When chemical pesticide and herbicide use was banned in 2009, many people have wondered how to keep their lawns and gardens looking great by going organic.

Although the term” organic” seems a bit intimidating, organic gardening is really just what our grandparents were doing without the fancy title.

Lawns can be tricky to maintain in their carpet-looking perfection without chemical help. However, using simple steps, you can keep that green carpet looking great.

Just as you are already used to, use a fertilizer in spring and fall. Instead of choosing a petrochemical cocktail, choose one that is organic. They will be slower releasing and won’t burn your grass. Make sure you rake all the thatch out before fertilizing so the roots have air. Once a year, in the fall or spring, overseed your lawn with a drought tolerant grass seed, such as fescue. Cut your lawn fairly frequently with a good, sharp mulching mower, but not too short – that way, it won’t need such frequent watering. If weeds creep in, pull them out manually, or spot-kill them with plain household vinegar, or even boiling water.

Flower and vegetable gardens love compost. If you don’t already have a backyard composter, consider investing in some free fertilizer for your plants. There is nothing quite as good as this rich, dark soil for making flowers and veggies happy. If you add 4–6 inches of mulch, it will prevent any weeds from germinating. As a bonus, it will also cut down on your watering. If weeds still insist on invading your gardens, an old-fashioned hoe will take care of them if pulling isn’t an option. And weeds between paving stones quickly die with an application of white vinegar or boiling water as well. Make sure you choose a calm day or the wind will blow the vinegar into the garden and wilt your flowers.

From smelling only flowers and not pesticides and eating only your own fresh vegetables and no chemicals is the best reward for going organic in the garden.