For many, preparing the lawn for summer enjoyment is a highlight of spring.

With anxious anticipation, gardeners spring forward to green-up their outdoor living spaces. Greening up the outdoors can also work toward creating another green: the environment.

By carefully choosing responsible alternatives to harmful pesticides and chemical use, you can enjoy a lawn that is healthy – and safe for the environment.

When we take a close look at responsible landscaping, more gardeners are choosing to eliminate harmful pesticides from their gardens.

By finding a balance within the elements: nutrient rich soil, optimum watering conditions, carefully chosen lawn seed and routine maintenance, you can achieve a healthy, green lawn while avoiding the use of harmful chemicals.

The first step is to add nutrients to the soil. Compost is naturally rich in nutrients, providing important additives for a healthy lawn and garden. Allow your lawn to breath naturally by aerating it once a year.

By removing small plugs of earth, you allow moisture and air to reach the roots of the grass. Patches of thatch should be removed by vigorously raking these areas. Think of the calories you will burn!

These thickened areas of compact grass will attract harmful insects as well as inhibit water and nutrients from reaching the roots of a lawn.

For a healthier lawn, add a layer of over-seed, early to mid-spring, to thicken the lawn and reduce weed growth. Start by raking a new layer of soil into your lawn. Then, apply a layer of grass seed appropriate for the location in your garden. (Lawn seed can be purchased for full sun, partial sun and shady areas of the lawn, along with seed for wet and dry areas.)

Gently rake the lawn seed into this layer of soil, and water regularly for the first three weeks to ensure germination. With any new lawn, fertilize using high-phosphorus fertilizer, until the new growth becomes established, and then continue with a natural lawn fertilizer appropriate for the season.

In keeping with the eco-friendly theme, try to manage pests and weeds the natural way.

By growing naturally, you will develop a tolerance for some weed growth and insects. Some insects can be beneficial and actually work to maintain harmony in the garden. So don’t be too quick to remove them.

Should insects become a real threat to your garden, look for safe solutions, good for the environment, such as a foliar neem oil for aphids. To minimize dandelions and crabgrass, try using a corn gluten product early in the spring. Pull weeds when the grass is wet, when they are easier to pull from the garden.

This spring, try gardening the natural way. The payoff of a natural, pesticide-free garden is always a garden that is safe for your whole family to enjoy. Pets, too, benefit from a garden that is cared for in an eco-friendly way.

And the benefit to the environment is priceless.