How to Grow a Beautiful Lawn Naturally

Ah Spring. The trees, flowers and nature is awakening from their winter sleep, at least in the north they are. The other day I went outside to clean up the dead debris of last season’s plants and leaves. I get excited in planning the placement of our lawn and garden decorations and adding any new flowers and plants to our gardens. As I look upon our home and gardens, a few of our neighbors come outside. They start inspecting their lawns. Oh no… here we go.

There are still the few neighbors that believe in chemically treating their lawns. The lawn care companies that attend to our neighbors’ lawns feel like they have to share their services with the rest of us neighbors.

Several years ago, a well-meaning lawn care specialist offered to do some work for our yard. He suggested spraying the yard with glyphosate to “get rid of all the unsightly dandelions and weeds (like plantain) to grow a beautiful lawn. What???? The dandelions and weeds are treasures from nature! Herbalists know the importance of dandelions and plantain.

This ‘specialist’ didn’t quite understand why I was so adamant that there would never be glyphosate sprayed in our yard under any circumstances. He insisted that “it really is non-toxic and completely safe as soon as it dries.”

I also had to explain to him that we actually like those so-called ‘weeds’ in our yard and that we use them in various ways. Our definition of a “good lawn” was different than his!

In many places, an attractive and “good” lawn means one free of weeds with a lush carpet of uniform green grass. Money is spent to kill the plants that are already growing and then plant or sod with grass. We replace the natural ground coverings like clover, plantain, and dandelion (which are great for pollinators) with flowerless grass for the sake of looks. In many neighborhoods with Home Owners Associations, these are requirements.

The good news is that there are many ways to maintain an attractive lawn without the need for harsh chemicals. Making this switch will improve growth for pollinators and reduce chemical use and exposure. It will also create a safer lawn for children and pets to play on!

 

The Problem With Lawn Chemicals

Many people assume that lawn chemicals are completely harmless, but that isn’t the case. Consider this:

“Our love affair with lawns comes with a cost. Each year U.S. homeowners apply more than 3 million tons of synthetic lawn fertilizers and 70 million pounds of lawn pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals pose serious hazards to our children, our pets and wildlife of all kinds. To make matters worse, it’s estimated that 65 percent of these chemicals find their way into our lakes, rivers and underground aquifers.” ~ Gardeners.com

 

The US Wildlife Federation also reports these environmental effects of our lawn care practices:

  • The average lawn gets up to 10 times as much chemical pesticide and herbicide use as commercial farmland! Gasp… 10 TIMES as much! This means that the grass your children are running on barefoot probably contains more chemicals than commercially sprayed wheat, corn, and soybean crops. (Obviously, this isn’t great for pets either!)
  • When these chemicals are used as much as 90% of the earthworm population in a lawn is killed. This is very detrimental for the soil over time.
  • Lawn equipment like mowers and weedeaters (or weedwackers, depending on where you’re from), emit much more waste into the air than cars and trucks.
  • 25-60% of residential water usage (depending on location) goes to watering lawns. With droughts in many areas, this is a substantial water burden.

 

Natural and Organic Lawn Care Basics

Natural lawn care may be one of the easiest and cheapest switches you can make.

Starting in the spring, use these basic steps to create a more natural lawn:

Improve the Soil

Many beautiful lawns are really just nice looking on the surface. One problem with irrigation is it affects the quality of the root system. Most lawns are used to being fed and watered from above by irrigation and fertilizer. They don’t have a deep root system and so drought or other problems easily affect them.

When it comes to growing anything, including a lawn, it is good to start from the bottom up. Improving soil first will give your grass a foundation for long-term growth. It will also make the grass more hardy and reduce the need for watering and chemicals.

Soil testing helps you know what is needed for your lawn. Free or inexpensive soil testing is available in many county extension offices or local garden shops. Find one in your area to get a soil test.

If you don’t want to soil test, just use a shovel to remove a 6-inch deep section of soil and grass. Healthy soil should be dark and crumble easily and grass should have a strong root system. An accumulation of dead matter at the base of grass (called thatch) also may indicate poor soil quality. In healthy grass, thatch rarely occurs since the active microorganisms in good soil break it down.

Good soil for grass also has a pH that is slightly acidic and just under 7.

 

Steps for Better Lawn Soil

  • First, aerate in the spring if needed to improve soil texture.
  • Then, fertilize once per year with compost. This is called topdressing and is done by adding up to an inch of compost or topsoil and raking into the grass.
  • Finally, add pH adjusters if needed to get the pH in optimal range.

 

Choose Good Grass

Ask a local 4-H office or lawn care expert what grasses are native to the area. Choose one that is hardy and doesn’t need a lot of extra water.

Also consider sun and shade requirements, how much traffic your lawn gets and how much rain your area gets when choosing a grass. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences suggests these as the max times to wait between watering for different types of grass:

12 – 21 days: Bahia grass, Buffalo gass, Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, Centipede grass

8 – 12 days: Carpet grass, Fine fescue, Kikuyu grass, Seashore paspalum, Tall fescue, Zoysia

5 – 7 days: Ryegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Bentgrass

These times are a good measure of a grass that grows well in your area and a helpful metric in selecting a grass.

You may not love to hear this, but growing a single plant (like one type of grass) over a large area is unnatural. This increases the chance of disease and nutrient demand. Add a crop like white clover to grass to improve the nitrogen content of the soil and keep a thick, lush lawn. If you have the ability, converting part of your lawn to a wildflower growth area for local flowers is a great way to improve soil and make pollinators happy.

 

Steps for Choosing Good Grass for a Lawn

  • First, make sure soil is ready.
  • Find out which varieties of grass grow best in your area.
  • Choose a grass that matches your yard conditions (shade/sun, etc.) and that won’t require much watering.
  • Finally, overseed in the fall. Overseeding is spreading 3-4 pounds of grass seed per 1000 feet of lawn. Cut grass to about 2-2.5 inches before seeding for optimal growth.

 

Mow the Right Way

Most of us over-mow our yards. Why all that extra work for no good reason? We think that shorter is better, but it isn’t! It is much better to mow often but not as short. Cutting grass below 2 inches can stress the plant and expose the roots. This also causes over-drying and can deplete soil resources more quickly.

Steps to Mow the Right Way:

  • Don’t mow shorter than 3 inches.
  • Mow more often and don’t cut more than 1/3 of the leaf off at a time.
  • Don’t mow when it is too hot or too dry.
  • Keep mower blade sharp and set at the highest setting.
  • If you have a small lawn, consider using a reel mower  and get some exercise in the process!

 

Water Carefully

Lawn watering accounts for over half of residential water usage in the summer. Using the steps above will reduce the amount of water needed and create a stronger lawn.

It is also important to water consistently, but not too often. Letting the soil dry out between watering forces grass to grow deeper roots to find water. When you do water, water deeply.

About an inch a week — and remember, this includes rainfall — should keep a lawn healthy and green.

Steps to Water Grass for a Good Lawn:

  • Water less frequently but more deeply.
  • Choose grass that is more drought-tolerant.
  • Most lawns need about 1 inch per week.
  • If it rains more than 1 inch per week, there is no need to water.

 

 

Lawn Fertilizers

 

Fertilize Naturally

There is really no need for expensive chemical fertilizers. Natural fertilizers like compost work just as well! Natural solutions also nourish the soil over time, not just feed the grass from the top. This creates a stronger lawn over time.

Top dressing is one way to do this. Scatter 1/2 inch compost or natural fertilizer over the grass and rake in. Alternately, broadcast natural fertilizer after aerating or before watering.

Add the necessary nutrients determined by soil testing. Your lawn will improve dramatically if your grass is in need of certain nutrients or a different pH.

Steps to Fertilize Naturally:

  • Broadcast a natural fertilizer in the fall or spring.
  • Topdress with 1/2 inch of compost or natural fertilizer and rake into the grass.
  • Use a seaweed extract as additional fertilizer.
  • Focus on soil quality over time instead of a quick fix.

 

Stop Weeds Without Harmful Chemicals

This is the hardest part to do naturally, but you can do it!

Did you know that weeds can be an indication that lawn health isn’t optimal? Improve the soil and you will already be a long way toward reducing weed growth. Many herbicides are harmful to humans and animals too! Studies show chemicals in conventional lawn care contribute to thyroid problems and even non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Glyphosate is a whole other story, and definitely does not belong on a lawn where kids and pets play.

The organic lawn care solution: leaving grass longer also helps control weed population by leaving a larger surface area for grass to photosynthesize.

Steps to Reduce Weeds Naturally:

  • Many weeds are actually herbs with many benefits. Don’t remove them at all!
  • Leave grass longer so it will resist weeds naturally.
  • Add a second plant to your lawn like white clover to compete with weeds and replenish soil.
  • Avoid harmful herbicides and use natural methods instead.

 

Grow a Garden Instead!

Feel really brave?

Ditch the lawn completely and grow a garden instead! You can grow vegetables, herbs and fruits in your front yard and make it look beautiful too! Incorporate vegetables and herbs into an existing garden bed for an easy transition.

Or:

Go all out and turn your entire front yard into a flourishing vegetable garden. Urban front-yard vegetable gardens are becoming very popular. They are a great alternative to a mono crop like grass and you get food too! Plus, gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes!

Many Home Owner Associations don’t allow edible gardens in front yards, but you can work edible plants into your landscape. If you have an urban vegetable garden in your front yard, please share how you did it in the comments!

 

Growing a Beautiful Lawn Naturally: Bottom Line

You can grow a healthy, beautiful lawn without harmful chemicals!

Choose a native grass for your area. Add a complimentary plant like white clover or even wildflowers! Water when needed consistently but not as often. Fertilize naturally and add compost to improve soil.

The environment, your pets, and the bees will thank you!

 

Lawn with wildflowers

 

Resources:

https://wellnessmama.com/123908/beautiful-lawn

https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/natural-lawn-care-techniques/5065.html

The Goddess Energy of Mother Tara.

Green Tara

 

I have a Green Mother Tara on my desk, by my computer. Today is clean up day in our area. A powerful storm with high winds uprooted and knocked down trees, limbs, roofing shingles, and blew yard decorations and debris into many yards. The storm left us without power the whole day and into the evening hours.

As I hear the chainsaws and clean up going on outside, I am reminded to connect with the trees coming down, giving them gratitude for their BEING on this earth plane. All the shade they provided and wisdom whispering in the wind to all those that would listen…. priceless.

I thought I would share more information on Mother Tara so that you may connect with her as well! Especially with all the Natural Disasters that are taking place all over the globe. Well, disasters to us… but cleansing and rebirth for Mother Earth. 

Connect with Mother Earth/ Goddess energy, Send Healing and Love and Pray… it is all needed at this time. 

Many Blessings ~ Rev. Tiffany White Sage Woman

 

Mother Tara has the power to remove all obstacles and problems and to help anyone who requests her help as long as all is done with good intention. I have personally connected with Mother Tara ever since I discovered her. Tara is also known as the “Swift Liberator” because she is the all-powerful goddess who acts very quickly.

In Sanskrit, the name Tara means ‘Star’, but She was also called ‘She Who Brings Forth Life’, The Great Compassionate Mother, and The Embodiment of Wisdom, and the Great Protectress.

Tara is actually the essence of the goddess energy within you …. the Goddess Tara arises from within yourself. This energy transcends religions, cultures, race, and is not just for women! It’s also for men because then you have the combination of yin and yang. Connect with Tara, and visualize her at your heart, in the form of a beautiful green goddess.

While Green Tara encompasses all the Taras, you may also feel drawn to White Tara, Yellow Tara, Red Tara, or Black Tara.  To me, Green Tara is another symbol of Mother Earth/Mother Goddess. Connect with which ever Tara you have a great affinity with and what you want to ask from her. So, I often visualize Tara in all the five colors. What are the five colors? Green, White, Yellow, Red, and Black.

You will find that by invoking good things coming to you, the combination of the five colors have greater strength and meaning. If you go to many of the Tibetan Buddhist high lamas, they give ‘blessing threads’ that come in five colors. The five colors actually represent all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the world and all the various spiritual Higher Beings.

White Tara, the pacifying one: If you are in pain or suffering from a severe illness, connect with White Tara and envision her sending healing energy into you. There is nothing better for illness than goddess energy! If you are sad or depressed, you need White Tara. She will calm all of your extreme emotions giving you peace of mind to enjoy your life. White Tara is very powerful.

Yellow Tara:  Increases wealth and prosperity, life force and spirit essence, knowledge, skills and wisdom. If you are anxious about your house value, money, assets, etc., connect with Yellow Tara. She is truly the Goddess of wealth and abundance.

Red Tara: The Goddess of Power and Authority. She increases your confidence and blesses you with the power of speech to influence those around you.

Black Tara: Identical in form and, no doubt, source, to Hindu Kali and is associated with power. Like Kali, She has a headdress of grinning skulls, like Kali, she is black, like Kali She has three eyes. Like many Tibetan deities in the wrathful aspect, She has the fangs of a tiger, symbolizing ferocity, a ferocious appetite to devour the demons of the mind. Her aura or halo is fiery, energetic, full of smoke symbolizing the transformation of fire. The Black Tara has been compared to the perfect guardian of the void, the Divine Mother of compassion and a firm Goddess to ward off any forms of evil.

The Symbolism of the Beautiful Lotus

 

 

The symbolism and meaning of the lotus flower is different between cultures, though in fact they share many similarities.

Nothing symbolizes purity and perfection more than the lotus. It also has spiritual and religious connotations… it’s petals are said to symbolize the doctrine of Buddha’s teachings. There is great love and reverence for the lotus flower in the east due to the importance of this symbol in many of the Buddhist traditions. And we often see that Buddha himself is depicted sitting on a sacred lotus with straight back and folded limbs in front… called the lotus posture.

This is a posture assumed by Buddhist monks and holy masters when they meditate and teach the sutras. Many Dharma students also sit lotus position when attending teachings or meditating. Even if it is difficult for you and you feel pain or cramping it’s good to practice as this position is very conducive to quieting the body thereby aiding in meditation and keeping your back straight helps with chi flow in the body.

Om Mani Padme Hum is also known as the lotus mantra… the mantra of the Compassionate Buddha and reciting it many times is said to bring a shower of blessings. Since the Chinese manifestation of the Compassionate Buddha is the Goddess of Mercy Kuan Yin, this is therefore the Kuan Yin mantra. In India the Compassionate Buddha is known as Avilokiteshvara while in Tibet as Chenresig.

In feng shui the lotus is believed to symbolize the purity of love. For those of you who believe in and desire “old-fashioned” love with marriage and a good family life… I suggest you incorporate the lotus symbol – either the real plant or flower or artificial decoration into your surroundings to nurture a true feeling of peace and contentment.

It is not too surprising that the many different colors have come to be associated with  different aspects of Buddhism. The main symbolism of the lotus flower and their meanings are given here.

  • Blue lotus: The blue lotus flower is associated with a victory of the spirit over that of wisdom, intelligence and knowledge. If you get to see it a blue Lotus in Buddhist art you will notice that it is always depicted as being partially open and the centre is never observed.
  • White lotus flower: this color lotus is known to symbolize Bodhi (being awakened), and represents a state of mental purity, and that of spiritual perfection; it is also associated with the pacification of one’s nature. This lotus is considered to be the womb of the world.
  • Purple lotus: known to be Mystic and is associated with esoteric sects. It can be shown depicted as either an open flower or as a bud. The eight petals of the purple Lotus are representative of the noble eightfold path; one of the principal teachings of the Buddha. Following this path is thought to lead to self awakening, and is considered one of the noble truths.
  • Pink lotus flower: this is the supreme lotus and is considered to be the true lotus of Buddha.
  • Red lotus: this is related to the heart, and the Lotus flower meaning is associated with that of love and compassion.

 

Perhaps one of the strongest associations of the lotus flower with religion is that that is observed in Hinduism. In this religion the lotus flower meaning is associated with beauty, fertility, prosperity, spirituality, and eternity. The most common lotus form seen in Hinduism is the white lotus flower.

Many of the gods and goddesses of Hinduism are linked to the flower, for example the goddess of prosperity, Laxmi, is usually depicted as being seated atop a fully opened lotus flower. Likewise Brahma, the god of creation is depicted as emerging from a lotus that crawls from the Naval of the sustainer Lord Vishnu.

The flower always looks so clean and pure against the background of the dirty pond. Because of this the lotus flower has come to be associated with purity and beauty in the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism respectively; the ancient Egyptians scholars observed that in the night-time the lotus closed its flowers and sank into the water, and came up with a different association with the flower related to rebirth and the Sun; in actual fact the Lotus slowly emerges from a pond over a three day period and then blooms in the morning until mid-afternoon.

Egyptian blue lotus

Therefore the lotus came to symbolize the Sun and the creation. In many hieroglyphics works the lotus is depicted as emerging from Nun (the primordial water) bearing the Sun God.

As something that is associated with rebirth, it is no surprise that the lotus flower is also associated with death, and the famous Egyptian book of the dead is known to include spells that are able to transform a person into a lotus, thus allowing for resurrection.

Another interesting fact about the lotus flower meaning to the Egyptians was the way that it was used as a symbol for the unification of the two Egyptian kingdoms, that is to say the bonding of upper and lower Egypt. For a long time the lotus had been used in the hieroglyphics and art of upper Egypt, whereas in lower  Egypt the Papyrus plant was notably in abundance. Therefore pictures of lotus and Papyrus that had grown up together and become inter-wound with each other came to be a symbol of the bringing together of the two kingdoms.

It is very interesting how the open flower and the unopened Lotus bud forms are associated with human traits. The unopened bud is representative of a folded soul that has the ability to unfold and open itself up to the Divine Truth.

May the obstacles to your flight be few and the Blessings along your journey be many. Namaste,

~ Rev. Tiffany White Sage Woman

 

The Holly Fairy

holly-flower-fairy

The Holly Fairy is the jolliest
Little fairy of them all
With her rosy scarlet cheeks
She brings her bright fruits after fall

In her little dress of green
And her shoes of ruby red
She makes the Winter cheerful
And keeps the birds well fed

She tiptoes through the prickles
And polishes all the berries
At Christmas time especially
She helps us to feel merry

When you hang your Holly wreath
Upon the entrance to your home
Know that good luck will come your way
For red and green are the colours of the Gnomes

The Gnomes they lend their palette
To Holly fairies one and all
They also tend to the trees from the ground below
And make sure all is well with roots and soil

These little Nature helpers
All work together as one everywhere
Wouldn’t it be lovely
If all humans worked together without a care

~ Joanne Kavanagh  28.Nov.16

(Thank you Joanne for this beautiful poem!!!)