Maintaining an eco-friendly lawn free of chemicals and fertilizers may be easier than you think

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Have you heard about "No Mow May?" Many people are rethinking how they care for their yard by cutting back on lawn chemicals and fertilizers.

Consumer Reports has some easy strategies to improve the health of your lawn and make it safer for your family and the environment.

Susan Rubin has cultivated her chemical-free garden for 20 years.

"Got a little baby bok choy, some salad. And then I got some radishes coming up. So yeah, this is dinner," Rubin said.

And she knows a yard free of synthetic chemicals requires some strategy, and a bit of a holistic approach to improve the health of the soil and prevent pest outbreaks before they happen.

Consumer Reports says it's not as complicated as you might think. Let's start with your lawn.

"It may seem counterintuitive, but cut back on watering your lawn," said Catherine Roberts, Consumer Reports Health Editor. "Because watering less will encourage the grass to grow deeper roots, and develop resistance to drought."

Because watering at night can actually promote fungus, water only during the early morning.

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While it gets a bad rap, clover is especially good for your lawn. It adds nitrogen and keeps other lawn weeds at bay.

When it's time to mow, CR lawn care experts advise you keep the grass a little taller, about three or four inches. Keep the blades on your mower sharp and use the mulching mode, which will cut the grass into fine clippings and deposit them back into the soil.

Grass clippings actually contain many of the same nutrients found in chemical-based fertilizers.

CR says when it comes to planting your garden, embrace native plants.

"Native plants have evolved to thrive exactly where they are," Roberts said. "They'll attract local birds, and beneficial insects and pollinators."

Finally, if you have the space, add a compost pile or bin to recycle table scraps and garden waste. You'll be rewarded with nutrient-rich compost that your plants and lawn will love.

Consumer Reports reminds us to keep in mind that the needs of lawns vary widely, depending on climate, sun exposure, the types of soil and grass you have. Consider reaching out to a local cooperative extension service for advice more tailored to your lawn.

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