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Tea Applications on Lawn Care: The Boston Tour

This area of the Rose Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston has not received any applications of synthetic fertilizers or herbicides — only applications of compost tea provided by Boston Tree Preservation of Woburn, Mass., as a part of ongoing organic lawn trials.

This area of the Rose Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston has not received any applications of synthetic fertilizers or herbicides — only applications of compost tea provided by Boston Tree Preservation of Woburn, Mass., as a part of ongoing organic lawn trials.

Granting a favor to a Maryland non-profit institution that is in the process of converting its property from synthetic chemical landscape management to organic solutions, we spent Monday traveling throughout the Greater Boston region viewing public parks, playing fields and private residences that have been treated with organic lawn care techniques for the past few years.

The primary focus of the organic management, as explained by Peter Wild of Boston Tree Preservation, was on proper soil pH and on enhancing soil biology through the applications of compost tea and compost top dressing.

The town common in Winchester, Mass., receives significant foot traffic each weekend and is clearly mowed too low to optimize the health of the grass. Overall, however, the color and vigor of the grass was fairing well with the compost tea treatments.

The town common in Winchester, Mass., receives significant foot traffic each weekend and is clearly mowed too low to optimize the health of the grass. Overall, however, the color and vigor of the grass was fairing well with the compost tea treatments.

All of the properties we surveyed showed a remarkable grass to weed ratio, meaning they were relatively weed free. That indicates a proper balance of pH and soil biology in most cases — since weeds are messengers sent by Mother Nature to indicate what is happening in the soil below. Lawns like a relatively neutral pH of about 6.5-7 on the scale of 0-14. They also prefer soil that has a high level of bacterial activity so that nitrogen can cycle naturally in the soil.

The only area we saw at the Rose Kennedy Greenway with significant weed pressure was a small spot immediately adjacent to the sidewalk (see below). The weed in question was plantain, which almost always indicates a high level of soil compaction. To remedy this, we would recommend aeration of that area, followed by a top-dressing of compost and overseeding.

Any seeding done this late in the season, whether in the North or South, should be either perennial or annual ryegrass, which will germinate quickly.

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About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1024
  • http://Organiclandscaperblog.com Javier Gil

    I agree 100% with your post. This year I cut back almost entirely on my fertilizer applications except in some properties that were in terrible shape after being treated chemically for years. Yards that have been organic for the past 2 years were only treated with compost and compost tea and I got remarkable results. Perfect example how organic lawn care can be very affordable.

  • Diane

    Great! I am turning in a research paper today in my Landscape Maintenance class at Naugatuck Valley Community College in CT. Title of my paper is “The Changing Face of Lawn Care in 2010.” We have recently had some good discussions of organic land care in class! I am thrilled to see the young guys who may go on to have lawn maintenance companies discussing organic lawn care. :) !

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