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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Consider yourself lucky to have clover part of lawn

Kristin Arrigo

The lawn after winter is like a zombie waiting to come back to it’s normal life form: It’s patchy and discolored, and you know if it could speak it would say “Ehhhhh.”

Looking very uneasy – all compacted, acidic and ready to grow weeds – your lawn is hungry for something to eat. Loosen it up, and it’s still not so pretty. Mow it and get rid of any dark dead tips, and then you are ready to feed it some seeds. If you get too afraid, don’t panic and just start spreading the chemical fertilizer; beware, it may eat you in the long run.

Even if you have put the sign on your lawn that says “just been chemically treated so stay away,” it may be a while before you know the damage done to your body from a chemically treated lawn.

For a child, it affects organs that are just developing. For an adult, the endocrine system will be compromised, but you probably won’t link it up to lawn chemicals by the time you notice.

There’s another environmental reason not to buy synthetic fertilizers. Fossil fuels that are used to create synthetic fertilizers are concerning environmentally. Heating up a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen is the way fertilizer is made. The burning of fossil fuels during the manufacturing process is not good for the environment.

Eco-friendly alternatives like baking soda mixed with water is often used as a fungicide. More dependable are enzymes secreted by earthworms. You can use the compost from your vermicompost, described in a past article, or use a product called Vermiwash, available at www.indiamart.com This product uses enzymes to nitrogen-fix bacteria.

Nitrogen fixing is an important function of fertilizing the lawn. Another trendy new eco-friendly lawn fix is the clover lawn. Clover is a naturally nitrogen-fixing plant; clover is even successful when mixed in with grass.

The lawn isn’t the best idea in eco-friendly yard landscaping, however it is true that in climates that are for the better part of the year “soggy,” there is some land-lock offered with a lawn.

Clover is a ground cover with deep roots that surpass grass, making it the better choice in erosion control. That’s only part of the beauty of an eco-friendly clover lawn. You won’t even have to search for that four-leaf clover now; with clover for an entire lawn, good luck is a sure thing.

On the other hand, maybe you want your lawn to look more like grass than clover. Earth Turf is a popular eco-friendly clover lawn mixture that has microclover. Microclover is for people who like the idea of not really noticing the clover. Their product, Earth Overseed, is microclover that blends with your existing lawn and is available at www.earthturfco.com

The deep roots of clover require less watering than a lawn, and there’s no prepping and tilling. It’s actually common to spread clover throughout an already existing lawn to make it more even in color and reduce the need for fertilizer.

I probably don’t have to go on, but clover is also urine resistant. No one will ever know you have a dog! The natural bright green is not only resistant to patches from urine, but remains consistently even throughout the entire yard – now that sounds entirely zombie-proof.

Kristin Arrigo is an environmental writer and can be reached at karrigo@nashuatelegraph.com. Follow her on Twitter @ArrigoKristin. Only Better runs the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.