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!

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!

Dandelions spreading seeds

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!

A bee pollenating a purple flower

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!