Thanks to Gnome for partnering with me on this post. All words and opinions are my own.
I’ve had a change of heart. For the first time in 20 years, my husband will fertilize the backyard lawn this spring. You should have seen his face. It was as though I’d announced “Pizza and beer will be served every day for the rest of our marriage!”
We take frequent walks and every time we pass a home with what he considers a prime example of turf perfection, he slows his pace and always asks in a slightly exasperated way “What does this guy use?” because of course, it has to be a man that would exhibit such fastidious lawn prowess who’s obviously privy to some closely held knowledge that has yet to be shared with my husband. I’m convinced it’s a guy thing since I’ve never heard any woman, myself included, utter anything about lawn care. That would be weird. But I do appreciate a nice lawn as it relates to a garden. For me, the lawn is a place for the eye to rest when everything around it (my garden) is kinetic.
Lawn care has never been my forte. That’s my husband’s domain and a topic he spends way too much time thinking about, in my opinion. Where I see clover and dandelions (which more or less describes the backyard) he sees obnoxious interlopers. He subscribes to the big box store multi-stage process of granular weed and feed applications. It goes against all I believe about organic gardening. But marriage is full of compromise and lawn care is one of ours. For the sake of marital bliss, we have a lawn care agreement.
As you can imagine, I am pretty easy going on the matter and prefer to hand pull weeds from my garden beds. He can treat the front yard however he wishes as long as he leaves the clover, dandelion, grass combo we have going on in the backyard untouched. The raised bed veg garden is back there as well as plenty of pollinator-friendly habitat so that area has been off limits to his multi-stage fertilizing schedule…until now.
A New Way to Feed the Lawn
In my eyes, the lawn really isn’t that bad. Overlooking the weeds isn’t all that hard but the chemicals used out front have always bugged me. I hate the idea of contributing to the contamination of our sewers and water reservoirs every time we fertilize. A good portion of it inevitably runs off into our sewers, finding it’s way into our waterways. When you consider the cumulative affect of that from one household, not to mention an entire neighborhood who’s sipped the chemical lawn-care Kool-Aid, it’s a wonder anything survives.
We’ve never subscribed to a lawn-care service. That’s another issue. When a company tells you it’s all natural and their representative shows up in a hazmat suit on application day, you gotta wonder. I do, at least. I think that’s where a lot of homeowners go wrong. Intentions are good, they want a lush green lawn and trust that what they’re being sold is safe. One caveat. Safe is a relative term.
I’ve referenced this before in a previous blog post but it seems apropos to call on it again. In his book Nature’s Best Hope, Dr. Doug Tallamy explains the connection, based on 75 documented studies, between lawn pesticides and lymphoma. The population most at risk are the children and pets who play in these chemically treated spaces. Which is exactly why the backyard goes untouched. Our kids (when they were little) and dogs are all over it.
Beginning this year, we’ve decided to experiment with Gnome, an organic liquid lawn fertilizer company who approached me about trialing it this year. I’m not quick to jump into anything without a good deal of consideration and I like a company that’s willing to answer plenty of questions. I had a lot and Gnome was very open. Much of my backyard is clover and I like it that way. The honeybees do too and I wanted to be sure that Gnome fertilizer would in no way compromise it. I fired off a quick email, one of many, and they reassured me that it would in no way harm my clover/grass turf.
While lush healthy grass is the goal, Gnome focuses on the soil to achieve it. You can purchase amendments individually or opt for the subscription plan which includes a free soil test kit sent to you with a postage paid return envelope. Once the soil analysis and a brief survey are complete, Gnome creates a customized fertilizer plan and sends the amendment pouches to your door when it’s time to apply. The formulations are made of kelp, lemongrass oil, cedarwood oil, soy protein, corn steep and iron which you can read more about here. Each pouch covers 5,000 square feet and Gnome will determine how many pouches to send based on the size of your property.
I like the idea of no longer having to haul home a heavy bag of fertilizer granules. The Gnome system eliminates the need for a spreader and and we won’t have to wet the lawn before applying it. We can get it done all at once, in much less time and with the piece of mind of knowing it’s safe for pets and people. Gnome is made in Canada and certified for use in organic farming by the Canadian Organic Standards whose rules and principles are more rigid than those of the USDA. Gnome is currently seeking the seal of approval from the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), an international non-profit that determines which products are safe for use in certified organic operations.
I’m excited to give Gnome a go, my husband even more so now that he has full permission to treat the entire property for the first time since we moved here in 2004. Perhaps now he’ll feel like he’s in the know about the secret to a perfect lawn and I’ll feel better about our ecological footprint.
We’ll keep you posted on how it goes and if you think this is something you’d like to try, enter HEATHER20OFF at time of purchase for an additional 20 percent off your order.
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