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!

Hand holding seeds over lawn to begin overseeding lawn treatment.

What Is Overseeding & Does it Work?

Is your lawn looking a little patchy, brown, or otherwise lackluster? It’s likely suffering from drought, disease, or insect damage. It could also be that some grass species don’t overwinter well, or are of older varieties. 

One solution that may help bring your lawn back to life is overseeding.

Continuing to thicken and diversify your grass stand is an important cultural method. If you haven’t overseeded your lawn in a while, it could naturally be thin and bare because of not doing so. In the same way, when you kill weeds but don’t replace the space with new grass, you’re omitting a large part of the process that helps develop a healthy, thick lawn that can naturally crowd out weeds.

What Is Overseeding?

Overseeding is adding new grass seed over your already existing turf—without turning the soil. By overseeding a lawn, you can thicken grass density, introduce enhanced varieties of grass to your lawn’s microclimate, and improve color to an ideal lush green. 

In addition, different grasses help “hedge your bets” against insect, weeds, and disease pressures. Some grasses, for example, are more resistant to certain diseases, so diversifying your stand helps you protect against the unforeseen.  Diversity also helps sun-loving grasses thrive in the sun, while shade-loving grasses will stick to the shady spots

Overseeding is typically performed after core aeration, a process that helps improve good seed-to-soil contact and allows water and nutrients to more quickly, and efficiently, penetrate the soil—all of which can greatly improve the overall quality of your lawn.

When Is the Best Time to Overseed a Lawn?

The answer to that question depends on where you live and what type of grass you are sowing. Here in Minnesota, we recommend overseeding in late summer to early October—when the weather is moderate enough to provide the perfect germination balance of warm soil and cooler air temperature. 

Fall seeding is better than spring because spring seeding has high weed competition, and the immature grass roots will struggle with the stresses of summer (i.e., their root structure is weak and immature and you will have to baby it along in a hot/dry summer).  

Immature grass can overwinter much better than oversummer. Sowing in the fall season allows for the grass to start growing. Then, you’ll want to continue maturing next spring to be fully prepared for summer stress. 

Note: Species like tall fescue should be sown in late summer, while fine fescue blends can do well when planted in early October. 

Aeration and overseeding should be done annually, always as a good cultural method. It’s especially important to aerate and oversee new sod installations for at least 6-years. This ensures the sod soil and existing soil mix well, and it also helps diversify the sod grass.  

Most sod is 100% Kentucky bluegrass, which is 100% one cultivar. Diversifying that stands to better protect against insects, disease ,and weeds.

How To Overseed a Lawn

STEP 1: PREP THE GRASS

• Cut the lawn as normal. 

• Any clipping or debris can be recycled, as they will provide free nutrients to the germinating seed.

STEP 2: AERATE

• Using an aerator tool (or landscape service), pull up plugs of soil to create small holes across the lawn. This creates new “pores” in the soil, in which seeds can settle to germinate.

STEP 3: SEED

• Select the correct seed for your lawn conditions and region, and follow the package directions.

• Use a seed spreader to evenly and efficiently distribute.

STEP 4: WATER & MAINTAIN

  • Keeping the seeded area moist continually for the first 1-2 weeks is the key to new seeding success. It is necessary to water often enough that the soil does not dry out and not so much that puddles form (usually 10-15 minutes of watering per area). 
  • On average, water 2 times daily, between 6-9 am and 2-6pm. On hot, sunny days you may have to water 3 times a day. 
    • If the soil dries out, the seed will dry out and die because its short roots do not reach deeply yet. 
  • After 2 weeks, reduce the frequency of watering 1-2 times per week, once per day for 30-60 minutes of watering per area.
  • Within 2-4 weeks, you will notice new grass growing. New growth takes 12-18 months to mature into a dense lawn.
  • Begin mowing new areas when they reach 4”in height. 
    • Mow with a sharp blade at a setting of 3”. 
    • Mow often enough so that the clippings do not form a blanket and smother the new grass. For the same reason, please do not allow fallen leaves or pine needles to cover the lawn.

Note: Watering your lawn is a time-consuming commitment, so please be sure you will be able to maintain the watering needs of your new seeding. And while watering may be the single most important factor that will determine the success or failure of your seeding, lawn care including fertilization, weed control, and related services are essential to a healthy, green lawn.

5 Benefits of Overseeding a Lawn

  1. Improves grass thickness, color, and overall appearance
  2. Repels disease,insects, and weeds
  3. Increase optimal root growth 
  4. Reduces erosion
  5. No chemicals or pesticides necessary!

Think Your Lawn May Benefit from Overseeding?

To learn more about aeration and seeding services, or other organic lawn solutions, reach out to our lawn experts at Organic Lawns by LUNSETH today! 

Contact us, so we can assess your lawn’s needs and get you a fast quote!

Green grass in yard; liming your lawn.

Is Lime Good for the Soil?

Next to fertilizer, the second, most commonly-used lawn treatment is liming. Essentially a soil supplement, lime is a solution made from ground limestone that is often touted as a beneficial way to balance your soil’s pH. However, soil pH shouldn’t be viewed as the ultimate indicator for soil health, and if applied incorrectly, liming your lawn may actually do more harm than good. 

What Is a Soil’s pH? 

You might remember from chemistry class that pH stands for the measurement of how acidic, or alkaline, a solution is—based on how much hydrogen is present. 

A pH balance of 6.0-6.5, for example, is more desirable for soil. If too acidic, its levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium might be off balanced, meaning your soil won’t be able to absorb the added NPK nutrients from fertilizer. 

When this occurs, you may consider liming your lawn. Please note that the typical pH of Minnesota home lawns is between 6.8-7.3. Anything above 7 will not improve with liming. In fact, it could raise the pH above grass-growing levels. Therefore, it’s essential that you first conduct a soil test.

What Does Liming Do? 

The two main compounds in lime consist of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, which help neutralize acidity. 

  • Calcium helps plants build cell walls, extend primary roots, and transport nutrients
  • Magnesium is an essential part of chlorophyll, thus helping plants generate photosynthesis and retain their vibrant green color. 

Combined with fertilizer, liming should essentially work magic on your lawn, right? Unfortunately, finding the perfect balance can be a bit tricky. 

What If There is Too Much Lime in Soil?

As organic gardening author Phil Nauta phrases it, “pH is the result of the elements in our soil, not the cause.” A pH test will only reveal a potential imbalance, rather than which specific mineral deficiencies your soil is suffering from. 

Adding too much lime to soil can tip the pH scale even further, exacerbating the problem. Excess calcium can block the soil’s absorption of magnesium, or cause iron deficiency, leaving grass looking yellow and bleach-spotted. Excess magnesium can cause compaction. 

Although soil pH levels vary across Minnesota, our drier climate means there isn’t much fluctuation throughout the year. We don’t get heavy rainfall, which can wash nutrients away, and half the year the ground is frozen. 

Liming simply isn’t necessary in this part of the country. 

Remedies for too much lime in soil include sulfur solutions or fertilizers with ammonia or urea to neutralize the alkalinity, but these short-term fixes only add chemicals to your lawn. And this can bring you right back to your initial dilemma. We always recommend an organic approach like compost, mulch, or sphagnum peat moss to counteract any liming gone awry.

Need an Organic Lawn Care? 

The best first step to addressing your lawn’s needs is to get a soil test. You can purchase a soil test kit from a gardening center or send a sample to the U of MN Soil testing lab. Be sure to check out their website on how to effectively obtain an adequate sample for accurate results—as this will tell you the soil’s pH, but more importantly, which minerals it’s lacking. 

To learn more about soil pH management, contact Organic Lawns by LUNSETH! We can recommend a holistic year-long organic program to keep your lawn lush, green, and thriving.

Tall grass of organic lawn.

Need an Organic Solution to Lawn Grubs?

Most Minnesota homeowners wait patiently for the last frost of the year to plant flowers and spruce up their garden landscapes. And as many of us already know, with the warmer weather and fresh grass popping up everywhere, the chances of finding grubs in your yard is a normal part of the season. 

What Are Grubs?

Lawn grubs, White grubs, Japanese Beetles—you’ve heard the names before and maybe you’ve spotted a few of these c-shape larvae in your yard from time to time. 

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

There are three stages of a grub’s life: 

  1. Eggs
  2. C-shape larvae
  3. Beetle (adult)

Grubs make their home in your soil and feed on the roots of turf grass. When they mature into adults, they move on to plants and foliage. Generally, if you find less than 8 grubs per 1 square foot in your garden or lawn, there’s no real cause for concern. 

Too many grubs (more than 8 per 1 sq ft.) in your yard can develop into an issue. In fact, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture closely monitors the movement of Japanese Beetles, especially if they are found outside of the metropolitan area and southeast region of the state—where they are more likely to occur.

Common Signs of Grubs in Your Lawn

It’s harder to spot grubs at first, as they’re in their second stage of life, meaning they’re hidden beneath the grass’ surface. So, to give you a clearer picture, here are a few telltale signs that you may have a grub issue:

  • Brown patches of lawn
  • Increase in moles, skunks, or racoons (all feed on grubs)
  • Grass lifts up like a loose piece of carpet (remember, they eat roots!)
  • Dry, sponge-like grass

It’s important to remember that when grubs mature into their beetle form, the damage to your lawn is already done. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your lawn healthy and treat it using organic solutions vs. pesticides, as the latter can have a harmful impact on our environment, plantlife, and wildlife species. 

Organic Grub Removal

If you’re already discovering damaged grass areas in your lawn, there are a few recommended methods to help safely remove grubs without the use of harmful pesticides. 

Please note: the following techniques are considered “environmentally dependent,” so be sure to read all directions closely and pick your timing for application carefully.

  1. Nematodes – These microscopic worms are a popular option for soil pest control. Though nematodes may take some time to colonize, once they do, they work quickly to reduce your yard’s grub population.
  1. Milky Spore – This powder-form substance creates a bacteria (i.e., milky disease) in your soil that kills grubs. You might think: why would I put bacteria in my lawn? Don’t worry. Milky spores won’t hurt your yard or surrounding vegetation—as long as you follow directions carefully. 
  • Some gardeners achieve greater success when they combine milky spore with beneficial nematodes. Again, the results will depend on your environment and timing.
  1. Birds – If you already know the benefits of a pollinator-friendly garden then you might also know that pollinators, like birds, eat insects and grubs. Native plants to Minnesota, such as Echinaceas, Agastaches, and Asclepias, are perfect for attracting birds. Don’t forget to install a few bird houses and baths, too, as well as some shrubs for bird nests.
  1. grubGONE!® – A first-of-its-kind, natural, biological control product, grubGone!® allows you to safely treat your lawn for grubs without worrying about it having a negative effect on plant life or pollinators. Using a natural bacterial strain, known as bacillus thuringiensis galleriae (Btg), grubGone!® only targets adult beetles and grubs, making it a much safer, organic alternative to chemical grub control products. 

Need Organic Grub Control?

Keeping your lawn healthy and green is a long-term commitment, but the result is always well worth the time and effort you put into it. 

If you’re looking to improve your lawn naturally or need help removing grubs organically, contact Organic Lawns by LUNSETH today!

We can recommend the best treatment for organic grub control or help you find a year-long organic program to keep your lawn healthy, year after year.

To get started, contact us today!

How to Kill Dandelions Naturally

For many homeowners, it feels as though dandelions start to take over your yard almost every spring. One day, you’re enjoying a vibrant green lawn; the next, it’s overrun with those identifiable yellow flowers. 

At this point, it may be tempting to add chemicals to your yard. But don’t worry! With some tips from Organic Lawns by Lunseth, you can learn how to control dandelions naturally.

How Fast Do Dandelions Grow?

On average, dandelion plants appear during the spring. First, you’ll see greens; then, yellow flowers; then the puffy white “helicopters” that spread the seeds. 

Each plant can produce up to 12 flowers throughout the season, and each flower can produce around 175 seeds. That’s over 2,000 seeds each year, and many of which can travel up to five miles. 

And guess what? They’re perennials, too! So, they’re going to return next year – unless you use these natural ways to kill dandelions.

How to Get Rid of Dandelions

To help rid your lawn of dandelion plants, you must remove the entire roots, which can reach between 6 and 18 inches deep. If the root stays in place, it will eventually regrow. That’s why most gardeners default to using harsh chemicals.

But chemicals have their own issues. They don’t prevent germination, so you’ll have to re-spray as new dandelions grow. And each time you do this, you’re adding chemicals to the soil and potentially surrounding water reserves, as well as endangering pets, other animals, and children. That’s why we recommend getting rid of dandelions naturally.

How to Remove Existing Plants Naturally

There are several natural ways to get rid of dandelions, including pouring vinegar on them, but the best way to kill dandelions naturally is to dig up the roots with a spade or a specialized dandelion digger. Then, pour white vinegar into the hole so the acid kills any leftover root.

After you’ve finished this task, don’t toss the weeds into the trash. Dandelion greens are better for you than spinach, with a host of minerals and high amounts of vitamins A and C. This makes them great for salads or for feeding chickens, rabbits, or other pets. They’re also great for composting to help build up the soil’s health.

How To Stop the Seeds

To prevent new plants from forming, stop the flowers from producing seeds. Pop off the blossoms (you can also have your kids do it), or simply mow them off. This won’t kill the plant, but it will prevent more plants from taking over your yard while you’re taking care of existing plants.

Another option is to use corn-gluten meal, which is a pre-emergent, meaning it will stop seeds from germinating. Along with corn-gluten meal, chelated iron is a great way to eradicate dandelions after they emerge. Do this in early spring, but feel free to reapply, as not all seeds germinate at the same time. 

Enrich Your Soil

Weeds thrive in soil that is poor or acidic, so having healthy soil is the best way to prevent dandelions and other weeds. Dandelions also prefer soils that are low in calcium and low in organic matter, so proper soil nutrition and improved organic content will naturally help.

At Organic Lawns by Lunseth, we specialize in creating organically healthy, strong lawns that naturally deter weeds. Request a quote today to get started!

Bee pollinating on flower.

Creating a Bee-Friendly Lawn Part 3: Planning for Planting

In Part 1 of our series, we discussed pollinators’ importance within our ecosystems, and their recent habitat loss due to human activity. Part 2 detailed how the best way to create a bee-friendly lawn is to mix grass, such as fescue, with flowering plants like clover.

In this final post, we’ll be discussing logistics. This covers big-picture planning for your new lawn and what to expect as you transition.

Let’s get started!

Planning & Considerations

Use Your Resources

Programs exist to support homeowners who try pollinator-friendly plantings. Check with your city and county to see what’s offered in your area.

 The University of Minnesota’s Bee Lab offers pollinator information, and our state’s Board of Water and Soil Resources runs Lawns to Legumes, which offers:

  • Potential reimbursement of the cost of planting a bee-friendly lawn.
  • Workshops and webinars on how to create a bee lawn.
  • A Pollinator Toolbox that includes yard signs and press releases to raise awareness (also offered at UMN’s Bee Lab).

 For comprehensive information on planting a bee-friendly lawn in Minnesota, read the BSWR’s Planting for Pollinators and the Bee Lab’s Flowering Bee Lawns Toolkits.

Go Beyond Flowers

Bees also need trees and shrubs, which offer forage resources and places to nest in addition to nectar and pollen. Other places to nest include bare ground, mouse or beetle tunnels, hollow flower stems, logs, tall grasses, or twigs. Leaving part of your yard undisturbed can provide nesting areas; you can also see the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest Plant Guide for trees and shrubs that will attract bees in each season.

 Start Small

If you’re not ready to transform your yard, easily convert small or unused areas to bee-friendly alternatives. Border gardens, saucers with river stones and water, and plantings in easements or slopes are ways to incorporate bee-friendly elements into an otherwise traditional lawn.

Prep Your Yard

There are two methods to create a bee-friendly lawn. The easiest option is to overseed (adding seeds to established lawns). The other way is to completely remove your existing lawn using sod cutters or other methods, then adding seeds to the bare soil. This requires more work up front as well as more raking and watering before the seeds germinate.

 Whichever method you choose, it’s best to do it in late fall when it’s cold enough for the new seeds to stay dormant but warm enough that the ground isn’t frozen. This gives seeds the best chance to germinate in spring.

What to Expect as you Transition

 A New Maintenance Routine

Once your yard is established, transition to bee lawn maintenance. Keep your grass tall – over 3”. To keep bees healthy, avoid using pesticides and insecticides. If you must use them, use products that are low toxicity and use them when bees are least active (early morning) and avoid spraying anything on flowering plants.

For the most part, though, bee lawns take care of themselves. No watering, fertilizer, or chemicals – easy!

 Pushback from Neighbors

Our culture has a history of coveting short, manicured lawns as entertainment space, so societal pressure to keep a traditional lawn can be intense. Yard signs and good communication are key. Remember, manicured lawns may look lovely, but they create a food desert for pollinators. Explaining this may interest your neighbors in creating a bee lawn too!

If you’re ready to create a bee-friendly lawn, Organic Lawns by Lunseth can help. Contact us to get started on your bee lawn today!

Creating a Bee-Friendly Lawn Part 2: Plants for Pollinators

In Part 1 of this series, we covered why pollinators are important and the effects we can expect from their loss of habitat. As we mentioned before, a perfectly manicured lawn may look lovely, but it creates a food desert for pollinators.

 Luckily, there are ways to compromise, so you can still have a beautiful yard that’s also filled with pollinator-friendly turf alternatives. We’ll cover that here.

Get Started with a Grass/Flower Mix

Researchers from the University of Minnesota recommend creating a “flowering lawn,” which includes a mixture of flowering plants and turf grass, rather than a manicured lawn. In addition to being pollinator-friendly turf alternatives, flowering lawns are typically stronger and more resilient to issues like compacted soil, drought, flooding, or low sun or nutrients. Because they can grow where grasses typically wouldn’t, they also cover more ground, which reduces soil erosion and nutrient runoff.

Many plants can be used in flowering lawns, so you’ll want to be sure to find the right mix of grasses and flowers.

In Minnesota, we recommend overseeding your lawn grass with fescue, which has long roots and a slow growth period, both of which make it very easy to maintain. It also has thinner blades than the standard Kentucky bluegrass. And that thinness allows more sunshine through to the ground, allowing your bee-friendly flowers the opportunity to germinate.

You can keep your existing grass by continually overseeding it so that pollinator-friendly plants will grow right alongside your current lawn.

Choose Your Flowers

Once you have your grass chosen, it’s time to figure out which flowers to plant. Native Minnesotan flowers like ground plum, lanceleaf coreopsis, or calico aster tend to grow quickly, but they can be hard to find at nurseries, and they have low germination rates since they’re not domesticated.

Non-native flowers can be perfect for lawns, too, particularly if they’re non-invasive. Some flowers, like dandelions, are immediately seen as a nuisance or a weed, and they may not be good simply for that reason.

Two recommended options are (1) Dutch white clover (in the pea family, and originally from Europe), which is great for bees, thrives in lawns, and is less expensive than the next option; and (2) creeping thyme (in the mint family, and also from Europe), which grows a little more slowly than the clover. The thyme also has an herbal smell, similar to the thyme used in cooking. Both are extremely pollinator-friendly.

At Organic Lawns by Lunseth, we use the following formula: fescues + creeping thyme + dutch white clover + self-heal.

Ready to Get Started?

We’ll cover how to plan for your new lawn and what to expect as you transition in Part 3 of this series. If you have any questions or want to create a pollinator-friendly lawn today, reach out to us today.

We are here and happy to help!

Creating a Bee-Friendly Lawn Part 1: Protecting Our Pollinators

Bee populations continue to be threatened, as more humans take over natural habitats. In fact, honeybee populations have been declining around 30% each year. Creating a “bee lawn”—one that’s good for pollinators—can help bees and other pollinators survive.

This post is one in a series of three articles on bee-friendly lawns that we plan to share with you, and we hope you will pass on to others. In our first article, we’ll answer these important questions to help introduce the discussion:

  • Why do we care about protecting pollinators?
  • What types of bees are we saving?
  • What is happening to bee habitats?

Why Do We Care About Protecting Pollinators?

It’s not uncommon for most people to be afraid of bees. After all, they can sting you and some people are allergic to them. So: why should we  save the bees?

Without bees and other pollinators, we would lose fruit, have fewer vegetables and even lesser plants. Gardeners and farmers alike need pollinators to travel between plants to pollinate them, so they can reproduce and grow fruit. Plus, native habitats need pollinators for shrubs and brush that animals forage in. Simply put, bees are part of our ecosystem and an important indirect part of our food supply.

Even more simply stated: bees are wildlife, just like birds and other animals, and they deserve protection.

What Types of Bees Are We Saving?

Minnesota is home to over 450 native bee species (3,600 in the US), as well as other pollinators like butterflies, moths, beetles, and flies. Even small plantings in your garden can help support populations of all these pollinators.

Minnesota’s state bee, the Rusty Patched Bumblebee, is on the world’s endangered list and is the focus of Lawns to Legumes, a program that supports homeowners creating bee-friendly lawns. However, honeybees are the most important bee for crops because they can be moved into and out of orchards easily, and they’ve been estimated to pollinate 30% to 90% of some crops, with native species doing the rest.

What Is Happening to Bee Habitats?

The biggest factor threatening bees is a loss of natural bee habitats, or more specifically, loss of flowers. Nectar and pollen from flowers provide needed carbohydrates and protein. Not getting these nutrients can weaken bees who are unable to withstand exposure to other threats like disease, other pests (like mites), and pesticides.

Bees are exposed to pesticides when residue sticks to the petals or when chemicals are put into the soil and end up in the nectar and pollen. Some can be relatively safe; others can impair the bee to the point that they can’t find their hive or provide food. Others can outright kill them. And because bees fly from landscape to landscape (sometimes up to a mile), they may be exposed to multiple chemicals, putting them at even greater risk.

What Can We Do?

A perfectly manicured lawn may look lovely, but it creates a food desert for bees. Luckily, there are ways to compromise, so you can still have a beautiful yard that’s good for bees, too. We’ll cover that in our second article coming soon!

If you’re ready to save the bees and create a bee-friendly lawn, Organic Lawns by Lunseth can help. Contact us to learn more! Remember, it’s important that we all do our part. Our future depends on it!


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Two dogs laying on a beautiful lawn.

How to Kill Crabgrass Without Chemicals

Want to get rid of crabgrass? Chemical weed killer can create problems for your lawn, but organic solutions like corn gluten can prevent crabgrass without harmful toxins. Here’s how to get rid of crabgrass naturally.

How to Get Rid of Crabgrass

Crabgrass is an annual plant that dies off each year, but once you have it, it takes a long time to get rid of it. Each crabgrass plant produces up to 150,000 seeds, and those seeds can stay in your yard for up to three years. As such, it’s much easier to prevent crabgrass than to get rid of it.

How to Kill Crabgrass Naturally

If you’re reading this post, it’s likely you’re already dealing with crabgrass, which means prevention is no longer an option. Though a simple solution may be to kill crabgrass with chemicals, we advise against this for several reasons:

  1. Chemicals leave residue, which can be harmful for pets or children.
  2. Topical treatments can run off into water.
  3. The more you use chemicals, the more you need to use chemicals.

More specifically, many chemical weed killers actually won’t kill crabgrass, and those that kill crabgrass seeds may actually kill your lawn, as well. Why? Because crabgrass is a grass, just like the rest of your lawn. If you do use chemicals, you have to be extremely careful when choosing treatment.

Instead, we believe the best solution is a natural approach. Here’s how to get rid of crabgrass without chemicals.

How to Stop the Plant

Once the plant emerges, you may be tempted to just mow your lawn short and hope that kills the plants, but that’s an ineffective strategy, due to how low the crabgrass grows.

Start by pulling out any plants you see and throwing them away, but don’t use them as mulch or in your compost pile, because they’ll find ways to grow there, too. Do this early in the season, before they can produce seeds.

How To Stop the Seeds

Once the plants are producing seeds, you want to prevent those hundreds of thousands of seeds from germinating.

Using corn meal for crabgrass control is a natural way to stop the seeds from growing, but you must ensure you’re applying it in appropriate amounts—approximately 0.9 lbs. of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. and no more than three times a year. Instead of leaving residual chemicals that can run off into your water supply, corn gluten breaks down quickly, and the nitrogen then turns into a natural fertilizer for the rest of your lawn.

How to Prevent Crabgrass

Instead of treating the crabgrass, treat your lawn as a whole. Good lawn practices are key to preventing the crabgrass from returning. Dense grass will shade the ground, preventing crabgrass seeds from germinating, and deeply watered lawns will kill off shallow-rooted weeds.

Crabgrass grows well in adverse conditions, so the best way to prevent it is to have a dense, healthy lawn without any bare patches. At Organic Lawns by Lunseth, we specialize in creating naturally healthy lawns that are strong enough to fend off crabgrass or other weeds.

Contact us today to get started!

Lawn Watering 101

Having issues with your lawn? Does it feel like you’re stepping on a sponge surface or is it hard as a rock? Are you noticing more weeds, fungi, or disease symptoms in your yard?

You might be overwatering your lawn. In this article, we’ll cover frequently asked questions about the when, how, and why of lawn watering, so you can take action and get your lawn back to looking its best!

How Often Should I Water My Lawn?

Rather than asking, “How often should I water my lawn?,” it’s best to ask, “How much water does my lawn need?” Try not to focus on a strict lawn watering schedule—every other day watering restrictions does not mean you should water that often. Instead, look at your soil and how much rainfall you get each week. Next, adjust your lawn watering accordingly.

Lawns typically need at least 1 inch of water per week. In Minnesota, we often get that amount from rainfall, which is why it’s not unusual for homeowners to overwater their lawns. But this can actually cause problems instead of preventing them. You should only water once a week—twice at most—and only if it hasn’t rained—generally during the hot summer months. 

Anticipating rain events is helpful. If we aren’t expecting rain for a week in August, watering deeply and infrequently before the dry spell is wise.

How Long Should I Water My Lawn?

Since the goal is to give your lawn 1 inch of water in one or two bursts, you need to water more each time. Again, how long that is will depend on the quality of your soil (is it more clay or sand?) and whether or not you’ve had rainfall already.

You want to water long enough to allow the water to penetrate six inches into the soil. This is the depth of a healthy grass root system. It also trains your roots to chase the water down and become stronger, healthier and more drought resistant.

If you have an irrigation system, it’s good practice to run it from the “off” position. Run the system manually, as needed, for extended periods of time. Deeply and infrequently is the best way to water your lawn.

 There are a few ways to test how long you should water your lawn:

  • Screwdriver Test: Puncture the ground with a screwdriver that’s at least six inches long. Did it go in easily the entire way? If not, the ground is too dry.
  • Shovel Test: This involves digging out six inches of dirt and checking to see if the soil is moist.
  • Tuna Can Test: Put out an empty tuna can, which is about an inch tall, and make sure it fills up each week between the rain and your watering. This is a quick trick to ensure you’re hitting the 1” mark, but we’d still recommend checking the soil itself periodically to know that the water actually penetrated. A tuna can will help determine how long your irrigation system takes to reach 1″.

As mentioned, it’s good practice to water deeply and infrequently, but you should not water to the point where water is running off of your property. In that case, you might need to water a little less.

When Is the Best Time to Water My Lawn?

Watering your lawn in the morning, generally before 10 a.m. is highly recommended.

This provides two important benefits:

  1. The cooler air means less evaporation right away, giving the water time to penetrate the soil.
  2. The water cools the grass throughout the day, so there’s less stress on the grass during the hottest hours of the day.

Watering at night, particularly past 6 p.m., can actually work against you. Wet grass overnight is a breeding ground for fungus, weeds, insects, and other lawn issues.

Need Help with Your Lawn Care?

If you’re experiencing lawn issues, then changing your watering habits might help solve the problem. A soil test can also help by determining your soil composition, nutritional imbalances and pH level.

At Organic Lawns by Lunseth, we offer water conservation services, including grass species, rain sensors and other irrigation technologies to help promote drought tolerance, improve lawns, and benefit your landscape and surrounding communities.

To learn more about our services, including core aeration, which when performed in the fall or early spring helps oxygen, nutrients and water penetrate deeper into the soil, contact us today!