08/03/2011 10:04 am ET Updated Oct 03, 2011

Front Lawn Freedom

By Rodale Institute Executive Director, Mark "Coach" Smallwood

I'm a sports guy -- for 20 years I coached high school basketball, hence the nickname -- and I enjoy turf for many reasons. It's a place to play golf, baseball, football, or soccer, or to just run around and enjoy the great outdoors.

If kids and pets play on a lawn, it's especially important to make sure that the turf is organic so they're not exposed to the toxic chemical residues left behind by the products and service providers.

With a drought like the one hitting us hard in the Northeast, we're fielding a lot of questions on how to care for lawns without chemicals in these hot, dry conditions.

Here are some of my top tips for organic summer lawn care:

Get your lawn off drugs! Ditch the chemicals and your lawn will flourish. There may be a period of withdrawal, but you can remedy this with a ¼-inch topdressing of quality compost. If you have a weed problem, you can manually pull weeds (or get the kids outside to do it). A commercial vinegar-based herbicide like Burnout, manufactured by St. Gabriel's Lab, can be purchased in most garden centers. The vinegar is food grade and becomes food for the microbes in the soil.

For more lawn care tips from Coach, go to