Topdressing Lawn Timing

VinloMarch 29, 2011

We had our lawn redone at the beginning of last season due to extensive home renovations and regrading required. That being said, last year was a bit of a wash when it came to a decent lawn - lots of weeds took hold in the spring before the grass did - so it was a bit of an up hill battle. We overseeded in the fall last year with a slit seeder so at the end of the season things were looking up. Last year all work was done with synthentics.

This year we have made the choice to switch over to organic. As such we want to apply compost topdressing to the lawn. I have read, read and read some more and have decided to put it down this weekend, my question is is this too early to apply topdressing? Temperatures are just getting warm now in our area (Windsor/Detroit) and weather predictions show an increase in the weeks coming with nighttime temps staying above freezing. Also we are supposed to get rain the following monday, so it seems like good timing.

Does this sound like a problem to anyway?

I want to get this done so I get can some CGM down in the weeks coming to combat the crabgrass and goose grass that were the bane of my existence lasts year. After that I will follow up with ACT, alfalfa and soybean throughout the rest of the year and overseed (slit seeder) in the fall again.

Any help/insight is appreciated.

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Whether this is too early, or not, depends on where in Ontario you are. If close to Lake Ontario your soil could be warm enough but if you are closer to Trent you may still have snow on the ground. While some may tell you that you can apply organic plant foods anytime, and you can, keep in mind if the soil is too cool for the Soil Food Web to be active much of any plant food you spread could be simply washed away and not moved into the soil.
The best criteria I know of to tell when to apply plant foods to a lawn is if the grass is greening up and actively growing. That is an indication that the Soil Food Web is now active.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 7:16AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

The app rate for compost is 1 cubic yard per 1,000 square feet. The reason I say that is you did not mention it but you did mention several things that give me the impression you might jump off a cliff if someone suggests it.

CGM is no guarantee you will not have weeds. I've used it many times as a fertilizer and it doesn't seem to stop any weeds for me. NONE. It's a hellofa fertilizer, though.

Compost tends to make your lawn warm up earlier than the neighbors, so you might see improvement before they do. Compost is also the most expensive thing you can put on your lawn. I think you would get much more benefit from alfalfa or anything else.

I'm guessing you have fescue and no Kentucky bluegrass. If you want to end your problems with thin turf, plant the best Kentucky bluegrass seed you can buy. The dense KBG should keep the weeds out permanently. On the down side, it turns brown in the winter. For that reason many people mix TTTF with KBG. They both have benefits.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 11:24PM
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Well I did top dress, I knew the 1 yard/1000 sq.ft. I got 6 yards and did most of the yard (left the city portion alone). It was a pretty lengthy job, but with help from a friend it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Delivered it was just over $100. So not horrible. You are correct, i have seen the lawn green up in the week since we put it down and can not really see much of the compost any more. There is a difference in green where we stopped.. hah.

As for the corn gluten, we figured if there was a chance of some pre emerge effect it would be better than nothing as we had a large problem with what i think to be goosegrass.

All that being said, we are going to follow up with soybean meal. The plan is to also overseed with a slit seeder in the early fall - possibly with the KBG as was suggested.

I feel good about it so far, talk to me mid summer to see how good I still feel about it.. hah.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 7:46PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Before you buy your KBG seed, check in again. There are some resources on the Internet that can really help you pick out the best ones for your area. It is just as easy to use great seed as poor seed. The up front cost is more for the Elite varieties mostly because they are pure (no weeds seeds mixed in). With seed you really do get what you pay for. You cannot buy great seed at a box store.

Here's my KBG motivational picture. This lawn happens to not be organic (as I recall).

If it had been organic I would expect it to be almost a blue-green. This owner had been disappointed at his Elite KBG. We suggested he raise his mower height and this photo shows the results. He was ecstatic. He had thought he wasted his money and it was going to cost him a full renovation to fix. In this case it cost him nothing.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 7:37PM
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