Tea Applications on Lawn Care: The Boston Tour
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.
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.