Absolute beginner - less than beginner, really

mamamermaidMarch 11, 2007

I've searched the web and I've perused all the Lawn forums including FAQs and I can't find anything to help someone with NO knowledge of yard care at all. I have NO idea what kind of grass is in my yard (my house is 51 years old). I don't have any idea where to start to figure out how to take care of a lawn.

I live in Austin, TX (hot!). I plan to eventually remove ALL the turf (that' some good lingo, right?) in the large sunny backyard and xeriscape. I have a small front yard with two huge oaks in it (lucky me cuz I like shade). I would like to know how to take care of the lawn in the front. Must be organic care!

What I really want to know is if someone can direct me to a book or website for the less-than-beginner?

We have a magnificent "natural" garden center here, but I'm kind of embarassed to go over there and ask the most basic questions.

Thanks, y'all!

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Don't be embarrassed - everyone had to start someplace :-) If this is really a great "natural" garden center, then they will be more than eager to help educate you. As a member of the nursery industry for many years, my experience has been - at least in my area - that nurseries and garden centers want their customers to succeed and feel good about gardening. That's what keeps them coming back. And if organic or natural gardening is their philosphy, helping you to understand and adopt these methods will be high on their list.

I can't help you with your warm season grass, but I'm sure they can. And there really isn't too much difference between organic lawn care in warmer climates than there is up in the cooler north - you just substitute organic/natural products for the chemical ones.

Ask - they'll help. And Texas has a very active Master Gardener program, with most chapters very much into organic gardening methods. These folks exist just to help out folks like you.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 8:35AM
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cncnorman(z7 FW/TX)

Please don't be afraid to ask those people questions - they thrive on it ~ lol!!! Seriously, they lovve to help people learn organics so that they will stay organic. Take some of your grass with you so you can show them what you have and they will tell where to go from there.
Have fun!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 9:41AM
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Thanks! They are wonderful at The Natural Gardner here in Austin. I'll gird up my proverbial loins and make a list.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 5:42PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

And Texas has a very active Master Gardener program, with most chapters very much into organic gardening methods.

This is misleading. The Master Gardener program only promotes the TAMU way of gardening and they are decidedly anti organic. So much so that two cadres of Master Gardeners have split off and formed two new groups called Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA) and the Garden Volunteers of South Texas.

You can learn a lot from John Dromgoole at his shop. I don't know the name. You can also listen to him on the radio (nope, don't know the station either).

The best FAQ on organic lawn care is over on the Organic forum. Find the FAQs and the lawn care one is near the bottom of the list.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 9:42PM
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cncnorman(z7 FW/TX)

I copied the following information from the linked website for ya in case you were wanting more info on what dc hall mentioned

John Dromgoole, owner of The Natural Gardener Nursery and Lady Bug Natural Brand, has been deeply involved in the advancement of organic gardening and environmental issues for over thirty years. His nursery has been voted "Best Nursery" eight times in The Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin Poll, and is known for supplying organic products, native and well adapted plants, and bulk compost, soils and mulches. The gardens at the store have been featured in Texas Highways, Herb Companion and Fine Gardening magazines.

John's radio show, Gardening Naturally, has been on the air on KLBJ AM 590 for 25 years. Gardening Naturally is a bi-weekly (every Saturday and Sunday) question and answer program that focuses on the organic technique for homeowners and weekend gardeners. He is also the host of Backyard Basics on KLRU (PBS, Austin) TV's weekly show Central Texas Gardener and the Weekend Gardener on KXAN TV's Saturday First Cast.

John was the originator of the City of Austin's "Chemical Clean-Up Day", which has become an annual event and has now established a permanent drop-off site. He was also a co-author on the Texas Department of Agriculture's original task force to establish standards for the organic certification of farms in Texas. In 2002, John was awarded the Dennis Hobbs Individual Achievement Award by Keep Austin Beautiful for his contribution to many different Austin and surrounding area non-profit groups, schools and the general public.

John has written articles for Texas Gardener Magazine and Organic Gardening Magazine since 1983 and has been the recipient of numerous environmental conservation and gardening industry awards over the years.
Watch John's gardening segment on KXAN's FirstCast Saturdays, at 7:20 am, Channel 36.

Watch John's "Backyard Basics" segment of Central Texas Gardener on Austin's public television stations:

KLRU Channel 42:
Noon on Saturdays
12:30 p.m. Thursdays On KLRU2 (cable):
10 a.m. Wednesdays
9 p.m. Saturdays

Here is a link that might be useful: his website

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 11:19AM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Read the organic lawn care FAQ. Most of it applies to any kind of warm season grass you have (in Austin, if you have grass that is almost assuredly the general category of grass you have. Organic ferilizers like grain meals, alfalfa meal, deep infrequent watering, mowing high but no more than a third of the grass height each mowing. No fungicides (except corn meal if you believe it helps), no pesticides, and no pre-emergents, except maybe corn gluten meal.

I like to put out at least one application of compost topdressing on yards that haven't had organic practices to get the number and diversity of soil organisms up. Some add compost tea to the soil to help with that as well.

Mulch don't mow to help feed the soil organisms and get a little organic matter into the soil.

That is the main stuff. Exactly what you use and when you use it depends to some extent on what kind of grass you have.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 5:35PM
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Thank you all so much.

One question:

What does "Mulch don't mow to help feed the soil organisms and get a little organic matter into the soil."

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 11:42PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Hmmm, good question. I think that got garbled. I would say it like this...

"Mulch don't mow to help feed the soil organisms and get a little organic matter into the soil."

Heh, heh, just kidding. This is it...

"Mulch-mow to help feed the soil organisms and get a little organic matter into the soil."

If you collect the lawn clippings in a bag when you mow, you are removing a source of organic material for your soil. Some people claim you can save 1/3 of your fertilizer by mulch mowing instead of bagging.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 11:59PM
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Ahhhhh. Mulch clearer....ahem.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 12:43AM
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