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Quitting Chemicals

illustration: shovel

Microbial action in soil makes nutrients available to the roots of plants. Without soil microbes the only way to feed lawns is by the action of water-soluble, chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers provide a quick one-shot fix that must be repeated several times over the growing season. If you restore the microbial life of the soil and apply slow-release organic fertilizers, you will need to only fertilize once—in the fall, and you will break the chemical habit.

If you currently apply pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, or have hired a lawn-care company to do so, you are spending your hard-earned money to support the "cravings" of a chemically-dependent lawn. While a chemically addicted lawn appears on the surface to be lush and green, it is really a sterile system supported not by living soil and beneficial organisms, but by man-made chemical concoctions. Eliminate chemicals that kill beneficial organisms in the soil, and your lawn will gradually begin to thrive. For a few seasons, your lawn may exhibit some symptoms of withdrawal. During this transition from dependence to self-sustenance, you'll have to patiently nurture your recovering lawn.

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