How to Get Thick, Green Grass Organically

The grass is always greener on the other side. That’s what they say. But that’s nonsense. Your grass can be just as green as your neighbor’s and your neighbor’s neighbor’s. And we’re here to show you how.

By “green”, we mean the color of course, but also in terms of eco-friendliness. Too many people spend thousands of dollars each year on damaging lawn care products and services that give only short-term results, when “going green” gives you the best chance at keeping your lawn thick, green, and healthy, the environment in good shape, and money in your pocket.

Understanding Grass

Grass is like us. We both need a range of macro- and micronutrients to grow and stay healthy. We get our nutrients from the supermarket, and grass gets their nutrients from the soil.

But here’s the thing: grass will eventually eat up all the nutrients in the soil. When that happens, who’s going to help them replenish the fridge? Besides, grass can’t get all its nutrients from the soil, especially the three big ones: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). That’s why a fertilizer must be used.

Synthetic fertilizers promise to feed your grass a certain ratio of NPK. They’ll give your grass a quick boost of these important nutrients. But this is the problem: NPK is far from a balanced diet. We wouldn’t survive long by ingesting just a few nutrients, nor will your grass.

Organic fertilizers, on the other hand, feed your grass a balanced diet. Made from organic materials such as dead plants and animal waste, organic fertilizers can provide all the major and minor nutrients your grass needs. It doesn’t get more wholesome than that!

Here’s something very important about fertilizers: organic fertilizers enrich the soil with nutrients and promote soil life, while synthetic fertilizers do nothing to replenish the fridge or stimulate beneficial microbial activity. This is one of their major differences.

In fact, synthetic fertilizers deplete soil to the point where it’s hard to get anything to grow. The more you use, the worse it gets. We know that soil is important. It’s what feeds the grass. Therefore it’s absolutely vital that we keep the soil healthy to get thick, green grass.

So to summarize, the best way to get (and keep) thick, green grass is to nourish the soil with organic fertilizer so that it can feed your grass the essential macro- and micronutrients for healthy growth.

Do These Things

OK, class is over. Now it’s time to work on your lawn. Because good soil is important to getting thick, green grass, most of what you’ll do involves trying to make your soil as healthy as possible.

The Foolproof Lawn Care Schedule to Getting Perfect Grass

When

What

March
  • Aerate your lawn (every 2-3 years)
  • Remove weeds
  • Adjust soil pH (if necessary)
  • Apply organic fertilizer
April
  • Foliar feed your lawn
May
  • Aerate your lawn (if overseeding)
  • Overseed your lawn (warm-season grass only; if necessary)
June
  • Apply organic fertilizer
July
  • Foliar feed your lawn
September
  • Aerate your lawn (if overseeding)
  • Apply compost
  • Apply organic fertilizer
  • Overseed your lawn (cool-season grass only; if necessary)
October
  • Foliar feed your lawn

Aerate Your Lawn

Aerate your lawn every two or three years. This means removing plugs of soil from the ground to allow water, air, and fertilizer to penetrate the lawn and loosen compacted soil due to foot traffic and whatnot.

The fastest and easiest way would be to rent a power aerator from your local garden center, or hiring a lawn care company to do this for you. You can also aerate using a manual aerator. But this will require some elbow grease!

Yard Butler Lawn Aerator
This aerator is a handy tool to have. You can aerate your lawn at anytime without the need for heavy machinery.

Remove Weeds

Early spring is weed removal time. If you get weeds early, before they have a chance to establish themselves, your lawn will be in great shape heading into the growing season.

Adjust Soil pH

Another thing you should do every two or three years is to test the pH level of your soil. It needs to be adjusted if it’s too low or too high. The optimum pH level for growing grass is a neutral 6.5. That shows you the soil is healthy and brimming with microbial life.

Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Kit
A professional lab can test your lawn's soil pH for you, but you can do it yourself with a convenient home testing kit.

If your soil pH level is below 6 – or too acidic – increase the pH level by adding garden lime (also known as limestone or agricultural lime).

If your soil pH level is above 7 – or too alkaline – decrease the pH level by adding sulfur.

Apply Organic Fertilizer

Again, we want to caution against using synthetic fertilizers. They will cause many problems for you and the environment including lack of nutrients, thatch buildup, runoff, and removing your soil’s ability to grow anything. You’ll end up having to feed your lawn more and more synthetic fertilizer to get anything to grow. And then spend a ton of money to reverse the damage.

Start right by choosing an organic fertilizer. You can buy organic fertilizer at your local home improvement store in granular form. They can be scattered using a broadcast spreader. You should apply organic fertilizer no more than three times per year. There is such a thing as over-fertilizing, as there is over-eating!

Milorganite Slow-Release Organic Fertilizer
Milorganite is good stuff for your lawn. It's made by treating sewage from Milwaukee. First, they remove plastic and other debris that's not supposed to be there. Then they allow microbes to eat all the nutrients in the wastewater. In the process, water gets cleaned and pumped back into Lake Michigan, while the remaining microbes are dried in a hot kiln and turned into Milorganite pellets for your lawn.
Scotts Turf Builder Broadcast Spreader
If you don't already have one, get a broadcast spreader to scatter both fertilizer and grass seeds on your lawn.

Foliar Feed

Foliar feeding means spraying liquid fertilizer directly onto the leaves of plants. These sprays are usually made by combining micro- and macronutrient-packed things like kelp, compost tea, and fish emulsion. Foliar feeding doesn’t replace good old soil fertilization, as you still need to build healthy soil, but it’s an efficient way to get nutrients into your grass and to control certain pests.

If you want thick, green grass, apply organic foliar sprays regularly to your lawn. It’s best to do this in the mornings or evenings, when the weather is cool and damp, rather than during the day.

Medina Garrett Juice Plus
Garrett Juice is a concentrated foliar spray that you mix with water before spraying onto your lawn. It's made out of compost tea, apple cider vinegar, molasses, seaweed, and liquid fish.

Mow Right

Mowing right means several things. The first is to leave the clippings on your lawn. We’ll say it again because this is the single most important thing you can do immediately to make your grass thicker and greener: leave the clippings on your lawn.

Clippings are like free fertilizer! They should be mowed, mulched, and left as food for your lawn. All those wonderful nutrients will go back into your lawn. If you don’t have a mulching mower, you may want to invest in one or see if you can find a conversion kit that fits. Mulching helps breakdown the clippings and let them get absorbed faster.

Sun Joe 24V-X2-17LM Mulching Lawn Mower
One of the best things you can do for your lawn is to get a mulching lawn mower.

The second meaning of mowing right is to never take off more than a third of the leaf blade in one mowing. That means you have to mow more often, but understand that this will make your lawn thicker because it encourages your grass to grow new leaves.

Thirdly, make sure your blades are sharp. Dull blades can injure your grass and invite disease-causing pathogens. From an aesthetic standpoint, sharp blades make your grass look a lot nicer – like getting a nice haircut.

And finally, use string trimmers carefully. You can use them along the sidewalk and other hardscapes, but never near a tree, shrub, or other plant. They can open up a wound and cause disease and their eventual death. If you must use a string trimmer against a plant, shield it with something, or use edging shears instead.

Water Wisely

The number one rule about watering your grass is to water deeply and sporadically, rather than lightly and often. This will encourage stronger roots to develop, whereas light and frequent watering puts stress on the grass, causes shallow roots, and is overall a waste of effort, time, and water.

The rule of thumb is to water enough so that your soil is wet to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. How do you know you’ve watered enough? You use your laser vision. Or you could purchase a basic soil moisture sensor that you insert 4 to 6 inches deep and it’ll give you a moisture reading.

The next time you water is just before the grass begins to wilt. If you have drought-tolerant grass, congratulations, you’re saving money and water by not having to water so much. Here’s a cost-saving tip: use a barrel to collect rainwater so that you can use it to water your grass.

The second thing you have to take note of is when to water. The best time to water your grass is in the early morning. During the day, water will evaporate too quickly. During the night, excess water will remain and encourage disease.

Use Compost

We like to think of compost as a special weapon. Broken down organic matter is as good a fertilizer as you will find on Earth. But it does more than nourish your soil. Compost will help you break down thatch and rejuvenate your lawn.

You can either make your own compost, purchase some from the store, or get some from a compost program in your local area – sometimes for free. Compost doesn’t have to be applied often. Once a year – in the fall – spread half an inch of compost over your whole lawn and rake it in evenly. This will keep your grass as thick and green as ever.

FCMP Outdoor Tumbling Composter
A clean and easy way to make your own compost is to use a tumbling composter.

Overseed Your Lawn

Overseeding means to spread grass seed over your lawn. Grass will thin out over time as it matures. And overseeding helps fill in bare spots, prevent weeds from growing in those bare spots, thicken your lawn, and introduce newer and hardier varieties of grass to your lawn.

The best time to overseed warm-season grasses (southern US) is late spring to early summer. And the best time to overseed cool-season grasses (northern US) is in the fall. Like aeration, overseeding can be done every few years as necessary.

You Can Hear the Grass Growing

Hear that? Your grass is already growing as we speak. Thick and green! As long as you follow our foolproof methods, there’s no reason your grass can’t be greener than the other side.

Have Fun Out There!