For Homeowners

Photo: A garden stone path surrounded by flowerbeds. .

Photo credit: Richard A. McCoy Horticultural Services, Inc.

Making the transition to organic land care may seem intimidating or overwhelming to the average homeowner who maintains their own lawn and landscape. Many misconceptions exist about organic lawn and land care. Perhaps you have questions whether "that stuff really works" or perhaps you fear your yard turning into a hotbed of weeds and pests.

The information below is meant to give you an overview of different aspects of organic land care. Links to additional resources are given throughout the text for more in depth information on each topic.

Organic land care involves treating your landscape as a whole living system where the soil, plants, and animals within that system are interdependent and should sustain each other. This type of thinking is based in ecology, which is the study of the relationships that living organisms have with each other and the nonliving environment. As the steward of your home landscape, in an organic system your goal should be to "do no harm"; that is, to protect the ecological cycles in place on your property, as well as ensure your property does not negatively affect surrounding land uses.

When transitioning to an organic home landscape, the goal should be to create a healthy lawn and garden that are self-sustaining with few material or product inputs.

References:

Barnes, R. (1990). Fertile Soil: A Grower's Guide to Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers. Davis, California: agAccess.

Brady, N. C. (1974). The Nature and Properties of Soils. New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.

Grubinger, V. (Accessed: April, 2013). Sources of Nitrogen for Organic Farms. University of Vermont Extension. Retrieved from: http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/factsheets/organicN.html

Indyk, H., Murphy., J. A., & Strom, P. (1992). Minimizing Waste Disposal: Grass Clippings FS389. Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension.

Mangiafico, S. S., Obropta, C., Higgins, C., & Rossi-Griffin, E. (2012). Landscaping for Water Conservation E341. Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension.

Murphy, S., Gimenez, D., Muldowney, L. S., & Heckman, J. R. (March, 2012). Improving Soil Quality By Increasing Organic Matter Content FS 1137. Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension.

Murphy, J. A. (May, 1995). Turfgrass Seed Selection for Home Lawns FS684. Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension.

Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Organic Land Care Program. (2001). NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care. Stevenson, CT: Northeast Organic Farming Association Organic Land Care Program.

Pinto, D., & Melendez, M. (2010). Incorporating Native Plants in Your Residential Landscape FS1140. Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension.

Tukey, P. (2007). The Organic Lawn Care Manual. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, LLC.


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences