The southern shore of Rhode Island presents special problems and opportunities for optimizing household and commercial landscapes. We believe that an organic approach using native plants, minimizing the use of aggressive pesticides and fertilizers and optimizing water usage will produce a better lawn and healthier landscape plantings. Organic landscaping requires more care than “traditional” chemical approaches, but the result is a more attractive greenscape that’s healthier, more resistant to disease and pests and most important, a chemical-free environment that can be enjoyed by our children, families and pets.
The Dana Designs’ Organic Landscape Management Program assures a healthy greenscape that’s disease and drought resistant.
A lot depends on the chemistry of your soil: acidity; nutrients and micronutrients, organic matter in the soil and even the composition of the soil itself. Before we choose the types of grasses and plants to use in your landscaping, it’s important to test the soil to make sure it’s healthy and to take appropriate steps to make sure that your plantings will flourish in the soil.
If indicated by the soil chemistry, fertilize early in the spring. We recommend slow-acting organic fertilizers and compost designed to promote steady lawn growth throughout the season.
Most conventional lawns are cut too short for the health of the grass plant. Grass should rarely be cut lower than three inches and we never cut more than a third of the height of the grass plant. Leaving the grass plants a little taller makes them more disease resistant and drought tolerant and helps to choke out weeds, reducing the need for chemical herbicides. We recommend mulch-cutting or grasscycling to restore healthy nutrients to the soil. Sharp mower blades make cleaner cuts and put less stress on the grass plants by reducing openings for insect infestations and diseases.
At the end of the growing season reduce the height of the grass cut. Leaves can be mulched into the soil for fertilizer and to protect the roots of the grass plants.
Fertilizer applied at the end of the season concentrates below the soil and strengthens the roots of the grass plants for the next growing season. We aerate the lawn to promote the activity of the organisms and facilitate the transfer of oxygen and water though the soil. Aeration promotes the growth of earthworms and microorganisms that are critical to the distribution of water and nutrition through the root systems of your lawn. If the soil test indicates that the soil is too acidic, this is the right time to apply lime.