As a state, Connecticut promotes using only organic fertilizers and pest controls. Managing a lawn without relying on pesticides can be achieved using Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM helps maintain an attractive lawn while minimizing pesticide and fertilizer use. IPM does not exclude pesticide use but can reduce or, in some cases, eliminate it.
Homeowners, however, should have a realistic approach to maintaining a lawn without using pesticides. There may be more weeds, an occasional brown spot or other imperfections. These types of problems can be reduced through the use of proper cultural practices. A properly maintained lawn will be vigorous and more tolerant of lawn pests in general.
The four major cool-season grasses for home lawns in Connecticut include:
Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass require high maintenance such as regular fertilizing and adequate water. Fine fescue are a group of fescue including chewings, creeping red and hard fescue. Fine leaf fescue perform well under low maintenance situations and should be considered for use when looking for a low maintenance lawn grass. Tall fescue is another lower maintenance grass but does not perform as well as the fine fescue under very low maintenance.
Promoting healthy growth and avoiding conditions that cause stress to your turfgrass is the best way to prevent a severe disease outbreak. Stressed lawns are an open invitation for a lawn disease to gain a foothold. Optimal maintenance practices are the best way of avoiding stressed turfgrass.
Even if a pathogen is present in the soil, infection will not occur unless the environmental conditions are conducive to disease development. Once turf diseases have become active, they can cause heavy damage if not treated properly. Here is a list of common diseases to Connecticut lawns:
Professional Organizations: New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation
Take a soil test to determine the pH level of your soil. For optimum results in your organic program, your soil needs to have a balanced pH level between 6.5 and 7. A soil test will tell you this level and you can take necessary steps to achieve this balance. Usually adding ground limestone is the most common method of reducing the acid levels found in the soil. With balanced pH levels, microbes and earthworms will feel more at home and their activity will greatly improve your soil's health and structure.
Grass-cycling is a proven way of introducing additional organic matter to your soil. Instead of hauling away grass clippings, leaving them to decay naturally increases soil fertility by as much as 30%.
Aerate your lawn regularly either in the spring or fall. Aeration increases both air and water circulation, but also improves microbe development.
Mow at the highest recommended height for your particular grass species. Not only does the higher height decrease weed-seed germination, but also moderates soil temperature and evaporation levels. The higher turfgrass produces more food, and creates deeper, healthier root system.
Use a sharp lawn mower blade, and remove no more than 1/3 of the grass blade at one time.