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The company that takes care of my lawn uses chemical fertilizers and other treatments and, quite honestly, I'm not certain what they are putting down. Last week after the guy left, he posted yellow warning flags and now I see parts of my yard looking like the picture I sent you. In addition, I have bare patches of soil in various places in the lawn. I'm not feeling very good about this. Can you help explain what I'm seeing? Jon


Clover Damaged by Chemical Fertilizer Hello Jon,
Thank you for your question. Your picture shows clover in your lawn. On the left side of the picture, there is good healthy clover (which is a real benefit to your lawn) and on the right is what happened after your lawn care company applied weed killer. You may recall from earlier Ask the Landscape Professional articles, that before World War II, clover lawns were common (and they are making a comeback today as people become more educated about their benefits). After the war, the chemical lawn care industry was born to make use of the chemical industrial developments of the war. Unfortunately, the so-called "weed killers" that emerged, also killed clover and, out of necessity, the chemical companies began labeling clover a "weed". The "clover is a weed" myth has stuck for over 70 years! So, here's the story. Clover is one of Mother Nature's plants that "fixes" nitrogen - it takes nitrogen out of the atmosphere and transports it into the root zone in a form that plants can take advantage of it. It is Mother Nature's free "fertilizer factory"; it improves your lawn. Clover flowers also help the pollinators (who can use all the help they can get)! Farmers even plant clover as a cover crop to boost their soils.

One of the many problems with chemical "Weed and Feed" products like the one applied to your lawn is that once the (good) clover is killed, there is nothing to replace it and empty bare spots will show up. That's likely the cause of the bare patches you describe. The bare spots should be seeded, but getting grass growing now is problematic as the summer heat builds up. The other thing that happens with chemical fertilizers is that they drive the pH (measure of acidity) of the soil down, which makes it harder and harder to get grass growing and thrive in the bare spots. I often hear from people that "I've had chemical lawn care programs for years that my lawn looks worse and worse". Well, now you know why.

Sprigs & Twigs is an organic company and we do not use chemical weed killers. We offer an Organic Lawn Care Program that is 100% organic.

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.


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