What is in my soil?

Have you ever picked up a handful of garden soil and wondered what microorganisms are living in it? 

1 Teaspoon of good soil contains:

  • 10,000 to 100,000 cells of algae
  • 100 million to 1 billion bacteria
  • several yards of fungal hyphae
  • About 40 Nematodes: 20 bacteria eating nematodes+ 20 fungal feeding nematodes

1 Acre of good soil contains:

  • 2-3 million earthworms
  • 133 pounds of protozoa
  • 900 pounds of earthworms
  • 900 pounds of arthropods
  • 900 pounds of algae
  • 2000 pounds of bacteria
  • 2400 lbs of fungi

The amazing thing is that all these microorganisms and insects are all part of the soil food web and each play a unique role in the soil’s ecosystem. If things get out of balance you start having serious problems. Using inorganic fertilizers and herbicides can quickly offset that balance. Inorganic fertilizers have a very high salt content. The salt irritates the worms and can damage and kill off beneficial microbes. Once these guys are forced out of your lawn the soil becomes sterile.  The beneficial fungi and protozoa that eat the harmful fungi are not around and you start seeing fungus problems in the lawn. The beneficial bacterial slime that helps soil particles retain moisture and hold nutrients are gone. You start using more water and more fertilizers to make up for what is missing.

It’s fall, and that means it’s time for the all-important Fall Fertilization Application. Many experts go as far as to say that if you were to only fertilize your lawn once a year, fall would be THE time to do it. Why? Well, during this time of year, the changing weather and environmental conditions allow your grass to take the food you give it and turn into carbohydrates which the plant can store and use throughout the coming months. Your lawn’s summer had been about survival and top growth. Your lawn’s fall, though, is THE time to bulk-up, get healthy, get stronger roots, get ready for winter and early spring. Stronger, healthier roots mean a stronger and healthier grass plant overall. Healthier grass plants create a lawn better at handling attack from disease, weeds, cold, heat, and drought. When done right, a good fall fertilization can have positive effects on your yard all year long!

We’re excited to share this video that we received from @charitywater a few weeks ago. Last year, EcoLawn donated $20 to charity: water for every new person who signed up with us during our opening-season campaign. The results? Together, we were able to donate enough money to provide a clean water drinking well for 42 people in Ethiopia! Amazing! Let’s shoot for an even bigger contribution this year. Say, double last year’s contribution. Let’s make this happen!


Living in a mountainous desert state, it’s important to conserve water and resources, but that can make it difficult to have the yard of your dreams. There are some good solutions to balance a lush green yard and conservation, though, by incorporating native plants.

We live at an altitude of about 7000 ft. above sea level. That’s high! The mountains are amazing, the skiing is some of the best in the country, and the mountain biking is legendary! We really seem to have it all; from incredible snow in the winter to lush, green grass everywhere in the spring.

When I first came to Park City to look into the idea of buying a small lawn care business, all I saw was snow (ten feet of it) and couldn't even imagine that it would ever melt, or that there would be grass underneath. Then, I came out in the summer and was both pleasantly surprised and a little shocked.

I quickly learned that Utahans (like many other folks in the country) love their green lawns. People here want their lawns to have vibrant color, stay weed-free, and look picture perfect. What’s more, I have learned that the people in Utah seem to have higher expectations and less tolerance for imperfect lawns than people who live on the East Coast tend to have (where I lived and did lawn care previously).

This was a little surprising considering that we live in a mountain desert! What does that mean? We’re over a mile high in altitude which puts us close to the sun. Being closer to the sun means lawns get stressed out during the summer.

Living in a desert means that it does not typically rain in June or July or the first half of August. Where I used to live on the East Coast, it rains a lot and the soil can be amazing in some areas; you can throw a handful of grass seed out, let nature water it, and it just grows into a beautiful lawn on its own.

Here in Utah, though, you must have an in-ground sprinkler system that you check and maintain at least once a month to keep a lawn alive. Here you can water everyday and still get drought stress spots!

Utah, like most of the western US, seems to be in a constant state of drought. We’re not in as bad a situation as areas like Northern California, but things are bad enough to be concerning. I just read an article published in March 2017 that says that for the first time in six years (since 2011), Utah has just come out of the drought - but it won't last.

Amazingly enough, even with nature and the elements working against us, Utah is a beautiful, lush place and has some of the greenest grass I have ever seen. However, it does take a GREAT deal of work, effort, resources, and money to get those results. I know plenty of people who spend thousands of dollars a year to water their lawns.

Why spend so much? The benefits of lawns, grass, plants and landscape to a property’s value are proven. They can increase property value, improve the air and environment, and are beautiful and can even be healing. But is there a better, more affordable way to have a beautiful yard in Utah? Are there small steps that we can take before we sod, seed, or install that will pay off in the long run; a way you can use up fewer resources but also get the outdoor space you want?

As a lawn care expert and from what I have seen while living here, I think the answer is yes. There are some things that we can do to maintain a great property without using up so many resources.

One solution is to plant native and local plants and grasses. Because these plants essentially “grew up” here, they know how to survive here. They were made for this climate and use fewer resources. I have some clients who have installed huge sections of native grasses and they love it. They only mow it 2-3 times per summer! That means less-frequent use of gas powered mowers and trucks traveling to your property.

That’s much less energy consumption and impact. To add to that, instead of watering grass turf every other day for 40 minutes, you can water these native plants only once a week. And, instead of fertilizing 4-6 times per season, just one fertilization in the spring and one in the fall will keep it looking great.

Another solution is cutting back. Most people are just not willing to give up their lawn, and I don’t think they should have to. I love my lawn too! So go ahead and maintain that section of beautiful, perfect lawn where your family can play and friends can join you for a barbecue. But you might not need the entire expanse of your property to be turf grass.

Consider replacing some sections of grass with native grasses and plants. If you know that certain areas of your lawn just don’t grow Bluegrass well, these are prime places to try it out. I have seen many people who have figured this out and done it right. In fact, if planned properly, it will enhance your property. It brings in a real, natural, and outdoorsy feel - like the Utah landscape itself - instead of just a flat sea of high-maintenance green.

If you want to see something beautiful, plant some native grasses, let them grow out, and watch them moving in the wind. There’s nothing like it. And it’s easier than keeping a lawn.

If you need another idea for those areas where grass doesn’t grow well, you could rip it out and turn it into a firepit or gravel area. Make it a planter bed and fill it with native plants. Plant a garden or build a sandpit for the kids. Have fun with it! Don’t be afraid to change things and shake it up!

You know that strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street? Growing and maintaining pristine grass is really difficult in park (or curb) strips for several reasons. We replaced ours with river rock and it looks great and the maintenance is low. We do have to go through and spot spray the weeds that pop up during the summer months, but it takes less than 2 minutes a week.

The last thing I want to mention is my favorite consequence of replacing areas of grass with non-turf alternatives. It saves you a ton of time! With a good plan, using native grasses and plants can be low cost and require little time in outdoor maintenance. This gives you more time enjoying life and having fun at home rather than working on your lawn!

My purpose in writing this article is to inspire you to think differently about the outdoor space you have to maintain. Lawns are great, but make room for native grasses and plants, too. Save time, money, and resources for the things you actually want to do. Un-sterilize your property. Add life and diversity to it. Bring nature into it and it will become a unique and beautiful sanctuary for you.


You’re going to want to spend your summer enjoying your yard: barbecues, picnics, parties, gardening, running around with the kids, playing Frisbee with the dog.

It’ll all be here sooner than you think. And if you want to spend your summer days on a healthy, green lawn, you’ll need to get a good jump start in the spring. As your lawn begins the process of waking up from dormancy, it’s go time for us.

The Early Spring treatment is extremely important. We feed your lawn the nutrients it needs to shake off the winter and prepare for the Utah summer. And we do everything we can to keep weeds from germinating on your turf.

We’ll get you prepared for a great outdoor season! Get your free lawn quote here: https://ecolawnutah.com/heber-midway/join/

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  • Many lawn care companies misdiagnose your lawn problem which costs you more money

  • Finding the right lawn care company

  • Know some lawn care basics to avoid unnecessary costs / upsells

There is a wide number of problems your lawn could be experiencing ranging from major to minor, easy fixes. Unfortunately, though, there are a lot of people who are more than happy to make a problem out bigger than it actually is in order to get an upsell. If something seems off, you are entitled to get another quote. There are a number of common problems that are easy to treat.

One of the most common “ugly” practices that I see in the lawn care business is technicians and operators misdiagnosing lawn problems which can lead to a very (un)eco-friendly solution.

Here is the situation: You hire a local lawn fertilization company to come out and treat your lawn 5-6 times per season.

They come to do the treatment and (hopefully) are really paying attention to your property. They see a brown (or dead) spot in the lawn and they think one thing - cha ching…$$ ...upsell opportunity. They knock and tell you that you have grubs, billbugs, and a fungus problem and if you do not take care of it right away, you may risk losing your entire lawn (they use fear to sell).

The price is going to be 2 times your normal application price for each service. So, if your normal lawn visit for fertilizing and spraying weeds is $50 it will be $100 for the fungus and $100 for the insect control.

At this point you are so worried about your lawn that you sign up for anything they recommend to stop the problem and protect your lawn. They report to their office they had a $200 upsell today and they get their 10% commision. They then grab the fungicide and insecticide off the truck and cover the entire lawn (or they schedule to have someone else come back out shortly) with a product that will kill off all of the apparent nasty evil insects and fungi: It’s a win win and everyone is happy, right? Well not exactly…

Here are some of the problems with this common situation:

  • The diagnosis may have been incorrect.

  • You likely spent $200 you didn’t need to spend.

  • The impact of covering the entire lawn with insecticide and fungicide could be very negative.

  • Your lawn company could be motivating technicians to be mini salesmen who feel they need to upsell and earn a commission.

I am not suggesting that you should question everything your lawn company recommends, but you need to be educated enough so that if this situation happens (and it will) you can know enough to make a wise decision. Unfortunately, with over 20 years in this industry, I have seen this happen so many times that I cannot count.

For me, having a client spend money on something they do not need is wrong and bad business. Applying insecticide and fungicides when they are not needed or applying them in areas that do not need them is harmful to the environment and just not smart. This is a dirty practice that makes our industry look bad and needs to be stopped. I would like to provide a few tips and some useful information to help avoid these situations and clean things up a little bit.

Find the Right Service

If you are hiring a lawn company, good for you! It is a great thing to take pride in your home and your property and to make things look the best that you can. This does not excuse you from what they do on the property, though. Make sure to research the company that you hire. Look at their core values, go through their website, and make sure you can feel good about hiring them.

If you are only looking at the cost then the above situation will happen much more than you think. Be sure to ask questions like, are you mindful and smart with the applications? Are your technicians trained and experienced? Do you try to use the most eco-friendly products and solutions possible?

Know Some Lawn Basics

Learn a few things about the most common lawn problems in our area. You don’t need to become a lawn care expert, but having a little knowledge can help you immensely. Here are a few things I wish all lawn owners knew, so that they could recognize problems when they develop.

This may change depending on the region and type of soil and grass you have, but here are a few overall tips that may be helpful.

Dog Damage  

The green outer ring received less urine and is acting more like fertilizer, thus causing a dark green and rapid growth. It is also common to see the green ring around dog feces that have been left on the lawn for several days.

Again, this is related to the nutrients leaching into the soil. There is not a lot that can be done from a product standpoint. There are products on the market that you can feed your dog to neutralize their urine, but I would not recommend that. There are also some products you can spray on the spot as soon as your pet is done going to the bathroom, but they are tricky because you need to be out there right away.

Although there’s not much that can be done right now, they are testing some new products so I will be researching them.

Fungus Damage

Notice how irregular and bizarre these shapes are. Normally (here in Utah) you will see fungus damage show from early summer to early fall. There are many different types of lawn fungus so it helps to know which kind you have so that you can treat it with the correct product. Not all fungus are created and treated equal.

Drought or Dry spot

The lawn can become stressed from heat to drought. And here in Utah we are so high in elevation that it can be hard to keep a lawn from getting dry. If you see this, the first thing I would do is check all sprinkler heads and make sure you visually can see each area getting hit. You may need to increase your sprinkler time. There are also products like “Revive” and other organic soil conditioners that can help it bounce back.

There are quite a few different lawn problems but my goal here was to make you aware of a few of the most common ones and have you think before you just sign up for services. Over the years, I have been to many properties where someone saw one grub and they wanted the entire lawn treated.

The truth is, if you see a grub or a few it’s okay. There are all kinds of insects in your soil. It’s an ecosystem, they work together to keep things in balance and check. When you plaster insecticide across your lawn, you may be doing more damage than good in the long run. You may be killing thousands of beneficial insects. If you receive a diagnosis from a lawn care company be sure to check for the following:

  1. Make sure to have the correct diagnosis.

  2. Treat it correctly with the least amount of excess and impact.

  3. Weigh out all the options.

  4. Look for organic and eco-friendly solutions to these problems.


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