Get Your Yard Into Shape

Bright green lawn with mulched garden bed on the side including white and purple flowers

Every season, many of us spend countless backbreaking hours working on our lawns and gardens. But are our efforts actually harming the planet? Are we condemning our local flora and fauna and choosing instead flowers that are decorative, but also invasive and possibly poisonous to birds and other wildlife (not to mention our beloved pets)? If you want to get your yard in gear AND help the planet at the same time, we’ve got you covered!

Here are the key parts of a healthy, pesticide-free lawn—more details here.

  1. Healthy Soil: Test your soil to find out if the pH level is in balance. Aerate your soil and topdress with compost in the fall. Use organic or slow-release fertilizers. Dethatch by raking thatch that's more than 1/2 inch thick.
  2. Choose the Right Seed: Use seed that matches the amount of shade or sun your yard has, and choose seeds that contain endophytes which protect against insects, fungus and drought. A seed mix with Dutch white clover adds nitrogen to the soil and provides for pollinators. Overseed bare spots in the spring and fall. 
  3. Water Just Enough: Water deeply (about 1 inch) in the mornings when needed. Don't over-water!
  4. Mow High & Often: Cut grass to 3 inches (or highest setting). Try to remove only 1/3 of the grass height each time. Leave grass clippings in place.
  5. Weed Management: Manually remove weeds with poppers or twisters, pour boiling water on weeds, use a flame weeder, or try out a DIY vinegar spray.

Collage with five photos & text: 1) yellow handled tool pulling out a dandelion (Weed Management); sprinkler on a grass lawn (Water Just Enough); closeup of brown soil (Healthy Soil); closeup of lush, long green grass (Choose the Right Seed); lawn mower with grass blades flying (Mow High & Often)

NCAP also has great videos to help with your yard and garden, including:

Creating Healthy Habitat – how to create a complex ecosystem in your backyard, to help pollinators and other beneficial insects:

Organic Turf Care 101 – how to maintain healthy turf grass including: watering properly, when and why to mow, and what your turf needs to get the most out of the organic nutrients you're putting down:

Dandelions, Pesticides and Soil Health – start at 44 seconds for tips to manage dandelions without chemicals, plus other natural solutions to maximize soil health:

Managing Tree of Heaven – three main steps for managing this problematic non-native species in the Pacific Northwest:

3 Tips to Manage Yellowjackets – prevention, trapping and spraying, and nest removal:

Get expert advice for your toughest pest & weed issues

Lastly, NCAP provides individualized pest and weed advice services at a sliding scale rate to help you identify and implement pesticide-free strategies. Learn more and sign up here.

Three photos- closeup of dead ants on a trap, fuzzy dandelion-like flower heads, and orange aphids all over bright green leaves- with the words in bold: Got pest or weed problems?

Want to show off your pesticide-free yard, and protect it from chemicals? Get an NCAP yard sign!

Metal sign with drawing of a yard scene- yellow flowers, black grass, white butterfly and black bee- in a yard with bright greenery and blue-purple flowers

Many of the videos and resources highlighted in this article were paid for by grants that are now completed. If you found these resources helpful, please make a donation so we can create more of them. Thanks for your support!


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  • Bobbie Peyton
    published this page in BLOG 2023-05-22 10:34:49 -0700