Today, Beverly Welch is joined by Angela Chandler from The Garden Academy. Bev and Angela discuss organic methods for preventative lawn care in the gulf climate.

Beverly] Hi, and welcome. I’m Beverly Welch. We’re here at The Arbor Gate today in Tomball, Texas with our good friend, Angela Chandler from the Garden Academy.

– [Angela] Good morning.

– How are you today?

– I’m doing great.

– You know, Angela, one of the biggest questions we get asked every spring and fall are, “What are these brown patches in my grass?” And it is a huge issue here on the Gulf Coast with our climate and our soils.

– Right. It’s just a breeding house for fungal issues.

– It is. It really is. But, you know, chemicals are great to get things under control but they’re just a Band-Aid, really. They don’t attack the problem or the issue.

– Yes, it’s a short-term fix.

– It is.

– But it’s not the way to cultivate the lawn so that it’s healthier in the long run.

– So there are some great organic methods that not only can keep this under control, but prevent it.

– Yes. And preventive maintenance is really where we want to head after we fixed the initial issues that we have.

– Right. So when we start seeing these fungal diseases in the lawn, typically, they show up as a circular patch, and when we have the cool nights, warm days, it really activates it and gets it going. People will also notice that they get it in the same areas every year, same spots.

So that tells you…

– It really does.

– Exactly, where your problem area is and and what needs to be treated. So we start out oftentimes by just racking out the dead thatch.

– Yeah, racking out the thatch, cleaning the area up, mowing it low so that you’re prepared to go in with remediation activities.

– Right. Now, an organic control, if you will, to prevent us from using chemicals right away would be our garlic.

– Yeah, you know…

– That’s one of the number one…

– It is. Garlic has a lot of antifungal properties for everything.

– Right.

– It’s really a general purpose anti-fungal and it has a gentler way of acting, safe for your pets, safe for the kids.

– And it’s also great insect repellent.

– It’s fabulous insect repellent. There is garlic oil in the mosquito repellents that we use and it lasts for days.

– It does. It really, really does. And another great organic control is the sesame oil.

– You know, there’s a lot of research now showing sesame oil in garden controls. Another one that’s gentle and safe but fairly effective in the landscape. So it’s a really great alternative to some of the harsher and more dangerous chemicals.

– So once we see these areas we rack out our thatch, we apply these organic fungicides to sort of get it in control. Now we need to work on the preventative maintenance.

– Right.

– So, typically, these problems occur in areas where your soil is being compacted. It doesn’t really show that it’s holding water at surface, but subsurface you’ve got some issues there with air circulation or air on the roots of the plant.

– Yeah, there are. It’s what we call internal drainage, where we can see that water sheets off the top but there is drainage issues down below that we really can’t address, and sometimes within the lawn, they’re fairly shallow so that we can actually fix them without doing anything major excavation.

– Right. So core aeration is always a great practice.

– Core aeration is great.

– But a little bit of an issue for a lot of homeowners and especially with irrigation pipes.

– Yeah, it can affect irrigation. And also when you have your yard fully landscaped, sometimes it’s a little unwieldy to try to go in and do core aeration.

– Right. But we can aerate organically with these products, right?

– Yes, we can.They really do a great job for that.

– So we can start by putting down our organic food.

– Yes.

– Followed by a layer, and just a half inch layer. We don’t want to go too deep…

– Right, with our compost.

– With our compost. And what compost does is it provides all of the soil biology so that it can go back in and where we have issues some of those beneficial organisms actually are antagonistic to the soil organisms that are causing us problems.

– Right.

– So it’s a way of getting nature back into balance. It doesn’t happen overnight the same way we see with chemical, sometimes. In fact, all of these things have a tendency to work a little slower, but over the long run it’s a better option and we’ll see more return in the future.

– Exactly. So once we get these products down, it’s a good practice to activate them with our liquid products as well.

– Yes, it really is. You know, soil activators and then EM-1 which is… Hello, good morning. And then EM-1 which is a probiotic. So we’re using something that activates the soil and then something that has a probiotic action in the soil so it’s all that good biology working against the bad biology.

– Now, often times as the grass grows up through this half inch layer, it’s not a bad idea to repeat that process in that same spot.

– Yeah, I think that’s correct. A repeat episode of it will be a good thing to do.

– So this is not only…this is not a Band-Aid…

– No.

– As with chemicals. This is a permanent fix.

– Yes, it is.

– So we can get rid of those brown patches every spring and fall organically, safely, and have a healthy more beautiful lawn.

– Yeah, and I think overall you’re going to see a big difference the next year.

– Great. Well, thank you so much Angela.

– Thank you Beverly.