Eco-Friendly Lawn Care Tips for Dallas Residents

Having a brilliant green and lush lawn has long been the envy of many homeowners. Consistently achieving a thick verdant carpet has become the epitome of a well-cared-for property. Often times we see our front lawns as the welcome mat to our homes and businesses. A well-kept lawn and landscape signify dedication and attention to detail, traits we value in ourselves as well as others. It helps us put our best foot forward, boosting curb appeal, and giving us a sense of gratification at the well-deserved results of our hard work.

While the desire to have a nice lawn is certainly not a bad thing, it does often come at a high price. Americans spent roughly $29.1 billion on lawn care products and services in 2015 alone. Sod, seed, hydromulch, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides; lawn mowing, weed whacking, leaf blowing, the list of products and tasks needed for quality lawn care goes on and on.

Traditional lawn care can be harmful to the environment

Besides taking a large chunk out of our pocketbooks, traditional lawn care also takes a large toll on the environment. You may have guessed that given how many resources people pour onto their lawns to keep them green, they aren’t actually that “green” in practice. In order to keep lawns green, lots of water is used. Many lawn owners also use harmful pesticides and herbicides on their grass. These toxins can end up in our waterways and in our food. And lawn maintenance releases greenhouse gases, such as with the fuel needed for lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and edging.

So, is it possible to have the best of both worlds? A green healthy lawn that is both economical and environmentally responsible?

The answer is YES!

Speaking specifically for lawn care, putting into place an ‘eco-friendly’ maintenance plan requires little change from traditional methods.

The key components for an eco-friendly lawn have to do with these two things:

Taking steps to build healthy soil biology that will naturally support a green lawn.

‘Building healthy soil biology’ can sound like a task larger than most property owners are willing to take on. Keep in mind these simple steps and you will be well on your way to creating and maintaining healthy soil and plants. No additional science classes required!

  • Spread .5” screened, organic compost on top of turf to add a boost of needed nutrients to your soil. A bacterial-based compost is good for grasses and flower beds as it increases water holding capacity and promotes healthy soil biology. Do this by top dressing .5” once per year in the early spring or late winter.
  • Make sure you mow your turf to the correct height. If you choose a native turf like Habiturf you may not have to mow at all, but if you do choose to cut the grass be sure to spread out mowing every 3 – 5 weeks and keep the grass 4” or taller to avoid ‘scalping’ and placing unnecessary stress on your grass (3” for non native turf species). Remember, the shorter the grass the more likely to turn brown, especially in the heat of a long Dallas summer.
  • Leave your grass clippings behind you after you mow. Grass clippings will decompose and add nitrogen back into the soil when you have healthy soil biology.
  • Be sure to use only organic, granular fertilizers such as Medina’s Growin Green which can be found at most garden centers or home improvement centers throughout Texas. Additionally, spraying on a local ‘compost tea’ gives a quick flush of growth and regreening after the winter dormancy. It also helps break down grass clippings biologically when they are not picked up. Compost Tea helps produce three stages of activity including balanced nutrient supply, structure repair through soil supplementation, and nutrient availability. As an added bonus, it is good for more than your lawn. Flowers, trees, vegetable garden, ornamentals, or pot plants will also benefit from this eco-friendly fertilizer.

Selecting the correct turf type or planting for your specific location and site conditions.

Now that a healthy soil profile has been developed, Dallas residents should look at using a native turf blend such as Habiturf. This blend of three native grasses, developed by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, simulates shortgrass prairies. But don’t let that fact make you think your yard will look wild and unkempt. Habiturf provides all the visual beauty of a uniform lawn with the drought-tolerance and low maintenance of native Texas grasses. Heartiness is achieved through the use of multiple species, but the uniformity of the leaves and color make for a lush, beautiful lawn. Just be sure to plant in the proper location as it does not do well in shady areas. For more information and where to buy check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center or local seed suppliers such as Native American Seed for more native Texas seed and wildflower mix.

Another issue Dallas property owners face is growing turfgrass under our beautiful shade trees. With plentiful hot summer days, the shade of large mature Live Oak is worth its weight in gold. Under these precious trees, however, little to no turf can grow due to the deep shade. This is where using a grass-like plant called ‘sedge’ becomes a game changer. Texas Sedge is a low water use native and works well in shady areas where St. Augustine, Bermuda, and Zoysia grass is difficult to grow. It produces wispy mounds of foliage that can tolerate light foot traffic and can be mowed yearly at a high setting.

Additional steps to maintaining an Eco-Friendly Lawn

  • No need to use a weed whacker! Proper use of steel or recycled plastic edger and stakes creates that clean and neat edge between areas of turf and planting bed.
  • For stubborn weeds use a mixture of white vinegar and orange oil as an organic herbicide.
  • In a large bucket mix 1 gallon 10-20% white vinegar with 2 ounces of orange oil or cleanser containing d-limonene (available at garden centers and some large retailers) and 2 ounces of liquid dishwashing detergent. Stir well to combine.
  • Funnel the weed killer into a plastic spray bottle. Shake it well as you use it, as the orange oil will tend to separate. Drench all surfaces of the weed with the solution during the hottest part of a sunny day. The weed will show signs of distress or die completely within two to four days. Repeat after 2 days and reapply after rain.
  • For year-long protection, give perennial weeds, such as dandelions, a good shot of the mixture in the spring before they have the chance to set seeds. Pick seed heads off and destroy them as they appear throughout the growing season. Don’t add them to your compost heap. Spray perennials with the herbicide in the fall to fully utilize the weed’s life cycle and send the material to the stems and roots to aid in killing the plants.
  • Tightly stored in a glass jar, this weed killing mixture will last indefinitely.

With some thought and planning, a green lawn really can equal a green choice for the environment!

Looking for more lawn care tips? Visit our Dallas lawn care page for more information.

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!