this does mean it’s time to start planning your spring lawn care routine. 

In this article, we’ve compiled a quick checklist to help you get started!

Spring Lawn Care in Minnesota

For many landscapers and gardeners in Minnesota, you don’t have to tell us twice that it’s time to get to work! But starting your tasks too early can disrupt the natural life cycle of our region’s grass growth. Something as simple as raking or mowing your lawn too early, for instance, can damage or cause issues for your turfgrass later. 

The University of Minnesota offers a helpful lawn care calendar that details the right time to begin maintenance on your landscape.

Late April and early May are typically the ideal times to begin any type of lawn care or treatment. This is usually the time you’ll see your lawn begin to green, and it also puts us close to the last frost of the year. 

Preparing Lawn for Spring

Before you begin, make sure your lawn and soil are mostly dry. If it still feels damp, you’ll need to wait a bit longer to avoid pulling out any newly emerging grass or pulling up mud, which will leave you with bare spots.

When it’s ready, you can begin lightly raking your lawn, removing any dead grass or leaves left over from the season prior. This practice also helps lift up the grass blades in preparation for the season. 

Remember to Inspect the Area

Just as most homeowners will take the spring season to inspect their roofing systems for any damage caused by the winter, early spring is also ideal for surveying your lawn for signs of the following:

  • Snow mold
  • Salt damage
  • Bare spots
  • Standing water
  • Rodent damage

It’s important to remember that finding these common lawn issues doesn’t necessarily mean a remedy is always needed. For instance, most snow molds will recover on their own while many bare spots fill in much better once the weather warms up from the sun.

Additionally, evidence of rodents doesn’t always mean it’s time to sound the alarm. In fact, some don’t cause any lawn damage at all. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make note of these issues and keep on eye on them throughout the rest of the season to see if they improve on their own.

This is also a good time to inspect your soil’s nutrient deficiencies. You can conduct a soil test to find out its pH, which will come in handy when you’re ready to start applying fertilizer.

Pre-Emergent Herbicides

In another blog, we discussed the benefits of applying Corn Gluten Meal (CGM) to your lawn as an organic solution to weed control. It’s important to remember that you need to begin this process before the germination process begins. 

For Minnesotans, the recommended time for applying CGM is around mid-April to May (before soil temperatures reaches 50 degrees).

For questions about CGM application, contact us for support!

Fertilizer

Around May or early June, you’ll want to begin fertilizing your lawn. Organic fertilizer helps feed and nourish your plants without the use of harmful chemicals. 

Unlike synthetic options that can leach through the soil or run off into our lakes and streams—organic fertilizers are slow-release and contain nutrients in low concentrations, which feed the microbes in your soil which then feed the grass plants. That way nothing goes to waste and nothing is washed away.

For questions about which organic fertilizer is right for your lawn, contact us for help! 

Mowing

If you’re caring for cool-season grass, you’ll want to wait until your grass blades are about 4 inches in height before the first mow. This allows the grass to develop a deeper root system to prevent droughts and standing water.

Be sure to mow high, leaving at least 3-3.5 inches in height during the spring season and higher during hot/dry weather.

Watering

It is often not necessary to water your lawn in April and May because of the cooler nights and moisture present in the soil that is left over from the melting snow. Watering isn’t recommended until you have at least 3 nights in a row where the lowest temperature is above 50 degrees. After that, your lawn should get 1 inch of water per week (combination of rain and watering). 

Best practice: It’s always best to water DEEPLY and INFREQUENTLY throughout the summer (as opposed to daily or every other day). If you notice a heat wave coming in the forecast, water your lawn deeply before it starts to dry out.

Remember, it takes less water to keep a lawn green than it does to bring back a dry lawn

Questions About Spring Lawn Care in Minnesota?

As we welcome the warmer weather, it’s important to be patient with your lawn care routine to ensure you’re giving it time to recover from the winter, as well as the nutrients it needs to thrive.

For questions about caring for your lawn, or if you’re looking for an organic solution, we can help! Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can support your lawn goals this season and next! 

green grass of residential lawn.

Why Use Corn Gluten Meal for Lawns?

Looking for an organic alternative to synthetic chemical herbicides? Meet Corn Gluten Meal (CGM), an effective pre-emergent weed preventer used for controlling crabgrass and other common weeds in your lawn.

Organic Corn Gluten Meal 101

Before we discuss the benefits of applying corn gluten to your lawn, let’s first define what it is and how it works:

CGM is a natural by-product of the corn wet milling process. It contains essential nutrients, such as proteins, to inhibit root growth during seed germination. It is also a natural source of nitrogen (9-0-0) to help keep your lawn green and lush. 

The key to CGM is applying it to your lawn before (not after) the germination process begins and weeds have already taken root. 

Note that as this is an organic lawn solution, it will take some time to continue to prevent the seed from germinating naturally. With each year of application, the percentage of how much it prevents will increase (e.g., 25% the first year, 50% the second year, and 75% the third year).

Each year you use CGM, the better the results. This is why most gardeners notice a significant difference in their lawns after the third year of application. Therefore, patience (and timing) is essential to the success of CGM. 

For more information on how CGM works and helpful tips on how to prep your lawn and successfully apply this pre-emergent herbicide for best results please visit our guide, or contact us.

3 Benefits of Corn Gluten Meal for Lawns

Now that you have some background on this organic solution for weed control, let’s review a few benefits you can expect to see in your landscape.

Natural Weed Control

You probably guessed this one already, but even the most seasoned gardeners struggle with weed growth in their yards. 

CGM stops weeds/seeds before they start. By halting cell division in the roots, which seeds rely on to grow during the germination process, CGM helps you get to the ‘root’ cause of your weed problem. And as we noted, the longer you use CGM on your lawn, the more effective it becomes.

Better for Lawn Care

In addition to ridding your lawn of weed growth, CGM won’t harm the surrounding trees and plant life in the process. Because CGM is a natural solution, you don’t need to worry about it changing your soil’s pH or damaging your grass.

Don’t forget, CGM is high in nitrogen (9%), which means it supplies your soil with the food it needs to thrive.

Non-Toxic = No Worries

Aside from the fact that synthetic chemical herbicides cause damage to our soil, grass, and surrounding vegetation, they are also health hazards to our kids and pets. Because CGM is natural, you don’t need to worry about your family coming into contact with toxic chemicals.

Though CGM isn’t harmful, it’s recommended you try to keep ‘Fido’ away from CGM until you water it for the first time. Though CGM is an ingredient in some pet foods, it can give your pets a tummy ache if they eat too much of it in its raw form. Watering it in will reduce or eliminate your pet’s ability to consume it.

Ready for Organic Weed Control?

CGM might just be what you need! Of course, in order for it to be successful, timing and proper application is essential. That’s where we can help!

At Organic Lawns by Lunseth, we have years of experience in carefully and effectively applying OMRI-certified corn gluten to lawns and achieving impressive results that protect your lawn and the environment. 

If you’d like to get started, or if you have more questions about this organic method, we encourage you to contact us today!

Grass in winter

Caring for Your Grass in Winter

As the Midwest continues to experience heavy snowfall, ice accumulation, and strong winds, most homeowners are choosing to stay tucked away indoors—at least until spring.

Your grass, however, doesn’t have this luxury. And though you may be tempted to put lawn care at the back of your mind until the ground thaws, the truth is there are still certain tasks you’ll want to complete to ensure your grass is protected against snow piles, rock salt, and heavy foot traffic.

What Happens to Grass in Winter

For fellow Minnesotas, your grass becomes dormant in the winter. During this “sleep-like” state, your grass is no longer growing, but instead, is using its energy to conserve water and essential nutrients. 

Even if you live in an area that doesn’t get too much snow during the winter, if outdoor temperatures drop below 40° F, you’ll probably notice that your once green landscape is now brown. This can actually happen during the hot, dry summer months, too. But don’t worry, because most often your grass will return to its green state once weather conditions improve—as long as you take the proper precautions.

Do I Need to Care for My Grass in Winter?

If your lawn is covered in snow fall, it might seem like there’s not a whole lot you can do to give it some TLC. But even during the winter season, our grass still needs care and attention.

Hopefully, you followed our blog post on how to prepare your lawn for winter, and found a few useful tips on treating this area before the first frost of the year. 

Winter Lawn Care Tips

Now that the winter has officially set in, there are a few more tasks you can complete to ensure your lawn is fresh, green and vibrant come spring.

Reduce Lawn Traffic

We know it’s fun to watch the kiddos play in the snow and build tunnels, but if you really want to keep your lawn protected while it’s in its dormant state, try to limit foot traffic on your grass as much as possible.

You could designate an area for the kids to play, or even better, visit your local park or school area to go sledding and play in the snow vs. doing it at home. 

Keep Lawn Clear of Equipment

Hopefully, you already did this, but if you’ve left any lawn furniture or equipment out—even fire logs for a wood-burning stove—make sure you store it safely in the garage or shed. This helps avoid added moisture forming in concentrated areas, which can damage your grass.

Watch Out for Salt

No one wants to deal with an icy driveway or sidewalk. So, applying de-icing products that contain salt might sound like a great idea at first. But if this substance leeches into your yard, it can be harmful to your grass, causing it to dry out or develop drainage issues. 

If you’re using a product to help eliminate black ice from accumulating on your property, make sure you keep these products far away from your turf. This includes shoveling snow from your driveway onto your lawn. 

More often, this snow contains the de-icing mixture, or even debris, which will seep into your grass. 

It’s hard to know where your lawn begins and your driveway ends with all that snow coverage, so we recommend placing clear markers around your yard. This way you can avoid shoveling debris or salt onto it or shoveling up pieces of sod in the process.

Don’t Pile Snow

We know this next tip is a bit of a challenge, but if you can avoid piling snow onto your lawn after shoveling, you’ll help minimize soil compaction. 

Experts recommended spreading the shoveled snow, if you have no other area to put it in, to help reduce compaction and mold formation.

Start Planning for Spring

Maybe the last thing on your mind is spring planting and gardening season, but if you’re like us, you’re probably looking forward to it! So, why wait to get a headstart on your goals for your lawn, once the ground thaws?

It’s Never Too Early To Start Planning for Spring!

Perhaps one of your lawn goals this year is finding a natural solution to its annual care and maintenance. If you need help getting the process started, we can help!

Our team has just the approach to kickstart your organic lawn treatment, so you enjoy the benefits of a naturally fed lawn and knowing that you’re doing your part to improve our environment. 

To learn more, contact us today! The sooner you start planning, the closer you are to enjoying a beautiful, natural landscape. 

Older red lawn mower on grass.

How to Winterize Lawn Equipment

The winter season is officially upon us. If you haven’t already put your lawn mower and gardening tools away, be sure to clean and store them in a cool, dry place to keep them protected and rust-free come springtime. 

Even if you did put your equipment away already, you’ll also want to be sure you stored them properly, as a little bit of moisture—or an unwelcome visit from outdoor rodents—can lead to costly repairs when it’s time to bring them back out for use.

In this article, we’ll break down how to winterize and organize your yard tools, so they’re ready to get back to work after the snow thaws.

Winterizing Lawn Equipment 101

From your lawn mower to your leaf blowers, trimmers, and even gardening shears, it’s important to prepare your equipment for winter, especially in Minnesota, where it’s not uncommon to experience negative temperatures, heavy snowfall accumulation, and high winds.

There are many reasons why it’s important to winterize your lawn equipment, but here are our top three:

  1. Helps extend the lifespan of your yard tools
  2. May prevent issues developing in the spring
  3. Will help you avoid costly repairs/replacements

Just remember to always consult your owner’s manual before getting ready to winterize your equipment, especially with tools like lawn mowers, chainsaws, or trimmers, as you may need to replace spark plugs, sharpen blades, or change oil a certain way to stay under warranty or avoid injury.

Tips on How to Winterize Lawn Mower

When storing a lawn mower, check for any debris or grass accumulation near its undercarriage. These areas need to be cleaned before going into storage. Once thoroughly cleaned, you’ll need to check and repair any damaged parts, tighten loose screws or bolts, and lubricate, where needed. 

Depending on the owner’s manual, you may need to drain and replace its engine oil using a certain brand. Also, if you own a lawn tractor, be sure to remove and charge its battery in a cool, dry area. 

Next, make sure your mower is thoroughly dried before storing and placed indoors, if possible. You’ll also want to cover it with a tarp to avoid dust from entering its engine or mice from making their way to its wiring.

Organizing Yard Tools

It’s fair to say most homeowners will take the extra precautions necessary to protect bigger equipment like a lawn mower during winter. But what about your smaller gardening tools that range from shovels, shears, rakes, etc.?

Though essential items that help us care and maintain a healthy landscape, it’s not unusual for these tools to become neglected during the winter, leading to faster wear and tear and rust.

When it’s time to put away the tools for winter, be sure you’re really “putting them away.” That means never leaving them outside or on the ground, where they are vulnerable to the harsher climate conditions. 

Next, you’ll need to wash your tools before you hang them up for the season. Here are three important tips:

  • Wash any dirt or buildup from your tools thoroughly.
  • Make sure everything is completely dry
  • Apply a protective coating to the surface of your tools to prevent rusting [again, make sure your coating is dry before storing tools away] 

A smart investment might be to install hanging racks in your garage to hold these types of equipment. This not only protects them from moisture from the ground, but it can also help you stay organized all year round.

Organizing your tools, keeping them clean, and protected from outdoor elements is the best way to ensure they last longer and perform at optimal condition.

As always, consult with your owner’s manual and take all the extra precautions necessary to help protect your yard tools!

Woman holding a shovel containing compost materials in outdoor garden area.

Compost vs. Fertilizer

Just as organic fertilizer helps feed and nourish your plants, compost energizes your soil with rich nutrients so that healthy plant growth is possible. 

To put it more simply, composting allows naturally occurring microbes to convert leaves and grass clippings into useful organic soil amendment. This process helps replenish your yard by providing the essential nutrients it needs to thrive.

You’ve probably seen advertisements for in-home compost bins online. But you might be left wondering if composting is something you should do on your own, or if other organic options are available that involve less mess, and most importantly, will ensure that your compost contains quality organic matter vs. bad bacteria that could harm your plants. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of compost, how it works, and why buying dry compost that is locally sourced might be a better alternative for your home’s landscaping needs!

First, let’s review the basics of composting.

Composting 101

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), composting can help suppress plant diseases and pests, as well as reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers. 

Other benefits include:

  • Improves soil health for optimal plant growth
  • Reduces green gas emissions
  • Eliminates food and yard waste
  • Keeps organic materials out of landfills

What Is Considered “Compostable”?

The EPA defines a compost pile as containing three organic materials: browns, greens, and water: “The brown materials provide carbon for your compost, the green materials provide nitrogen, and the water provides moisture to help break down the organic matter.”

For brown matter, you might include

  • Leaves
  • Hay
  • Straw
    Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Cardboard boxes

For green matter, you might include

  • Grass clippings
  • Fruits
  • vegetables 
  • Egg shells
  • Seaweed
  • Tea bags

There are a few items you’ll want to avoid adding to your compost pile, however, as they may contain certain germs and bacteria that you won’t want to add to your landscape. They can also create odors that attract pests. These items include:

  • Pet waste
  • Trimmings that contain chemical pesticides
  • Diseased plants
  • Grease or oil
  • Dairy products
  • Coal
  • Meat or fish bones

Once you have created your compost pile, the EPA recommends that you mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury scraps and food waste under 10 inches of compost material.

Want an Easier Way to Add Compost to Your Lawn?

If the idea of storing organic matter in your backyard doesn’t sound appealing, or you’re worried about the upkeep required, you might be hesitant to begin the process. 

There’s also the concern that when you make your own compost pile, you won’t “cook” it long enough, which means it may still contain bad bacteria that you’ll eventually distribute into your lawn.

Lucky for you, there is an easier, yet still organic solution!

At Organic Lawns by LUNSETH, we offer organic dry compost that is manure-based and locally sourced. Once applied to your lawn, our dry compost can help improve your soil’s organic matter and microorganism populations. 

How It Works

Blending a combination of plant nutrients and organic substances, dry compost is applied to your landscape to help improve its soil quality and discourage weed growth. This, of course, is achieved without maintaining a compost pile in your outdoor living area. 

Compost, in its dry form, also allows for easier transportation and accurate application, all while improving your soil structure. The benefits you can expect will range from greater root development to infiltration, thus resulting in better plant growth and stability. 

To learn more about this option, and how you can find dry compost near you, contact us today!

Before we go, let’s address one more important question that we often get asked from customers.

Is Compost a Fertilizer?

This is a common misconception that is understandable to make. After all, compost does provide your soil with rich nutrients; however, unlike fertilizer, which contains specific ratios of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to aid in nutrient deficiencies and improve faster plant growth, composting works directly with the soil itself to improve its quality, air flow, nutrient distribution, and moisture retention. 

Don’t forget that compost also helps suppress plant disease and fungi, creating a healthy environment for plants to grow and thrive. Therefore, compost does not replace organic fertilizer. Instead, the two processes should work together to create optimal plant growth and vegetation. 

To learn more about composting, or if you’d like to find an organic dry compost solution, reach out to our team today for details. 

Close up of frosted grass in lawn.

How to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

The fall season is finally upon us! That means for many homeowners, it’s time to start preparing your lawn for winter. 

Getting the prep work done now will ensure that your lawn is ready to thrive for the next growing season. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your lawn winter-ready.

Preparing Your Lawn for Winter 101

1. Identify Nutrient Deficiencies

Using a soil test from any garden center, test your soil’s pH levels to help identify any nutrient deficiencies. Heading into the colder months, northern soil typically lacks nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, so you’ll want to choose the right fertilizer to help boost these nutrient levels. 

Late season fertilizer applications help with spring growth and nitrogen can be applied through mid-October.

2. Water As Needed

Grass needs less water as the weather cools down at night. Continue watering your lawn up until the first hard frost of the year. Typically, this occurs at the end of October. Once the winter freeze officially arrives, grass plants will go dormant.

If you are overseeding your lawn this fall, please follow our guide to learn how often your lawn needs water, as well as other important lawn maintenance steps for success come spring!  

3. Mulch Clippings and Leaves

Continue mowing regularly to mulch your leaves, as this provides food for your lawn’s soil microbes. Mulched leaves should not cover your grass completely, however. 

If you have too many leaves, you may need to go over it several times with the lawn mower to create a finer mulch, or you may need to bag and remove some of them to avoid smothering the lawn. Mulched leaves are free organic matter for your soil and are beneficial to a healthy soil.

4. Mow Lower

Here in Minnesota, grass typically stops growing in mid-to-late November, in preparation for the onslaught of frost and snow. Mow often enough to slowly lower your cutting height gradually, so you avoid cutting more than ⅓ of the grass blade. 

For your final mow of the season, lower the blade of your mower to 2.5” to clean up debris, prevent snow mold, deter rodents and prepare the grass for a fresh start come spring. 

5.  Consider Dormant Seeding

Bare areas or thin grass can benefit from dormant seeding. This process helps repair grass in time for next year. Timing is critical, though, so you’ll want to apply seed when the soil is not frozen, but the temperatures are so cold that germination will not start until spring. Depending on your climate, this may occur between late October to mid-November. 

Establishing good seed-to-contact and water maintenance are essential during this seeding process. The University of Minnesota offers a helpful guide on dormant seeding, including how to choose seed and how to prepare your lawn for this treatment.

6.  Consider Broadleaf Weed Control  

The best time to apply broadleaf weed control is in the fall. During this season, weeds are preparing for dormancy, making them become weak and more susceptible to attack.  

You may apply chelated iron up until the air temperatures reach 55 degrees.  Please note that weed control and seeding efforts should be timed correctly to prevent conflict. It is best to apply broadleaf weed control about 1 week before any seeding begins.

Need Help Winterizing Your Lawn? 

If you’re looking for more guidance on how to prepare your lawn for winter, reach out to the experts at Organic Lawns by Lunseth. Naturally, we can help!