Understanding Soil

Today we’ll be discussing soil as it relates to growing and maintaining a healthy lawn.

When it comes to lawn care and gardening in general, the success of grass or any plant begins with the soil. Soil acts as the food source for your lawn, holding and delivering nutrients, minerals, water, air, and organic matter to your grass.

Much in the same way we pay attention as to what we eat and put in our bodies, the same care and consideration should be made when it comes to maintaining a healthy soil. The more chemicals we ingest in our food, the less healthy we tend to be. The same applies to synthetic, chemical lawn care vs. organic lawn care.

The Anatomy of Soil

So what is soil exactly? In short, it is a living organism beneath your grass and other plants.

Soil is made up of minerals, organic matter, sand, silt, clay, and living organisms (earthworms, nematodes, bacteria, etc.). Through many interactions and changes in bedrock beneath the soil, heat, water, and air interactions, in combination with living organisms moving material, we have what we think of as “soil” (Tukey 34). 

The processes by which soil is created is beyond the scope of this blog, but just know that it takes many interactions and thousands of years to produce the soil we grow plants in. 

So what is the important take-away? In essence, you want to be familiar with what type of soil you have so you can better understand what your options are to make it more fertile for grass to grow. 

Types of Soil and What it Means for You

Soil can first be categorized into three types of textures: silt, sand or clay. There are further sub-textures and mixes as well but if you’ve ever gardened or played in the dirt as a kid in Missouri you know that we tend to have clay-type soil.

Clay soil is distinctive in that it feels heavy in your hands and sticks together when wet. It is rare that you can grow plants or vegetables easily without adding compost or soil amendments when planting. Luckily, grass can grow quite well in it if you do some basic maintenance that we’ll get to in a minute. 

Soil can further be categorized on its structure, not to be confused with texture. Whereas texture is the sizes and proportion of individual particles that make up the soil, structure refers to how these individual particles stick together or clump (Tukey 35). 

In the clay-type soil of Missouri, the structure tends to be dense and compact. This is important to keep in mind when it comes to lawn use. Too much foot traffic, pets, outdoor sports, etc. can lead to further compaction of an already dense soil. 

A good way to alleviate the stress from these types of activities is to have a year-end soil aeration performed. You can have a lawn service do this (like GreenTech Lawn Care) or you can find what’s known as a core aerator at your local hardware store. The objective is to make sure the soil gets de-compacted and allows for air and organic matter to enter the soil.

Another stressor for your soil can be the over-application of fertilizers, synthetic or organic. For lawns that are unhealthy or dead, we recommend a soil test from the MU Extension office to determine what nutrients need to go into the soil and at what quantities. 

For lawns that are already healthy, we recommend our organic fertilization program with properly applied amounts of chemical-free fertilizer.

What if My Soil Chemistry is Right, Now What?

Beyond the science-y details of soil, it is crucial to have proper soil depth and drainage for a lawn to be healthy. “Depth simply refers to the amount of good soil available for the grass to develop roots. Drainage is soil’s ability to keep water moving (Tukey 37).”

Grass needs at least six inches of quality topsoil to grow, preferably up to twelve inches. Drainage issues can occur if you have low spots in a really flat lawn and can be fixed with various techniques such as an underground basin or trench/storm drains.

Depth and drainage issues tend to occur if your home is new construction or if you’ve have excessive erosion occur.

If you have a new home built, make sure the contractor hires someone to properly install your lawn! If you have erosion due to the elements, you need to have a professional landscaper evaluate your yard. We recommend local company Sustainable by Nature for depth and drainage issues. 

In Summary

When it comes to the soil and your lawn, it’s best to keep in mind that soil is a living organism that is similar to our bodies in that what you feed it will determine how healthy it is. 

Various factors such as foot traffic, pets, erosion, how you mow your lawn, and chemical vs. organic fertilizers all play a part in how your soil supports healthy lawn growth.  

Sources: The Organic Lawn Care Manual, Paul Tukey

Welcome to the GreenTech Lawn Care Blog

Greetings!

Welcome to the GreenTech Lawn Care blog. Our purpose here is to educate and empower you when it comes to making decisions about lawn care and environmentally-friendly practices.

It’s important to note, whether you choose us for your lawn care needs or another company, be aware of the right questions to ask any company that will be providing a service for your home.

Questions such as: Are you licensed and insured? Do you guarantee your work and have examples of quality of work? How can I get ahold of you should an issue arise? Is sensitive information such as my form of payment secure with you?

At GreenTech Lawn Care we can answer yes to the above questions.

We also believe that we all have a part to play in terms of improving the environmental health our communities. Specifically, how do our collective consumption patterns in the lawn care segment impact the environment in our communities?

Who We Are

GreenTech Lawn Care was founded on the vision of creating a healthy community, one lawn at a time.

We are eco-minded entrepreneurs who want to care for your lawn in a sustainable way. What we want for your lawns is the same thing that any parent wants for a family: to care for it in a healthy, responsible, and cost-effect way.

Why?

Because healthy, eco-conscious lawn care practices translate into healthier, happier communities. When you and your family are safe from harmful chemicals and pollutants so prevalent in the business-as-usual lawn care industry, we all thrive.

What Makes Us Different

Many lawn care companies offer quality work and customer service at an affordable rate.

We offer the same quality work, customer service, at a competitive price in the most eco-friendly way possible.

We are the first lawn care company in Southwest Missouri to offer electric, solar-powered mowing along with organic offerings for lawn fertilization. The benefits of this approach to lawn care are many and include less pollution dirtying the air we breath, less noise in our neighborhoods, and fewer harmful chemicals entering our waterways that have been known to cause cancer.

Why approach lawn care this way?

Because we care about our environment and the places we call home.

Like any other industry, lawn care can have adverse effects on the environment. This is because of the large amount of acreage that is devoted to turf grass in the U.S. It is estimated that 40 million acres or 1.9% of land in the U.S. if turf grass! That’s about the size of the entire state of Missouri.

In terms of resource usage and mowing and maintaining all this grass, this translates into an unfathomable amount of water (7 billion gallons), gas (800 million gallons), and chemicals being consumed or wasted.   

So, in the greater context of sustainability and environmental responsibility we see that lawn care has a large part to play.

We are doing our best to change the typical wasteful model of the lawn care industry.

So what is environmental sustainability in the first place?

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability in terms of the environment is defined as the ability to sustain our current quality of life on the planet with responsible resource use so future generations can enjoy the same or better quality of life as we do today.
 

It’s about making decisions that have our health and the future in mind. It’s about being responsible for our consumption patterns and actions so we can share a common place to live.

It’s not always easy or convenient but it’s simply the right thing to do for the planet.

In Conclusion

We have briefly looked at how the lawn care industry has an impact on the environment and the communities in which we live. It’s important to keep in mind that whoever you choose to care for your lawn be trustworthy, licensed, and insured. It’s also important to ask what they are doing to be environmentally responsible.

At GreenTech lawn care we are striving to change the typical lawn care model and make it more eco-friendly.

We want to be a resource for you and educate you on options for taking care of your lawn.

We will be taking a look at specific topics in lawn care and environmental sustainability in this blog series. Stay tuned for more post every other week!

Until then, grab something warm to drink and hunker down for the winter :).


John