Do you think about a lush, green lawn when you picture spring in your yard? If my neighbors are any indication, most people do. Driving around my area, it seems everyone is out on their tractors spraying their lawns with fertilizer and weed killer.
I wish more people knew they could have a beautiful, lush lawn without the chemicals – at a fraction of the cost – by learning how to make compost tea!
Treating Your Lawn Naturally
Compost teas are so much easier! The reason we have problems with weeds in our lawns, after all, is because they are incredibly low in nutrition. We don’t need to put down herbicides. We need to bring up the health of our soil.
You can use the same spraying equipment that you may already have or can easily get in the garden store. Depending on the size of your lawn it may be convenient to have a sprayer that pulls behind your lawnmower or you might be able to do with just a handheld sprayer.
You only need a few simple things to make the compost tea, though you can get more involved with the equipment if you wish. At the very least you’ll need a 5-gallon bucket (this can be a simple paint bucket from the hardware store) and a fish tank bubbler. In our case, we make a large amount of tea to use on almost four acres so we bought a rain barrel with a spigot on the front.
Making the Compost Tea for Your Lawn
For this I will refer you to the book, Teaming With Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. I love this book for good instruction on making compost. Or read our article on secrets to making great compost tea.
Once you get the compost, add it to your container (tie a good double handful of compost into the leg of a pair of hosiery) and cover with water. Be sure your water is not filled with chlorine or fluoride – this means be careful of your city water in this application. Add two tablespoons of molasses, cane sugar, or fruit juice, turn on your bubbler, and let it go for 24 hours. While it’s brewing, keep your bucket out of direct sunlight or intense heat or cold.
How Often Do I Apply Compost Tea?
If your lawn has been damaged with chemical fertilizers in the past you will do best with a bi-weekly application for a few months. Apply either in the morning before it heats up or in the evening before the dew sets.
Some Common Problems You Can Address
Though I can’t imagine anyone wanting to get rid of dandelions, let’s say you do. (Read about the benefits of dandelions, or how they make a delicious weed salad for dinner.) Try making your compost tea out of comfrey (Symphytum officinale). It is high in calcium and dandelions thrive in calcium-poor soils. Fix the nutrient level and the dandelions will disappear. Read our article on making compost tea with wild comfrey.
Moss, fungus, and “fairy rings”
Your soil is more readily a home to fungus than bacteria. You might want to do more frequent applications of your bacteria-rich compost tea until you see the problem go away.
How do you keep your lawn? Is it filled with grass, weeds, or food?