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Organic Lawn Care Case Studies
Organic Lawn Care Service in the Real World
Ethical Disclosure: Potential Conflict of Interest
Although our company offers organic lawn care products and services in Austin, Texas, our primary goal is to share real-world experiences that encourage the adoption of eco-friendly products and methods for turfgrass lawns, sports fields, and landscaping. We are committed to promoting safe, organic lawn care programs that harness nature's ability to help plants recover from various environmental stresses.
In this blog, we will provide complete transparency, sharing every detail and not leaving any stone unturned. All the photos featured are from actual clients, with only house numbers masked for privacy and our company logo added for citation credit. Otherwise, the images remain unedited. Any improvement seen in the photos over the years results from advancements in smartphone technology, rather than manipulation.
Our motivation extends beyond profit; we genuinely care about the well-being of our community and the environment. Many of us have friends or relatives who have suffered from chemical exposure. Our primary aim is to demonstrate that organic turfgrass maintenance is not only achievable but also affordable, paving the way for a healthier and more sustainable future.
Introduction: Setting The Context
Organic turfgrass lawn care has become increasingly important in today's world, as awareness about the impact of conventional turfgrass lawn care practices on the environment and human health continues to grow. This is our continuing groundbreaking case study series on organic turfgrass care, made available publicly worldwide at no cost. Our organic lawn care service initiative revives a pre-World War II practice that has since been overshadowed by modern, less eco-friendly techniques and largely forgotten by modern botanists, horticulturists, microbiologists, and farmers trained after World War 2.
The benefits of organic lawn care extend beyond just maintaining a beautiful, lush green lawn; they also contribute to a more sustainable landscape, a healthier environment, and reduced chemical pollution in our community. By sharing our organic lawn care knowledge in the urban setting, we aim to encourage the adoption of organic methods in turfgrass and sports turfgrass management, protecting biodiversity, supporting beneficial organisms, and reducing pollution.
In addition to environmental benefits, organic lawn care practices promote human health by reducing exposure to harmful chemicals present in synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. As more people recognize the importance of protecting our planet and prioritizing health, organic lawn care practices continue to gain traction and become increasingly relevant in the modern world.
Join us as we delve into our case study series, exploring the practical implementation and real-world results of organic turfgrass care. Discover how this eco-friendly approach can transform not only your lawn but also contribute to a more sustainable and healthier future for everyone.
Concepts: Essential Terms and Definitions
We will be clearly defining essential terms and concepts related to organic turfgrass lawn care to guide you and the greater public. This will help readers like you better understand and appreciate the concepts, methodologies, and practices discussed in the case studies, leading to a more informed and environmentally responsible approach to organic lawn care.
Soil sampling refers to the process of collecting soil samples from different locations and depths in a lawn or landscape. The samples are then combined to create a representative composite sample that can be analyzed for various properties, such as nutrient levels, pH, and organic matter content. Common methods include composite sampling, grid sampling, random sampling, zone sampling (or targeted sampling), and transect sampling.
Composite sampling involves collecting multiple soil samples from different locations within a specific area, such as a field or garden, and combining them to form a single representative sample. Composite sampling is suitable for uniform areas with similar soil properties and management practices. To perform composite sampling:
Grid sampling is used when the soil properties vary significantly across the area of interest. The area is divided into a grid pattern, with each grid cell representing a distinct sampling unit. A composite sample is collected from each grid cell, and the results are used to create soil fertility maps for variable-rate fertilizer applications. To perform grid sampling:
Zone sampling is similar to grid sampling but divides the area into zones based on observable soil properties, topography, or grass or crop performance. Soil samples are collected from each zone and analyzed separately, providing detailed information on the specific soil conditions within each zone. To perform zone sampling:
Transect sampling involves collecting soil samples along a straight line or transect that crosses different soil types or landscape features. This method can be useful for identifying soil variability and changes in soil properties across a field. To perform transect sampling:
Each sampling method has its advantages and is suited for different situations. The choice of method depends on the specific objectives of the soil testing, the area's characteristics, and the desired level of detail in the results.
Soil testing involves analyzing the soil samples to determine the soil's physical, chemical, and biological properties. This information helps in making informed decisions about appropriate lawn care practices, such as fertilization, irrigation, and soil amendments. It is essential for understanding the properties of the soil in lawns, fields, and gardens, which helps determine the appropriate management practices for optimal growth. There are several soil testing techniques, each providing valuable information about different soil aspects:
Chemical analysis measures the soil's nutrient levels, pH, and other factors affecting the availability of nutrients to plants. Common chemical tests include:
Biological analysis evaluates the soil's microbial activity, organic matter content, and overall soil health. Common biological tests include:
Organic Fertilizers and Soil Amendments
Organic fertilizers and Soil Amendments are natural materials derived from plant, animal, or mineral sources that provide essential nutrients to plants, promoting their growth and overall health. They release nutrients gradually, ensuring that plants receive a steady supply of the necessary elements. Organic fertilizers and soil amendments are environmentally friendly and help improve soil structure and fertility to improve its physical, chemical, or biological properties, which help improve soil structure, water-holding capacity, and nutrient availability..
Examples of organic fertilizers and their specific uses include:
Examples of organic soil amendments:
These organic fertilizers and soil amendments can be used individually or in combination, depending on the specific needs of your soil. Using organic fertilizers not only provides essential nutrients immediately bioavailable to your the plants and turfgrass lawns, but also helps build healthier, more fertile soil for a more sustainable and vibrant landscape.
Biological Pest Control
Biological pest control in organic lawn care refers to the use of living organisms, such as beneficial insects, bacteria, or fungi, to manage and control pests in the lawn. This approach, also known as biocontrol, focuses on maintaining a healthy, balanced ecosystem that encourages natural predators and pest control agents to thrive, reducing or even eliminating the need for synthetic pesticides.
Conceptual terms and definitions:
Natural Weed Management
Natural Weed Management refers to the use of eco-friendly, non-chemical methods to control and prevent the growth of weeds in lawns and gardens. It is an essential component of organic lawn care, aiming to create a healthy, sustainable, and balanced ecosystem that discourages weed growth while promoting desirable plants.
Essential concepts and definitions in natural weed management:
Soil health is a crucial aspect of organic lawn care, as it directly impacts plant growth, nutrient availability, and the ability to withstand environmental stresses. The following are essential concepts and definitions related to soil health:
Case Study: St. Augustine Grass Case Study in Southwest Austin.
On the first example above, our client complained the lawn was slowly dying, receding in places, yellowish, brown, spotty, unattractive, and with weeds slowly infiltrating the weakest areas. We conducted soil tests using the zone sampling method, tested the soil pH level, cation exchange capacity (CEC), and performed microbial analysis of the soil. This was performed using a zone test. pH level was highly alkaline, CEC was low, and microbial activity was low. This made us
We inspected and made determinations to the customized approach in order correct the lawn issues in this new home. We noticed discoloration along the side walk and the pathway leading to the backyard gate, a very weak backyard turf, a bare spot in the middle of the front yard, where a plant used to be. Yellowing on localized areas can be a telltale sign of lawn stress. This can be due to compaction, nutrient levels, pH levels, excessive salt, or a combination of one or more factors. We noticed the soil specifically found in North Austin has a majority clay composition. That when moist can be very soft to the lightest amount of pressure. This can make the lawn greatly unfitted for any activity when wet. Unlike its counterparts along Mopac and in South Austin, lawns in North Austin, Round Rock, and Georgetown area need far more care on the side of the homeowner. Neighbors may unknowingly cause damage by simply walking on the lawn, especially immediately after a rain. If we truly want to revive this lawn back to its former glory, further inspection of the lawn's soil composition, macro and micro nutrients, pH level, salt content has to be known.
To further guide us, we inspected the grass blades to look for obvious nutrient deficiencies. Ocular inspection suggested nitrogen deficiency. This was confirmed by a subsequent soil test using the zone sampling method. The zone sampling method separates the lawn into different zones to give the most accurate representation of the soil's current condition on a given area. This is best used when there is a localized issue or inconsistency. Another typically used method is the field sampling, where samples are taken all over the lawn and are then mixed to "average" out the data. Both have their uses in different situations. In this case, we noticed that in areas where the deficiencies are pronounced, thousands of mini live oak spouts have germinated. This is on top of the dozens of crabgrass and broad leaf weeds along the fence of the backyard lawn. The previous provider was close to suggesting a complete re-do of the backyard. However, we felt that this would be a great challenge for us and our lawn program, a system we developed in collaboration with other experts in Agriculture from around the world. Clients are normally surprised to know that we travel to other countries specifically to find best practices and revolutionize the way we handle our lawn in Austin.
Soil pH test confirmed a very strong alkalinity. Alkalinity and acidity levels have a direct effect to the amount of movable and immovable nutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sulphur, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, Boron, Copper and Zinc, among others, that are available and can retained by the soil. Our goal is to hover around the goldiluck's zone of 6.2 to 7.3 pH level range, depending on the type of turf you have. This will give the lawn the best possible balance of nutrients before adding organic matter and other nutrient rich amendments for a sustainable development of the lawn. The common problem we see from homeowners and other lawn care professionals alike is to generously spread commonly available synthetic granular fertilizers at big box stores, eventually burning the lawn, making it turn brown, and killing a lot of microorganisms along the way. For your lawn, the best rule of thumb is to think that slow is fast, and fast is slow because it takes time for nature to nurture.
The approach we took for this specific lawn was multifaceted. We first had to loosen up the soil through core aeration to let the roots breath and easily absorb more nutrients. This have been covered extensively on previous blog posts. We then had to remove the strongest of the infesting weeds and live oak spouts. Afterwards, we applied the right amount of top dressing to aid in repairing the lawn. This also adds more organic materials back to the soil. Organic amendments and natural conditioners to adjust the pH level to lessen salt levels were applied. The trick is to make sure we are adding the proper amount organic matter using the results from the soil test, add the proper amount of water, and then mow much more frequently a few weeks later. Even when the lawn has not grown much, mowing more often encourages the lawn to use all the nutrients available to regrow and repair. This calls for a weekly lawn mowing as it is really impossible to successfully recover the lawn under any other service intervals. There has to be constant monitoring to check the reaction of the lawn to make the necessary adjustments as needed. It was a slow but highly effective scientific process that has proved itself to be very successful time and again. There is little arguing with the results. At Week 7, the lawn has recovered, and the more time passes by, the better the lawn will look as the organic amendments break down to its natural cycle.
Week 7 and Week 20
Works on Problem Areas
On this second example, another client had a couple of problem areas. A big name full service provider was unsuccessful in installing new sods a year earlier. The sods did not take, the client told us. It was a very tough challenge at the time because we were unsure what went wrong with the previous provider's project. We analyzed the problem and recommended a round of new sods to be installedto expedite the recovery process and remove time from the equation. Naturally, the client was concerned and a bit hesitant because they had already been burned before. In this case, we guaranteed the new sods would "take" and be alive over a period of 30 days. As seen in the photos, the maintenance program was used to full effect. At day 60, the sods are propagating quite well. The new sods "take" and the project was successful. At day 90, the owner had let the dogs out in the backyard. This was a concern. We were not aware the dogs would be let in the backyard. Notice small dotted yellow patches on isolated areas have appeared. This is where the dogs would normally pee. Because dogs are carnivorous, their pee have large amounts of Nitrogen, which burns the lawn. This situation is exacerbated with larger breeds. In this situation, that is exactly the case. This is the reason why it is very important to wash away the dog pee to dilute nitrogen levels and lessen burn marks. This is very similar to having synthetic fertilizers poured over one spot. The best practice is to get the dog trained to pee and poop on one specific spot in the backyard. This way, proper planning can be done to accommodate the pet.
Works at Anytime of the Year
The same program was performed extensively on a recent project we had in South Austin. In this case, two previous reseeding applications from other providers failed to revive this football field. 50K Professional Lawn Services LLC was eventually contracted to help revive the football field below. Our expertise in lawn care accurately assessed the situation and performed the proper corrections. We even had an independent laboratory confirm our results. Our maintenance program was used to help our community regain a fresh new football field to use. Our clients, partners, and the community were pleased with the results.
We are fully aware that you may find contradicting information on other websites. In the lawn care industry, there are a lot of misinformation from special interest groups and companies that benefit from selling ethically questionable products. No matter how harmful they are to our waterways, sewers, lakes, and overall environment. Our company mindset has always been to think of organic, natural, and creative ways to solve lawn and landscape problems. It is simply the right thing to do because there is no other substitute for our environment.
Should you need help or have any questions that you'd like us to answer, please don't hesitate to contact us .
50K Professional Lawn Services LLC. 844-505-5296. Austin, Texas.
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