Earthworms – Your Lawns Best Friend
Earthworms have inhabited this planet for millions of years acting as a natural control to other insects and micro-organisms. They are not only good for the soil, but their very existence is a good indicator that the soil is healthy. If your soil had no earthworms living in it, you literally may not have healthy soil.
If you’re into lawn care diy and are sick of using artificial chemical plant foods and poisons to card for your yard and lawn, perhaps you ought to have a look at one of mother nature’s oldest and most often looked soil conditioners – earthworms.
One of the most important things that earthworms do for your soil is to aerate it. Soil aeration is important for the root systems of most plants. If your soil is too compact, water and foods will have difficulty making their way to the root systems of your grass or other plants. As a consequence, the roots will either starve or travel to the surface, which is not good. Aeration has a plethora of benefits to the soil. It helps to reduce and eliminate thatching. It reduces water runoff and improves soil drainage. Aeration helps to loosen compacted soil, especially soil that has a heavy percentage of clay, allowing the soil to “breathe.”
It’s unlikely that you’ll see earthworms during the day. They hate the daylight, probably from eons of experience being eaten by early morning birds. They love the dark and that is where you’ll most likely find them on the surface. They also seek the surface after long periods of rain where they may come to the surface for air.
If you’re just itching want to drive all of your earthworms to your neighbour’s lawn, then use a chemical fertiliser that has a high percentage of nitrogen. Large amounts of nitrogen tend to make the soil acidic which earthworms do not like. If the soil becomes too acidic, your friendly earthworms will seek greener pastures somewhere else
If, however, you want to help your earthworm friends, leave your lawn clippings on the lawn when you cut it. The grass clippings contain natural levels of nitrogen, which is good for the soil. In addition, lawn clippings are a good source of food for earthworms. No need to hide the lawn clippings behind your garden shed for composting. Allow your lawn to benefit.
Many chemical fertilisers have trifluralin as an active ingredient. Trifluralin is a suspected carcinogen which the EPA put under special review in the early eighties because of the presence of a contaminant that had been shown to cause tumors in animals. If you use chemical fertilisers on your soil, you are possibly putting the health of your lawn’s earthworms in danger.
Eliminating poisons has other benefits as well. Domesticated dogs and cats often chew on grass, dandelions, and other plants in the garden. If the lawn and plants have been treated with pesticides, your pets are also eating pesticides. In the best case, they will not be harmed. But depending on the levels of pesticides used, they could end up with an upset stomach or worse, they could be seriously poisoned. The same applies to your kids if they play on the lawn and put things in their mouth as young kids will often do.
With these facts in mind, you have to ask yourself if using chemical fertilisers is worth it, even if they offer a much easier way of keeping your lawn looking good. If, however, you are willing to try natural means of lawn care, you may find that the lowly earthworm is your lawn’s new best friend.