A Healthy Spring Lawn Starts in the Fall

Healthy soil is a fundamental building block of a healthy lawn. Unfortunately, in many areas of Cuyahoga County our soil is in distress. The vicious cycle of over-fertilization, pesticide and herbicide application, and removing grass clippings and leaves from the lawnscape has severely depleted the soils in many established neighborhoods, rendering them essentially lifeless. Meanwhile, in newer housing developments, the soil is scraped away during the grading process, leaving homeowners to establish lawns and gardens in subsoil.

Now, soil cannot be rehabilitated overnight, but there are simple practices that you can start this fall to begin to restore the health of your soil:

  • Mulch leaves with a lawn mower instead of raking them up or blowing them to the curb. Leaves provide nutrients and much-need organic material for your soil. Even if you have more leaves than your mower can handle, leave a layer on the ground when you rake that you can mulch when you mow.
  • Amend the lawn with a natural compost. Most Cuyahoga County lawn soils lack sufficient organic matter, which provides both macro- and micronutrients, holds moisture, and promotes healthy root development and stormwater infiltration.
  • Fall is one of the best times to test your soil. Make sure to include soil organic matter in your test parameters. A popular soil testing lab is the University of Massachusetts Soil & Plant Nutrient Testing Lab.

The first 5 people to email the author at jbartley@cuyahogaswcd.org and include something you learned from this blog post or a recommendation from this article that you plan to implement this fall will receive a free pre-paid soil test kit for the Universtiy of Massachusetts Lab!

Blog Author: Jared Bartley, Rocky River Watershed Coordinator

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