Organic Lawn Care
In 2005, Richard A. McCoy Horticultural Services Inc. began transitioning from conventional lawn applications to organic lawn care. We have since developed superior knowledge of the role that lawns play in our landscapes, communities, and ecology and have made it a top priority to balance ecological consciousness with lawn functionality and aesthetics.
We appreciate that community members are concerned about the synthetic chemicals that are applied during traditional lawn maintenance. Their harmful effects to our health (even in low-dose exposure) have been well-documented. Our approach has proven that the use of hazardous synthetic materials commonplace in traditional lawns is not only unacceptable but also no longer necessary. Without compromising quality, we have cost-effectively provided our clients with healthy green lawns and flourishing landscapes while facilitating the rebuilding of our vital local ecosystems.
Our turf programs and à la carte items (see below) are designed to deliver value, simplicity, and satisfaction to our clients. Let us handle the complexity of the science, while you enjoy the ease of an ecologically stable, safe, and healthy lawn and landscape. After all, that’s why you have decided to work with the best.
A Shared Commitment
Just as we are committed to our clients and the organic process, we ask that you share our commitment to this process and trust in our experience. We recommend against approaching this process with the mindset of simply “trying” organics for a year. If you are a new client of McCoy Horticultural and a new participant in the organic method, we ask that you understand that this is a multi-year process. We are very open and honest and do our best to convey every scenario to our clients and to be as transparent and as proactive as possible when we see the potential for an issue begin to arise.
Most importantly, we recognize that it may be challenging to determine which organic lawn care provider has the integrity to be honest and forthright about their lawn care programs. Our longevity in providing these services and willingness to educate the general public and green professionals on the best practices of organic lawn care systems is a testament to our leadership, transparency, and commitment to the practice of organic lawn care.
Three Turf Programs & What To Expect
For best results, we suggest beginning with the First Transition Level – The Awakening Program, followed by the Second Transition Level – The Essential Seven Program. The goal of McCoy Horticultural is for all of our clients to reach the third and final level, the Organic Level – Just the Organics Please Program. By following this carefully calculated three-step process, you should see a reduction in your overall turf application and water costs.
Note: A key component of our programs is flexibility, and with that, there may be times when we suggest and manage an alternate route. The following is a common scenario and an example of what could be expected under optimal conditions. Your individual results may vary – it is important to remember that weather conditions will always play a key role in any stand of turfgrass.
First Transition Level – The Awakening
This first step aggressively addresses the keystone component of a healthy organic turf system: soil health. By addressing soil’s biological health, pH, and percentage of organic matter present in the soil, we can ensure a strong foundation for organic turf.
By adding an array of food sources, we begin to restore microbial life in the soil biology. This process is sustained as part of your routine application program.
By balancing the pH, we establish a more comfortable living area for soil microbes, which makes soil nutrients more readily available to the grass plants.
By adding well-aged compost topdressing and core aeration, we reduce soil compaction, providing a more favorable soil profile for air and water absorption, thus establishing a healthier and more vigorous root system that grows deeper and becomes more resilient in the face of drought.
Bio-herbicides (EPA-registered products derived from naturally occurring materials) are applied to reduce weed pressure.
The introduction of hand-selected grass seed blends is customized by our team based on their expert knowledge of the best cultivars for our organic programs.
Second Transition Level – The Essential Seven
The Second Transition Level – The Essential Seven Program is similar to the Awakening Program. We still need to manage turfgrass weeds with bio-herbicides, make pH corrections, reduce soil compaction, add new and improved grass seeds, and continue to improve the soil biology.
If any further adjustments to pH or additions of organic matter are made during the second transition level, they should be minimal in comparison to the first transition level.
Improve the soil biology. This process of feeding the soil will continue throughout the life of your organic turf system and become a part of your routine maintenance application program.
Monitor the pH. The first transition level began to establish a more comfortable living space for soil microbes. Monitoring the pH will keep the microbes active and, in turn, make soil nutrients more readily available to the grass plants.
Core-aeration and compost topdressing will help decrease compaction and allow air, water, and food sources for soil microbes become more abundant, adding to the stability of the soil biology.
We continue the use of bio-herbicides (EPA-registered products derived from naturally occurring materials) to reduce weed pressure. As turfgrass becomes healthier and thicker, these applications are reduced.
As in traditional or conventional lawn care, the fall season is the ideal time for the introduction of new and improved grass seed blends. In an organic turf system fall season seeding is an important step in building a dense turf. New selections introduced each year add to your lawn’s resistance against drought and disease.
Improve cultural practices. Ensuring that your lawn is cut at an appropriate height to maximize photosynthesis and improve turf density plays a vital role in the health of your lawn. Proper irrigation is also critical. Lawns are commonly damaged by overwatering. In most cases, frequent, quick, and ill-timed watering will lead to shallow, weak roots and top growth that becomes susceptible to fungal diseases.
Third Transition Level – Just The Organics Please
By reaching the Third Transition Level – Just the Organics Please program, your lawn and landscape have transitioned to an economically efficient, ecologically balanced, healthy environment that is teeming with life.
Now, your soil is a living ecosystem full of microorganisms, living creatures that need to be fed and stimulated into action from time to time. You need to continuously improve your soil’s biology. The food sources for this biology may change, but this act of feeding the soil will continue as part of your organic maintenance program.
You must monitor the pH of your soil. Once we have balanced the soil pH, we’ll take soil samples and provide a soil test every third year. Our soils are naturally acidic, and to keep the pH at the appropriate level, we apply lime seasonally.
Compost topdressing is applied only when necessary.
Substituting annual fall mechanical core aeration with biological means is a possibility as your organic lawn matures.
By removing bio-herbicides from the program, we have accomplished our goal of requiring just the organics.
Spring and fall introductions of improved grass seed blends can become the best way to have a weed-free, organic lawn. Our team continually reviews new grass seed science to bring you the best seed blend for your organic lawn.
Maintain cultural practices. McCoy Horticultural will make sure that we follow current best practices and strict cultural practices when weekly lawn mowing visits take place. Routine irrigation system checks ensure that sprinkler heads are operating correctly and plants are watered properly.