Organic Lawn Problem Solver

Our lawn problem solver offers up safe solutions for lawn weeds, pests, and diseases.

By Gretchen Roberts


Serious problems can arise even in a well-maintained organic lawn. Perhaps the soil is low in nitrogen after a dry summer, causing rust to creep up on the blades. Maybe moss is edging out the turf in a moist, shady area. Whatever the trouble, resist the temptation to blast your lawn with fungicide or insecticide. Though weeds, diseases, and insect infestations are certainly problems, they're also indicative of trouble within the lawn's natural ecosystem. Short- and long-term organic solutions are the safest way to keep your lawn—and yourself—healthy.

A few weeds are perfectly normal in an organic lawn. But a particular weed overtaking your grass is a sign your lawn isn't competitive enough, and you need to discover why in order to modify your lawn-care practices.

What Causes It

Clover, which pulls nitrogen from the air, appears where grass is sparse and the soil is low in nitrogen.

Fast fix: Till soil to remove clover; then add compost to the soil to increase its fertility. Reseed bare spots with grass.

Prevention: Apply a slow-release organic lawn fertilizer in fall and leave clippings on the grass all season.

Dandelions can appear anywhere in your lawn, especially where turfgrass is weaker.

Fast fix: Remove flower heads before they go to seed; dig out roots with a dandelion weeder.

Prevention: Apply corn-gluten meal (a natural "weed and feed") in early spring.

Crabgrass can sprout if you mow the lawn too short, allowing sunlight to germinate the weed's seeds.

Fast fix: Dig plants out completely before they set seed, and sow grass seed in their place.

Prevention: Raise your mower's blade to the highest setting and keep removing weeds from reseeded spots until new grass is established.

Broadleaf Plantain
Broadleaf plantain appears in compacted soil and anywhere grass has a hard time growing.

Fast fix: Pull plants out with a dandelion weeder and reseed with grass.

Prevention: Add compost to loosen the soil, discouraging the weed from returning.