is it too early to put down step 1 (cohasset/hull area)

dwyerkg(6 massachusetts)March 31, 2014

its starting to warm finally and my lawn was crabgrass galore last year. I just want to be sure I don't miss the boat. All comments appreciated.

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From the Scott's website:

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS: This pesticide is toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates and may adversely affect non-target plants. Drift and runoff may be hazardous to aquatic organisms in water adjacent to treated areas. To protect the environment, do not allow pesticide to enter or run off into storm drains, drainage ditches, gutters or surface waters. Applying this product in calm weather when rain is not predicted for the next 24 hours will help to ensure that wind or rain does not blow or wash pesticide off the treatment area. Sweeping any product that lands on a driveway, sidewalk, or street, back onto the treated area of the lawn will help to prevent run off to water bodies or drainage systems. This chemical has properties and characteristics associated with chemicals detected in groundwater. The use of this chemical in areas where soils are permeable, particularly where the water table is shallow, may result in groundwater contamination. Application around a cistern or well may result in contamination of drinking water or groundwater.

Are you sure you want to use this on your lawn?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:13AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Now that you've gotten one very earthy-crunchy, I eat tree-bark for breakfast answer, let me give you the real scoop. If your lawn is mostly crabgrass, then you need to start over. When means killing everything with RoundUp and reseeding or if money is no object then you can lay down sod. If you have just a few areas of crabgrass, then I would manually dig them out (there are tools for this), add a little soil and reseed those areas. If you are somewhere in between, then it's a judgment call. Using spot treatments of RoundUp followed by reseeding is an option. You can also use a pre-emergent herbicide (in the Step 1 fertilizer) that will prevent the crabgrass seed from germinating but it will also prevent any grass seed from germinating if you need to reseed. This effect can take many weeks to wear off. If reseeding is not an issue then I say go for the Step 1. A cheaper option is to buy the regular Scotts fertilizer in the green bag and buy a bottle of pre-emergent herbicide that you hook up to your garden hose and then you just spray it onto your lawn.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 1:25PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

If you get a ton of crabgrass every year, the grass is too thin. Crabgrass preventer will just allow something else to grow in that space, even if it is just a later seeding of crabgrass.

Around here, I would say approximately 10 out of 10 yards that are full of crabgrass are mowed much too short. Raise the mower blades, give the grass some fertilizer, and plan on doing some reseeding.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 1:46PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

OK, firstly you should know that the 4 step program is a marketing ploy to take the money from your pocket and put it into Scotts. Grass experts at university extension services will tell you that you only need to fertilize once, preferably in the Fall. I use Milorganite (5-2-0). It's organic and slow release. You can get 36 lbs for $13. Remember, even though stuff is organic, it's all still chemical regardless of the source. If you put too much fertilizer on your lawn, it will end up in run off that goes into streams and lakes causing algae bloom. Not a good thing.

Secondly, to answer your question, if you are putting down a pre-emergent crabgrass preventer you should do so before or during Forsythia bloom. The idea behind the pre-emergent is that it creates a barrier that prevents seeds from germinating in that area. Don't disturb that barrier by raking afterwards. It defeats the purpose. Don't overseed in that area because the seed won't germinate. If you need to overseed, use a different fertilizer that doesn't have crabgrass preventer in it.

BTW, you don't have to give a bunch of money to Scotts or use lot's of synthetic chemicals (some of which may be harmful to the people and pets who use your lawn) in order to have a nice grass lawn. Here's a link below that tells you how to do it. Improving your lawn's soil is the key. It's more work, but it does work and it's safe. This is not a commercial site trying to take more of your money.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 5:28PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I agree with Steve. It clearly has been a marketing ploy by Scott’s to sell more product. I believe that lawns can do without fertilizer at all. I’ve attached a photo of my own back lawn. Excuse the messy pots. This is the original lawn that was here when we moved in 30+ years ago. We’ve never fertilized it once. [g] It’s not a perfect lawn and it would benefit from a little organic fertilizer in the fall once in awhile and a little bit of hand weeding and reseeding some spring if we ever get the time. But I think it’s in pretty good shape and a good green color. And is very acceptable to me without resorting to spending time and money applying Scotts. You can see the clover in my lawn, which I appreciate having, because it’s said that the clover actually helps provide nitrogen for the lawn. And with the serious difficulties bees have been having in recent years, clover is great forage for them. We also set our mower high, especially in the heat.

Personally, I try to understand how what we do has a negative or a positive effect on the environment and try when possible, at the least, to do no harm. The harm done to waterways from run off of lawn fertilizers is well documented. And beyond that, I don’t want a product on my lawn that I have to be concerned about kids, pets, and the birds being exposed to. Especially if there is an alternative that is just as good if not better and just about as easy. What could be easier in my case, than doing nothing but mowing and watering in dry weather? [g]

Here is a link that might be useful: Lawn care chemicals: How Toxic Are they?

This post was edited by prairiemoon2 on Tue, Apr 1, 14 at 21:45

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 6:58PM
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I'd rather eat tree bark than have clowns running around killing entire lawns with round-up.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:13PM
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You did say all comments appreciated...

I originally moved here when I was 12. I'm over 65 now. The lawn looked like this when I was 12 altho' my father made me & my brothers dig dandelions every spring. No one ever put down a chemical to either improve the lawn or kill weeds--my parents embraced organic gardening even as long ago as 1960. Every spring there are thousands of snowdrops, puschkinia, crocus & grape hyacinth bulbs that bloom right up through the grass. Sometimes the lawn appears blue or else multi-colored thanks to those.

I designed these garden beds in recent years but the lawn was here when I moved back home in 2005.

Just some visual evidence that Scott's is likely more devoted to revenue than green lawns.

dwyerkg: If you listen only to Scott's when it comes to gardening, chances are you'll not only be disappointed, you'll be deprived of how amazed & gratified you'd be if you explored other growing methodologies. Better living through chemistry is nothing more than a marketing slogan.

BTW - zoning where I live restricts gardens to no less than a full acre.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:57PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I agree totally with mad that a thick lawn will prevent weeds from popping up but you have to get it that way first. I also agree about raising the height of the mower blade. It helps to shade the ground which also prevents weeds from popping up. It also helps to retain moisture.

A lot of what you need to do depends on what type of grass you have in the lawn. If you have Kentucky Bluegrass, it is a heavy-feeder and drinker. You need to fertilize that type of grass in the Spring and in the Fall when it is actively growing. As a rule of thumb, when your lawn is actively growing, it needs to be fertilized. I do agree with Steve in that the better your soil, the better the lawn but that's not always easy especially if you live near the coast like I do where the soil is sandy and infertile.

Keep in mind that a really nice lawn is a lot of work. The question is do you want to put in that level of work. If you do then I'll show you some pictures of my lawn that was produced through Scotts fertilizer. To be fair, these pics are from several years ago when I still had a young back that wasn't acting up. The last few years, my lawn still looks good but nothing like when I was able to stay on top of it. My best compliment then was when kids would come running through my yard on the way to the door on Halloween to go trick-or-treating. Every single one of them would stop in the middle of the yard in awe of how the grass felt underneath them. It was like a cushion. They would come up to the door and say, "I really like your grass". I have Kentucky Bluegrass which as I said is a heavy feeder. I fertilize with the basic Scotts fertilizer (and I've tried several brands) in the Spring and in the Fall. I also add lime to keep the pH neutral and occasionally I add a starter fertilizer to add potassium and phosphorus back to the soil since it tends to get depleted. I try to hand weed when I can. I rarely have to reseed since small spots of dirt will fill in quickly when the lawn is actively growing. I dethatch once a year and if I have time, I will also aerate the lawn. Since the neighbors don't necessarily worry about their lawns, it's inevitable that weeds such as dandelions will work their way into your lawn like they do mine. I will nuke them with one of those nasty "chemicals" that do a great job taking them out selectively.

In spite of what you're hearing in this thread, the earth would not be able to feed itself and you would never see the lush lawns in sporting events, etc without modern technology like those nasty, evil "chemicals" referred to by the earthnuts here.

Behold a lawn on Scotts fertilizer (and these are not my best pics!). Note that the yellowish-color in the first couple of pics is from bad exposure in bright sun and not the grass. The last couple of pics show the actual color of the grass.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 7:14AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

To each his own, Oracle. I remove more and more grass each year from my yard. My goal is to get to the point where I have little enough grass to be able to mow it with my little Fiskars reel mower. Basically my grass is the paths between my garden beds with a couple of small areas for recreation. While I think your lawn is impressive in terms of the amount of work it takes, I no longer think this is attractive. I think it's wasteful in terms of both effort and resources.

I don't like dandelions either. But when you use 2-4D the label tells you not to walk on the lawn for 24 hours after application, or to apply nears streams, marshes or wetlands, and to sweep up the particles that are on the walkways so they don't get in the runoff. How many people do you think don't read these restrictions on the labels? Most of them probably.

I'm not opposed to someone using a synthetic chemical according to directions and/or when there isn't another way to get the same result more safely and responsibly. I'm sure most people feel the same way. But these days a gardener can almost always get the same results using safer and more responsible methods. Sometimes it's more expensive. Sometimes it's more work, but it can be done.

Here's my dandelion weapon of choice. It's a little more work to do this, but I enjoy it and I can walk on my lawn while the dandelions are being killed. To each his own.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 8:03AM
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persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

....All of this name calling from someone disguises their identity on the internet as "tree_oracle".

The best methods I've discovered for removing problem areas of lawn (i.e. weedy areas) is:
1. throw down a layer of half done or full done compost near end of summer.
2. cover with cardboard and secure to the earth (cover the cardboard with more soil, or I lay rocks onto the cardboard). Use cardboard without synthetic/chemical inks.
3. If by next spring the cardboard hasn't disintegrated completely, dig a hole in the middle of the section and plant a vigorous annual. Sunflowers, veggies, what ever you think will look good in the spot.
4. when in dies in the fall, clear the spot and plant grass seed.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 9:22AM
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dwyerkg(6 massachusetts)

Thanks for the input/feedback ecept for the Euell Gibbons crowd. I just want to clarify a few things. I never buy Scotts, I am a fan of Lesco with Dimension. Last year I moved into the new house and had zero time for the yarduntil last fall. I thatched, core areated and reseeded. My lawn was in decent shape mostly except for crabgrass in a few places and where the beach sand acumulated. I want to put down the fert. this weekend but in the past i waited for the forsythia to bloom. Is anyone else putting it down this early?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 12:40PM
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If you only want comments from people who agree with you, you shouldn't write "All Comments Appreciated". I just asked you why you wanted to use a product that is toxic to fish and is known to contaminate groundwater. I didn't call you names.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 1:20PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

Dwyerkg, why not check with a local extension service or at a trusted garden center for timing advice relative to your area? And... do you have neighbors who "grow" weeds that creep into your lawn? (I ask because we do.) This can become an annual headache.

To all of you.... thanks. I'm late to this thread, which I've shown to my DH who likes the look of a lawn but no longer has the energy to do continual maintenance ... despite the fact that we do have the time because we are both retired!

Of primary importance to us is the fact that we live in a wetlands area along a tidal river which meanders down to Long Island Sound. We don't want to tamper with or damage the land and water around us. So the opinions here and links will be helpful to his lawn care program.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 3:37PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

This has been an eye opening thread, because I was not aware there were so many people on this forum who are environmentally conscious. I love that! And I noticed that despite their objection to the practice of over-fertilizing and using herbicides on the lawn, everyone who is respectful of the environment seems to be respectful of people too.

I don’t know if anyone saw the story on the news yesterday about a new UN report from a leading body of climate scientists? They are warning of dire consequences from climate change and extreme weather and the likelihood that populated parts of the planet could be rendered uninhabitable, and that “we would see extensive changes in agriculture.” Link below, from the NY Times.

So with record crop failures and ranchers that are also being effected by drought, meat prices are going to soar along with corn, wheat, eggs, and vegetable prices.

So, the last thing I’m focused on is my lawn. I’m giving up some of our lawn to double the size of our vegetable garden this season.

Here is a link that might be useful: Panel's Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet To Come

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 5:21PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

"...In spite of what you're hearing in this thread, the earth would not be able to feed itself and you would never see the lush lawns in sporting events, etc without modern technology like those nasty, evil "chemicals" referred to by the earthnuts here. ..."

Of course. We all know that for thousands and thousands of years before chemicals the earth could not feed itself. It's amazing the human race held on long enough to be saved by chemicals. And we all also know that grass is a 20th-century invention, having apparently not been around before chemicals.

I don't know how those old-time football, baseball, tennis players, etc., ever played a game without a lush lawn. Sports must have sucked back then.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 7:47PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Tree oracle, I've heard lawn called the "green desert". Add pesticides to the mix and you have a toxic green desert. Add the precious resources like fuel and water required to support that toxic green desert, and you have insanity IMO.

Last year my neighbor decided to do the Scott's program. He was out there about 5 times over the course of the season, putting down herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers. For some reason he always managed to time it before a dry spell so that crap sat there for 2 weeks afterward. The smell was so bad there were days when the wind shifted in my direction that I could not be outside. He drove me nuts!

I remember quite distinctly that he put down a heavy application on JULY 3RD. Right before a baking dry heat wave. Does Scott's really instruct people to do put down fertilizer or herbicide in the middle of the summer when northern turf grasses go dormant? If so they are a bunch of idiots!

While my neighbor might have hoped for a perfect emerald lawn, what he really managed to do was burn out much of the grass in full sun and create dead spots all over his lawn where nothing was growing. Normally those spots would fill in with crab grass, a heat loving annual. But instead he had bare ground which is a big problem with residential landscapes because it is subject to erosion and the topsoil is considered water pollution.

I'm expecting he will probably "Seed it" this year to try and fill in the holes and send more money Scott's way. Yes, it's marketing hype.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 8:08PM
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diggerdee -- thanks for that post!! Does make you wonder, doesn't it?

terrene - I'm sorry you suffered with your neighbor's insanity. I'm SO fortunate to have like-minded gardening neighbors.

Q: As a rule of thumb, when your lawn is actively growing, it needs to be fertilized.

Do I hear a Scott's advertisement in that sentence?

tree_oracle -- With no intention to argue, confront or debate or refute, I am curious how that statement can be true when my lawn is equally green each season with zero fertilizer application, either chemical or organic. It's been 50+ years since the lawn in my garden has returned each Spring, grown and needed mowing throughout the warm season. (Ask my neighbor who mows it for me.)

Granted, my parents practiced organic gardening here for most of those years so the soil is acidic sandy loam. Everywhere I dig there are fat, healthy worms. Are there weeds in the lawn? Sure. Do I care? Not so much.

In spite of what you're hearing in this thread, the earth would not be able to feed itself and you would never see the lush lawns in sporting events, etc without modern technology like those nasty, evil "chemicals" referred to by the earthnuts here...

My personal choice is to follow my parents' example & eliminate chemicals since science has shown them to harm the environment, natural resources, animal & insect populations, pollute streams, rivers &, eventually, the ocean. It's a personal choice and you're wholly entitled to choose how you garden just as I am. I choose not to brand you with derogatory labels for selecting a path that doesn't march with my own.

While refraining from engaging in argument, it occurs to me to wonder how the photos posted above by tree_oracle would differ without the application of Scott's chemical products.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 9:07PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Lush lawns in sporting events. OMGosh, think about the water being used on golf courses all over the country and the amount of fertilizers and herbicides. In Hawaii, coastal pollution was traced to fertilizer runoff from a nearby golf course. The problems with Long Island NY golf courses have triggered an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the results have been published. And the worst problem from golf courses, is in Japan where they used to have only 72 golf courses in 1956 and now there are a total of 1700 golf courses in operation and another 1300 in the planning or construction phase. Developers clear cut forests and use bulldozers to level hilltops and fill in valleys. Japan is only roughly the size of California, so it’s hard to imagine that many golf courses in that space and the damage being done. And that’s just ONE sport.

How much difference is there between what is being done on a golf course, and what some homeowners are doing to their own property?

Terrene, I can’t even walk into the gardening department at big box stores or Target, or nurseries who store huge stock of lawn products without holding my breath and walking through as quickly as possible. I can’t imagine having to stay in my house to breathe because of a neighbor’s use of these products.

I sincerely don’t understand how anyone with kids would not have pause when they read the directions on the package, to keep away from kids, wear a mask, wear goggles, wear long pants, long sleeve shirts before applying. Or to think about what kind of a world they will live in when they grow up.

Here is a link that might be useful: Toxic Fairways

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 9:34PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

dwyerkg, I would like to apologize to you. I was rather snarky, but it was not at all directed to you personally. I have to be honest and say that I can't bring myself yet to edit or delete my above post because I feel the comment I referenced needed a rebuttal, but I do feel bad that your question became a battleground.

I'm sorry your question seemed to be so divisive, and I do hope you find an answer somewhere that you can use, although I will also add that I do hope you will at least look into other options.

Again, my apologies for anything I may have added to this debate that may have seemed directed at you or offended or upset you. Please trust me, that was not my intention. And I do hope this one thread won't deter you from posting again. Lots of great experience here, along with the passionate opinions!


    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 10:00PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Wow, you guys have really been overdoing it on the Kool-Aid! I imagine several of you have been smoking your own version of grass from time to time, too.

Just to refresh your memories. I am a chemist. I have forgotten more about chemicals than any of you will ever know. I am particularly familiar with the health hazards associated with some of them. Never once have I said that I favor the irresponsible use of chemicals. Anyone applying chemicals in too large a quantity, at the wrong time, or any other inappropriate way is committing a crime against nature and possibly a crime in the legal sense. I'm with you guys 100% on that. But you guys take this to such a touch-feely extreme that your viewpoint becomes a farce. In your mind, anything that smells like your definition of a chemical is evil and very bad. You guys are using words like "dead", "desert", "toxic" that honestly throws your credibility out the window. My lawn is a living, breathing entity that by the way sequesters a substantial amount of carbon dioxide if you want to address global warming. I have big, fat worms in my lawn, too as well as many other little critters. I also see deer, skunks, fox, snakes, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, coyotes, turkeys, rabbits, on a regular basis on my "toxic" property. They other thing that you're missing is that my moniker is not lawn_oracle. Trees are my thing and I've planted quite a few on my property as well as quite a few shrubs and perennials. All of it together makes quite the ecosystem just like golf courses do.

I'm also a big fan of compost and use it when I can. It's not that I'm against organic methods. I just think that it needs to be balanced with modern technology. Anyone who thinks that we could feed the population of the planet as it stands today using the farming methods of yesteryear is ignorant and needs to get up to speed on reality.

When I read about how you can smell the toxic chemicals months after they've been applied to your neighbors lawn, I just roll my eyes and laugh. Mother Nature is extremely good at breaking these chemicals down. They DO NOT persist in the environment for any great length of time. You guys read too many news stories about chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls that do persist in the environment. That behavior however is not the norm.

The concern voiced in this thread about environmental destruction is valid but aimed in the wrong place. Right now, there are chemical plants in China that supply starting materials and intermediates to various businesses around the world. The processes used to make these chemicals produce waste that is loaded onto tanker trucks to be driven to processing facilities that are supposed to dispose of this waste properly. Some of these truck drivers are driving to the nearest river and dumping thousands of gallons of extremely toxic waste into the environment. The stuff that is being sold to treat your lawn may smell toxic to you but in reality it is quite benign to you and the environment in almost every case. The stuff being dumped into the rivers is not. That is where you should direct your outrage. Letting factories pollute the atmosphere with millions of tons of acidic, ozone-depleting, or smog-producing chemicals is where you should direct your outrage.

There's also a great deal of hypocrisy being demonstrated by most of you (a typical liberal trait BTW). You claim to care so much about the environment but scream the loudest against the Cape Wind project that would help generate a substantial amount of clean energy.

Before any of you go on any more rants about chemicals, remember that water itself is a chemical. Water will kill you if you drink too much of it. Anything is toxic in the right dose. If any of you smelled acetone, it would smell like one of your evil chemicals but it's actually a naturally-occurring substance in your body.

More than anything else, your touch-feely viewpoints are going to turn off a lot of newbies to the joys of gardening and that is what I find to be most disgusting. Someone comes on here to ask a simple question about fertilizer and they're being told that they have to put cardboard and newspaper all over their lawn and if it hasn't decomposed after several months, then they should plant a flower in the middle of it. Are you serious! Some of your homes must look like Sanford and Son.

Oh and before I forget, dwyerkg, I would say that your method of putting down pre-emergents as the forsythias bloom is a good rule-of-thumb as Steve pointed out. I would do that again this year. If you fertilize too early, it won't get used because the lawn isn't actively growing yet.

Interesting weapon you have there, Steve. I would tend to do the same if I had just a few dozen dandelions but I literally have hundreds that can pop up in some years. I've got too many other things to do to spend that much time on dandelions. If you have any other weapons of choice, then by all means post them. I'm always looking for new gizmos.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 8:11AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Tree Oracle, you have something to contribute to the forum. I’ve enjoyed some of our conversations and your posts. The thread on blueberries and learning that you planted so many blueberry bushes in your yard and were so excited about them, made me smile. Your kidding people about their lack of New England grit every winter, is actually kind of funny.

On the other hand, you can be….I don’t know what to call it….argumentative? …disrespectful? I don’t know if you actually do feel that you’re entitled to address people by calling them names and suggest they’re smoking grass, their opinions are a farce and they’re hypocrites …. or if you just like to say things to get a reaction from people, or what. I don’t see why you can’t disagree with respect. I’m happy to hear any point of view you choose to share and discuss it, but I think everyone here on the forum doesn’t need to be insulted.

And one of the reasons that I think you plan what you have to say just to get a reaction, is that you withheld stating your opinion…. that you do view inappropriate chemical use a crime against nature, that you are a fan of compost, that you aren’t against organic methods….You waited until there was a lot of heated discussion about the subject to share that. You could have said that many posts ago and the conversation would have taken a different tone. So maybe you actually do just enjoy stirring the pot.

I hadn’t forgotten that you are a chemist and I agree 100% that you know more about chemicals than I do, but that doesn’t mean that others without your specialized knowledge don’t know enough about it to have an opinion. It also doesn’t mean that you are right in every opinion you have on the subject, regardless of the depth of knowledge you have, and sometimes because of it.

But the majority of the population doesn’t have to have your detailed knowledge about chemicals to understand where harm is being done and to attempt to respond appropriately to it. It doesn’t take a chemist to watch the news and understand the harm that is being done to the earth every single day of the year. And who is doing the harm to the environment….all those educated people with specialized knowledge who think they know all there is to know about everything and that they are entitled to make decisions that effect the rest of the population and the earth itself. They ‘think’ they know, then they find out….oops, they didn’t know as much as there was to know and now they’ve made a big problem for everyone.

I don’t agree with you in any way, that the world needs to balance organic methods with modern technology. As a matter of fact, often I think the two ideas are opposed to each other. And you think that we are feeding the population of the planet with modern methods, but it remains short sighted, because if modern methods….for instance GMO seeds….are supposed to be new technology yet if they completely ruin natural seed supplies ….we could actually lose the ability to grow certain foods. Corn seed could become extinct if it was left up to Monsanto and if it weren't for other more concerned, touchy feely types who are trying to save unadulterated seed supplies. A company that actually does act in an evil way, trying to get a bill through Congress to actually hand over control of the food supply to that company, among other things. And that is just one instance. What about all the bees that are dying? Is that not modern technology causing damage to nature?

You suggest golf courses are not a problem because they use pesticides, herbicides, fungicides…because animals still frequent them. That doesn’t answer the charge that runoff from these products is getting into the ground water. What the heck good is it that animals are not instantly dropping dead from poison if the leaching of the products are getting away from that property and causing problems somewhere else? Unless you are actually going to argue that it’s not happening?

And what about Fracking? Another wonder of modern technology.

And your reason for suggesting that people are hypocrites because they are against the Cape Wind project, is just more of you thinking your opinion is the only right one. HOW the environment is protected and salvaged is something there is a lot of disagreement about. And how do you know that inserting windmills in the bed of the ocean is not going to do damage in some unexpected way? You don’t.

My bottom line opinion is that it boils down to God made vs. man made. Man seems to think he knows better than God and in his ignorance thinks because he has a little knowledge he can run things and clearly he can’t.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 11:39AM
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dwyerkg(6 massachusetts)

Wow, I didnt think 12 lbs of fertilizer would cause such a stir. :)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 12:38PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Tree oracle, your message is also compromised by your apparent assumptions and biases. Personally, I may be no more than a humble citizen scientist but worked for years in computers and real estate (landlord and property manager), and been single head of household for 20 years. I am a very practical person.

When I read about how you can smell the toxic chemicals months after they've been applied to your neighbors lawn, I just roll my eyes and laugh.

Absolutely I smelled them, especially during an extended heat wave in mid July without any rain. But who said anything about months later? I've also smelled the pesticides that the farmers used to put down in the agricultural fields across the street. (And the cow manure too). Well, after complaints from multiple neighbors, those fields are now largely organic, have partly been used for crops and partly livestock projects for 5 years now, and with only a small amount of petroleum fertilizers applied to corn (that I've observed).

Btw, the green desert refers not to a dead environment, but the fact that is supports a relatively small number of species. My yard with a mixed lawn, multiple levels of vegetation (largely easter north american natives), leaf litter, dead wood, etc. provides resources for many more species than your lawn and specimen trees. And the toxic part has to do with the pesticides (designed to kill something).

There's also a great deal of hypocrisy being demonstrated by most of you (a typical liberal trait BTW). You claim to care so much about the environment but scream the loudest against the Cape Wind project that would help generate a substantial amount of clean energy.

I agree and Ted Kennedy lost my longtime support partly for this reason. But you can make that point without petty insults.

This post was edited by terrene on Wed, Apr 2, 14 at 13:52

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 12:49PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Dwyer, lol, nice to see you aren't too annoyed about the sidetrack on your thread. I wouldn't fertilize my lawn yet, because the ground is just thawing and draining right now. The grass hasn't really started growing (roots probably are though). The other day I did some overseeding with grass seed and clover seed before the rain.

I've only ever spread compost and lime on the lawns, usually on an annual basis, as well as mulch clippings back into the lawn. We have a municipal compost site, so there is virtually an unlimited quantity available for free.

Here's a couple pics comparing my lawn and the next-door neighbor's lawn, the Scott's Step guy. These pics were taken last August at the same time. As I recall, August was quite dry last summer.

My front yard - partly shady, no irrigation used, flanked by 2 large maples so the grass struggles here in the foreground.

My neighbor's front lawn, from the sidewalk (that is my yard just past his meat ball shrubbery). He used the Scott's step program last year, also does not irrigate. His front yard is a bit more sunny, and he also has 2 large maples. His grass is REALLY struggling here, and this is why I predict he will be doing the "Seed it" program this year.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 1:38PM
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dwyerpg - I apologize if some of us have unintentionally "hijacked" your thread. For my part, it wasn't premeditated but was intended, rather, in hopes of offering garden information based on experience. With gardening, there's never just one answer to a question (as I'm guessing you're now very well aware) as there are widely varying approaches to solving problems.

The above posts verify there are gardeners who prefer to consider solutions less harmful to the earth than others. It isn't for me to judge which are right or wrong--I can only offer information along with visual evidence based on my many years as a gardener.

My garden is beautiful to my eyes. It isn't perfect; I don't expect it to be. All I ask of my garden is that it be the best it can be given the soil, moisture & nutrients that Nature provides. I don't expect it to perform on demand, either on my own expectations or those imposed by chemicals.

If you choose to apply chemicals, it's your choice. The above posts merely caution what can be the result of that choice. I stand behind my parents' long-ago choice and don't use chemicals.

I wish you a healthy garden whatever path you take to achieve it.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:13PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I’m not sure I need to apologize or not. Really, I would love to see more discussion of this subject that actually led to a meeting of the minds and positive change, but this kind of heated discussion is not likely to do that. So for whatever part I had in escalating it, I do apologize.

Tree Oracle, I actually appreciate the fact that you took the time to explain your position. It is helpful to try to understand where you are coming from. Without the extras that came along with it, I would have spent more time responding to the actual meat of your comments.

I don’t disagree with you that there is worse environmental destruction going on in the world, like the example you made about China. Where I am coming from, is there doesn’t seem much we can do about what China does and that goes for large American companies who dump toxins into waterways, etc. I used to expect the government was going to respond appropriately and the EPA was actually going to protect the environment but I don’t see that happening. So, it then becomes the only thing you can do, is to do something about yourself and your little postage stamp of the world which would include your garden and property. So the choices of whether to use organic methods of gardening or not become one way to make a difference.

And one further comment you made, that you feel the viewpoints of organic gardeners may turn off newbies to the ‘joys of gardening’. I see a lot of new gardeners starting off with the idea of using organic methods. I also think that if you are advising people to buy bags and bags of smelly, expensive synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that they have to apply with goggles, masks, long sleeves etc., I guess I’m missing where the joy in that is. I have a tremendous amount of happiness working in my organic garden. I love seeing birds and bees finding a haven on my property. I get a lot of satisfaction out of being in tune with nature and not working against her. And I have a lot of success with my gardening efforts and very few issues with pests and disease that are often very manageable.

That's all I have to say. Spring has sprung in my garden and time to get out there and get something done. Hope everyone else has time to do some of that today too!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 8:47AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)


Your neighbor forgot one key issue. You have to have grass in order for the fertilizer to do anything. That doesn't even qualify as a lawn. It may be the worst situation I've ever seen. The dirt looks like hardpan which is yet another problem and there's a substantial amount of shade in that yard that is going to be extremely difficult to overcome. He needs several different varieties of grass to even have a chance at being successful. His task at hand will take multiple months at best and maybe multiple years. He's going to have to trim the lower hanging branches of the maples to allow a little more sunlight into the yard. I would suggest landscaping around the maples with shade-loving perennials but even that is going to be a challenge with the thick mat of roots that maples put out. He's got some serious work ahead of him.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 9:22AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Tree, he DID have more grass before using the Scott's program. My point was, without proper application of the fert/pesticides (as I said above he put a heavy application of something on July 3rd), and without IRRIGATION, northern turf grasses will not survive in the blazing full sun or with severe competition from water-hogging and allelopathic maples like Silver and Norway. They will brown out and even burn out during a summer drought. And the improper application of chemicals will cause additional burnout.

Plus, that neighbor has been putting stuff down on the lawn for YEARS (just last year it was Scotts). He basically has no clue what he's doing.

Btw, it has taken me years of topdressing with compost and liming and using a moss killer called "Moss-Aside" (fatty acids or something) to make my front lawn look half decent in the pic above. That is where the leach field and D-box are - the previous owner had to have those replaced before I moved in. Most of the "lawn" was a freshly seeded pile of sand.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 9:55AM
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One small suggestion to the OP - have your soil tested. You will then know what nutrients you need to get grass or anything else growing. Good Luck.

Interesting thread. There is one aspect that hasn't been mentioned. Sometimes there is a kind of "competition" in neighborhoods as to who has the best lawn. In many cases, it is interpreted as neglect if you don't keep up with chemicals and a quick fix. It takes years to improve the soil. We downsized to a very small lot in a "fish bowl" community. Each year I increase my gardens to diminish turf, but I'm the exception - not the rule. Most of my neighbors have a 6 step program, not 4! LOL

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 5:04AM
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dwyerkg(6 massachusetts)

I have no competition for grass. I am the only one around who hasnt made a concrete parking lot. My lawn also slopes and drains away from any water area. I was told my house used to be a farm house back when it was built in the 1800's. The pre-emergent chemical I am using Dithiopyr (Trade name dimension) does not move much after it has been spread, so there is no leaching or negative impact on the environment. Plus I take great care when I put down any chemicals.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 8:01AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Beautiful house and area. Make sure you water it in well after application so that the pre-emergent gets to soil and off of the vegetation. See below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Colorado State extension - Pre-emergents

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 10:55AM
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I'm a town over from you in Hingham, and I was advised by my landscaper to wait until the forsythia bloom to apply the pre emergent.

I will be using Scotts (insert dramatic gasp) Step 1 at first and then switching over to milorgranite for the remainder of the season doing applications on all patriotic holidays (memorial, 4th, labor, Columbus)

Our street was riddled with crabgrass last year and I managed to survive the worst of it but I think a little pre emergent will go a long way in protecting it for this season. Without chemicals your only options with crabgrass is wait 5 years or replace the whole damn lawn.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 11:25PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


Those are not the only two options. Overseeding will work with crabgrass prevention also. Here's the procedure. 1. In early Fall, cut the grass with a grass catcher as low as you can get it. 2. Aerate with a hole plugger machine. 3. Put down a 1/2 inch of compost or in my case composted cow manure from the local farm. 4. Overseed the area.

Here's the original information.


Here is a link that might be useful: Paul Tukey from Safe

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 9:36AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)


How do you propose spreading compost 1/2" thick on a half acre of lawn or larger? Note: I would like a direct answer to my question rather than the "I would reduce the size of my lawn" answer.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 3:21PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

There are two methods. You could use a rotary spreader with well aged compost. It will take some time, but it's not that difficult. The method I used was to put small piles of compost on the lawn about 3 or 4 feet apart and rake it in. Yes, it's a bit of work, but it gets the job done. Oftentimes, more organic methods are more work or more expensive, but they work well and are safe for children and pets.

Take a look at the video below.


Oracle, I forgot to say that I didn't do my entire lawn at one time. I did the area that had the most crabgrass problem last Fall and will top dress another section this Spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: Top Dressing with Compost

This post was edited by steve_mass on Wed, Apr 9, 14 at 17:28

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 5:23PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)


While I appreciate your response, your answers were exactly what I expected you to say. I don't think a compost spreader for the average homeowner has been invented yet. Using a drop or rotary spreader in my experience is a futile endeavor. Compost is usually much too moist for a spreader to work properly. Throwing piles on the lawn and spreading them out manually is really the only option and I don't find this to be much of an option for someone with a large lawn. The other problem is that a 1/2" layer of compost over 1/3 to 1/2 an acre of lawn equals a very large amount of compost which most people don't have available to them without substantial cost. While some people like myself are willing to go to the local dump and pick up some compost, the average homeowner is not willing to spend the money or effort to use compost and would rather go buy a bag of fertilizer from Lowe's.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 9:22PM
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persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

From a Buddhist perspective, the act of purchasing--voting with the dollar--a product that is toxically produced and shipped to its desired location is ethically and morally wrong. It is against the interconnectedness of beings, as the destruction of one habitat is also a destruction of the extended self. From a Jesuit-Catholic perspective, Genesis dictates that all Earthly creations are impoverished of their own, independent nature (they are /of/ God) and are sacramental (they provide a vessel for us to experience God). By mistreating or misguiding our efforts in the natural world, we are misguiding our efforts to respect God as it exists in all things.

Religious theory aside;

As a geologist, I have an academic bias towards the use of any chemical fertilizer, especially in coastal habitats like southeastern MA. Because Rehoboth/Seekonk are part of the Ten Mile sub-watershed, my groundwater's "drainage path" to the ocean is through the Narragansett basin. Any and all pollution that enters the groundwater table in the Rehoboth/Seekonk area WILL OVER TIME flow to its final destination.

Parameters that impede the flow of pollutants are typically Darcy's Law parameters: the density of the chemical, the nature/likelihood of the chemical to adsorb (chemically 'stick') to rock particles, the porosity of the aquifer through which the water is flows, the amount of water flowing through the aquifer, and the relief/topography of the watertable as a whole.

Flatter, more coastal areas will see pollutants slowly bloom and spread over time. There is less gravitational potential 'flowing' water downstream to the ocean, and therefore less energy to disperse pollutants. In some areas with typically sandier soil, high porosity can lead to extremely fast chemical/pollutant leaching from the area.

Especially at risk to water pollution are those on Cape, where the groundwater is focused into fresh water 'lenses' due to salt water intrusion of the watertable. The freshwater rain that falls onto the Cape is the only way for the watertable to recharge itself. Research conducted at the MMR at the bicep of the Cape has shown that pollutants deposited here from the military as earlier as 40 years ago are still leaching through the groundwater, and are toxifying the deep-earth environment of the region. Even scarier, underground glacial flow channels carved from the region approx. 14-12,000 years ago have become "high ways", regions of increased flow potential, for these pollutants to be directed to Buzzards Bay and the Sounds. After studying the estuarine and coastal hydrophysics which actively shape our coastline, I've come to realize that pollutant in the water table all drain, eventually, to one place. And that's the estuary at the mouth of your watershed. Through processes like eutrophication (in my opinion one of the milder consequences of pollution), estuarine grass and sea-weed organisms cannot survive. Because their main function in an estuary is to collect and trap sediments, essentially building out the estuary and protecting the coastline from sever coastal storms, the destruction of these organisms by human pollution WILL cause the landward migration of sand bars, "outer banks", and the ocean front. We saw the effects of this in New Jersey on the Shore. We are beginning to see the effects of this on the South shore of Cape Cod, an area that is NOT environmentally protected by the national government.

When chemicals are applied to the lawn properly, and at the right time, the plants that are supposed to be fertilized will act on the chemicals to grow. But what sorts of pollution issues does this cause across the globe? Minerals are being extracted from locations across the globe in order to synthesize the chemical fertilizer that you're desiring to put into your lawn. Minerals, that, without the pollution of fossil fuels, you wouldn't have in your area or at your immediate disposal.

What about the others' environment that you might be polluting? Mineral mining for fertilizers may not cause immediate damage. But fossil fuel mining across the globe is making places literally uninhabitable for any species, not just humans. According to my friend Seun, also a geologist, places like his home in Southern Nigeria host oil companies that have lobbies so extensively in the local and federal government that the government has stolen millions of dollars from the people in exchange for selling their land to oil companies for drilling. Seun discussed with me the implications that fossil fuel mining has had on his home town. People's farms are covered in spilled petrochemicals and other inorganic wastes so badly that these people can no longer grow food and are being forced to flee the region as refugees. My friend is unsure if he will be able to return home after he completes his Masters degree because he doesn't know if there will be food for him to eat. His family's farm has fallen victim to the humanitarian crimes that are being undertaken in Southern Nigeria.

So for me it's not about proving one person right, one person wrong, another person a crazy liberal, and another person a mad scientist. By default, I think we're all scientists (because we're all experimenting with plants through the act of gardening) and what each of us has to say has equal importance.

The issue of purposely adding pollutants to the earth and also the issue of indirectly supporting industries that do so are issues that require all of us to join in discussion. Is it worth having the greenest, healthiest lawn? From a chemists' perspective, as long as the chemistry is handled right, yes. From a geologists' perspective (and not a petro-chemical geologist, mind you), I'll tell you that any pollutants added to any groundwater system can be considered pollution when the scope of the pollution is taken into consideration, so no. From a religious perspective, we have a higher calling to educate ourselves on the dangers that we are presenting to the natural creation that we have the privilege of experiencing, although we are aiding in the growth of life on our own soil, is it truly balancing the harm that we are causing in other parts of the globe?

Please consider Steve's suggestion of topping off the soil in your yard with an organic amendment. Please consider that grass is one (1) of many, many, many plants and biodiversity never hurt a single being.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 11:38PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thanks Persimmons for your thoughtful post. It's scary to think about some of the long term effects that some of our small choices can make. It's also nice to hear the perspective of a geologist. Appreciate the time you've spent to share your expertise and concerns.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 10:34PM
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