A lush, green lawn looks great and provides a soft spot for kids and pets to play, but some homeowners worry about sustainability and want to manage their lawns in an eco-friendly way.

There are 2 ways you can be kind to the earth and maintain a healthy, grassy lawn:

Spread compost and organic fertilizer 

You won't have to use as much fertilizer if you give your lawn other forms of food. Compost is a great addition to the lawn soil whether you use your own compost, buy it in bags at the garden center or have a lawn service company apply it.

Before seeding or reseeding any grassy area of your property, get rid of the weeds and then use a metal rake to break up the soil. Work in the compost with the existing soil to add nutrients and help with water retention. 

When it's time to fertilize, find organic fertilizers at the garden center, or ask your lawn service to use organic lawn fertilizers when they treat your lawn. Organic lawn fertilizers are generally slow-release formulations that are less likely to leach out of the soil, so check the proper application rate before feeding the grass yourself. You'll normally need to use far less organic fertilizer and won't need to reapply it as often as you would when using standard fertilizers.

Practice phosphorus avoidance

Many lawn fertilizers contain large percentages of phosphorus, which is one of the three main "foods" for plants. But soils in many areas of the U.S. already contain enough phosphorus, so have your soil tested before the next lawn feeding. 

If your soil test reveals that you don't need phosphorus, ask your lawn technician or garden center about lawn fertilizers without phosphorus added. There's no sense in applying a substance your lawn doesn't need, and you'll help keep excess phosphorus out of the waterways where it can contribute to algae blooms.

Remember to cut back on fertilizing the lawn as the summer winds down into fall. Too much fertilizer after late summer can lead to winter damage in grass. Warm-weather grasses like centipede grass shouldn't be fertilized after August 15th.

If you're having a difficult time growing a healthy lawn, consider ripping out part of it and replacing the bare spots with landscaped beds of native plants. Shrubbery, grasses and trees that naturally grow in your region will require less water and fertilizer than non-native plants do. Berry and fruit plants feed local wildlife as well. You can have a smaller manicured lawn tucked into lush native plantings with less weeding, feeding and seeding chores with this yard-management plan. For more information, talk to a lawn fertilization service in your area.