‘Organic’ lawn treatments are growing in demand in the British lawn care industry. It seems to be partly fuelled by the public’s changing perception of sustainability and partly by the continued restriction on the use of professional plant protection products. I am increasingly asked about how to create a 100% organic lawn treatment plan, here are my thoughts!
What is ‘organic’?
Organic matter – this is what fertiliser manufacturers usually mean when they say a product is organic. A 100% organic fertiliser is produced by or made from living matter (e.g. animal manure or composted vegetation). These products are generally high in carbon but low in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium when compared to mineral fertilisers.
Organic growing – Mostly associated with food growing but can be applied to lawn care too. This involves growing without the use of artificial chemicals and fertilisers. The rules of this type of growing are very strict and offering a yearly treatment plan following these standards is not viable for every professional lawn care provider. You can find out more about organic growing and view the current standards on the Soil Association’s website.
Most of the time when customers request an organic treatment plan they are not requesting a soil association approved regime. It is important to find out what their desires are and work from there… Do they want to swap to fertilisers made from organic materials? Are they happy with mineral fertilisers but just don’t want any herbicides used? You can develop your own organic treatment plan in response to customer demands without the need to drastically change the way you work.
Is it possible to treat a lawn with 100% organic matter feeds?
Absolutely, manure from vegetarian animals is one of the most natural fertilisers in the world! The trouble is that they tend to be low in nutrients compared to the mineral fertilisers most professional companies are used to using (e.g. 5-2-4 vs Ultimate 22-5-10). Whilst the longevity of organic fertilisers tend to be long, they need to be applied more often throughout the year to make sure the lawn is getting enough nutrition. Without enough of the required nutrients, lawns will struggle to outcompete weeds and moss meaning that chemical treatments may be required anyway.
Customers that opt for organic-only treatments will need to have their expectations managed when it comes to post-treatment effects as organic treatments rarely provide the same initial boost to colour and growth that high-NPK mineral fertilisers do.
The best option for most is simply to incorporate organic matter into their treatment plan, this is easily done with SmartLawn DroughtSafe, our non-scorch summer fertiliser. Droughtsafe contains organic material to help relieve drought stress and is suitable for use in the spring too. DroughtSafe works best when combined with an annual aeration and soil topdressing programme, this will benefit the soil biology greatly.