When and how much and what?

rcnaylor(z7 Tex)March 10, 2008

Well, like many here probably do, I've been surfing over on the lawn forum. I was kind of surprised by how MUCH fertilizer many pile on over there.

So, I just thought I'd check over here and see what the usual fertilization schedule is.

Mine is a little different this year because I ran across a great deal on some CGM. But here is what it usually is more like:

Around the first of May 20 lbs per thousand alfalfa meal

Late August - 20 lbs Cottonseed meal

October 1 20 lbs Soybean meal

Thanksgiving or first hard freeze - 1 and quarter pound of Nitrogen (urea) per thousand.

Four feedings. None in the hot weather, three in the fall.

How about you guys?

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morpheuspa

There's not a thing wrong with that. You probably noted one post (by Yours Truly) wherein my amounts rose well over 100 pounds per thousand square foot per year.

It depends on what you're doing. For maintenance, less than yours is just fine.

For transforming old, tapped out farmland (which is what I have) into something self-sustaining, a lot more is required. That raised an unrotated crop of corn for decades, at least (I've lived in the same city all my life...I don't remember a time when it wasn't corn, neither do my parents).

I could add less and do it more slowly...but why bother? It's no major stress to feed once a month or so.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 11:25AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

For me...

Late February - soybean meal 20-25lbs per 1000 sqft

Late May - alfalfa pellet 20-25lbs (maybe Texas Tee fertilizer)

late August - soybean meal

late November - soybean meal (maybe alfalfa pellets)

I tend to stay away from cotton meal and alfalfa meal because they are too powdery and it's always windy so I'd end up fertilizing my neighbors' yard. I stop mowing in October so I don't know about alfalfa pellets in November and they'd just sit there ending up looking like millions of animal poops. My trees aren't very big so it's not like I'm going to be mulch mowing leaves all the time as I used to do that growing up at my mom's throughout the fall/winter. I may give Scott's organic fertilizer a look and maybe Texas Tee fertilizer as well. It's only tentative plan. I'll decide when time comes on which fertilizer to use.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 11:29AM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Thanks for the input so far. And, Morph, please don't think I'm suggesting a better or worse scenario. Like you point out, you are using more to address some specific needs. And, I would very much agree it is often necessary or at least useful to use more organics to get a change over going well.

But, I was thinking I was kind of on the high end, yet compared to alot of the folks over on the lawn care forum, I seemed to be way low. So, I thought I would see what folks over here were actually doing and finding good enough or not good enough in their particular situations.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 12:27PM
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iowa50126(z5IA)

I have cool season grasses (KBG/TTTF). I have in the past fertilized 4 times a season...Late May, Sept, Oct, Nov.

After talking to some Master Gardener friends, I think I will just fertilize 3 times this year and omit the Sept feeding. I'm also going to cut my Nitrogen input down to 2 lbs of Nitrogen per 1000sqft this year instead of 3 lbs/1000sqft. I mulch mow and I really do not need all that extra Nitrogen.

I think many of us fall into the trap of thinking that we must constantly be dumping some fertilizer/weed preventer/fungicide/etcetera on our lawns...and to failing to do this will hurt our grass.

Are we feeding the turf or our egos?

I submit the idea that "too much" fertilizer, even if it is just SBM or Alfalfa pellets is a waste of resources and money.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 12:38PM
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morpheuspa

I seemed to be way low

That was actually the statement in my first sentence--no, your plan is fine. It didn't quite come across that way. I sounded rather testy, actually. Sorry about that, it's not what I meant at all, but vocal tone doesn't exist here (yet!).

Are we feeding the turf or our egos?

Yes. :-) On a maintained, organic soil that's rich in resources, anything much over maintenance will just give way to anaerobic decay or outgassing. That's a loss. Feeding at that point is definitely feeding the ego.

Those of us who tested at 0.2% organic matter, and zip on the nutrients and trace metals, have to do *something*. A test this year would show that to be better, but there's no way it's rising more than a percent a year or so, stabilizing (I hope!) eventually around 5-7%.

I'm midway between thinking of this as "food," as in NPK, and as an organic pick-me-up to keep the nutrient levels in the soil high. I don't have the stored nutrients to rely on the latter, a cycle I can watch happen over time if I don't feed very regularly.

Yet. I will, though, in a few years, and can dump the last of the NPK thinking.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 1:19PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Thanks Morph. No problem. I'm the same way (yikes, did I really sound like that?!)

I'm with you though. I give no real consideration to P or K. Just try to put out enough "meals" for my yard and then I choose that little dolop of soluable N after the hard freeze.

Generally, my yard seems to like it.

Though, by August, its usually looking tough from the heat (in the transition zone here for cool season grasses).

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 2:17PM
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tmelrose

Bermuda
end of February - composted yard
March 1 - CGM 20#s per 1000 sq ft
Memorial day - SBM (I'd use CGM if I could afford more)
July 4 - SBM
Sept 15 -October 1 - CGM/Alfalfa pellets

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 4:42PM
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rutgers1(6NJ)

I have very sandy soil, and the lawn apparently died in places every year prior to me moving in. That, compounded by my love of applying things, has me at six applications this year. I know I am probably overdoing it, but I enjoy it. Plus, since it is organic, it isn't like I am running the risk of destroying the lawn.

After starting with the organics last year, there have been some great signs:
1) worms have returned
2) the lawn is considerably greener than your average lawn in the development....As of a month ago, I would say that it was one of the top 2 or 3 darkest in a development of several hundred houses - which is pretty impressive considering I winterized with Scotts Organic Choice Lawn Food. The difference isn't as noticeable right now, but it still looks better than most.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 10:26PM
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morpheuspa

Mine's had the same effect. I started with clay (if you used a shovel and dug it out, the aggregate size was about a foot...)

The worms are going nuts and the grass is greener than it was. Oddly, it also smells nicer (sweet instead of slightly sour) and it's become a beacon for the local (and exploding) population of rabbits. Most people hate them, I enjoy having them around.

The soil's changed to the point that it already cuts like butter (except for the rare rock, of course).

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 7:30AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I don't remember what I did last year, but after July I was pretty much gone except for alternate weekends home. I know I did not apply anything after July. Up to that it was probably 15 pounds of whatever I had (corn meal and/or corn gluten meal) per 1,000 square feet.

I just wanted to reply to some of the remarks. Dark green grass is something that usually surprises people when they start to use organic fertilizer. Even though they can read about it here, the color change is so dramatic that it surprises them.

morpheuspa: Congratulations on changing your soil. When do you plan to have your organic matter tested again? I'm curious how they go about testing for organic matter. Do they have a way to count microbes in the soil or are they looking for leaves and twigs to come floating to the top? I wonder what the bunnies want from your yard? Maybe they smell the difference too.

After I started organics and watering and mowing right, I noticed my grass cut differently. Now it sounds like I'm slicing through lettuce - sort of a juicy sound.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 9:55AM
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fescue_planter

I'm in the same boat as morpheuspa in starting with soil low in organic matter. For me in my second season of organic practice, I won't think twice to dump something each month during the season simply to build up the humus. As long as it breaks down quick, doesn't stink and doesn't run-off then I can't see myself doing any harm to the lawn. In fact, I'd like to see how much alfalfa you could dump on a lawn and do it a disservice!

Otherwise rcnaylor made the statement above that he doesn't apply anything in hot weather either which is OK I'm sure. Personally, the hot weather won't deter me in my application of corn/alfalfa with the understanding that the eventual nutrient absorption by the plant is controlled.

Otherwise looking forward to seeing a new season of change in my soil in year #2!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 11:20AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Some of you have seen my lawn in the thread before and after. Well, the white dirt has changed to blackish except for the white rocks and they seem to be moist pretty deep as well when I was digging holes for plants and trees. No more pure white stuff. Seemed easy to dig up a hole with the Claw tool garden (best tool ever)

Go a couple houses down the street, I helped the neighbor plant a couple trees. Whew! His ground was SO COMPACTED, it ruined my claw garden tool. Shovel isn't much help with the rocks so we used a long metal pointed rod to ram through the ground and break up compacted ground. I noticed how dry it was at 8-12 inches depth despite all the rain we've had for the past year. I was surprised about that. It shows you how much organic program can really improve the soil if done right.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 11:43AM
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morpheuspa

morpheuspa: Congratulations on changing your soil. When do you plan to have your organic matter tested again? I'm curious how they go about testing for organic matter. Do they have a way to count microbes in the soil or are they looking for leaves and twigs to come floating to the top?

Next year, I think. I can see that the color has gone from white-gray clay to about the color of peat moss, which is nice.

From what I understand, there are two ways to test OM. One is to fire it to a good, hot temperature (after a thorough drying out). Weights before and after tell you what the OM was, since that will flare off as CO2, NO2, and recombined H2O. The solid residues are known, and can also be calculated.

The other is to react it chemically and see how much solution it requires to fully react. The amount tells you how much OM was in the soil.

I wonder what the bunnies want from your yard? Maybe they smell the difference too.

I think so. There are more strands, and far healthier ones, than there ever were before organics.

Local dogs preferentially eat my grass as well, and my own dogs eat more (and get sick a lot less from it) since I changed over to organics. Local dogs visit for other things, too. :-) There's another thing I don't mind--it's free organic material.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 2:26PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

fescue planter: You'll know when you've applied too much protein. So will your neighbors for about a block around. The sour smell gives it away.

Regarding dog poop on an organic lawn: generally my dogs prefer to poop elsewhere or else in the ivy, but when they get old, they turn to the yard. The last time I had an old dog I noticed that when I left the piles alone, they completely disappeared in 4 days. I should have taken pictures (LOL). On the first day the flies came and laid eggs. By the second day other bugs, especially pill bugs, crawled all over it. At the end of the third day it was an amorphous blob. If you accidentally stepped on it, you certainly felt it but it was not slippery nor did it stick to your shoes. By the end of the fourth day it had melted down below the grass level. Now why would an organic program make a difference? I am convinced that the critters that handle animal dung can't survive with the chemicals.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 11:01PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Well, DChall's detailed description brought to mind a mean feat my dog pulled off a while back.

How he mananged to stand it straight up, I'll never know.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 11:31PM
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morpheuspa

Dude, that's funny. I have a mental image of little ant engineers coming along, trying to figure out how to disassemble and eat it without collapsing the pile and killing somebody.

It's like Jenga, but with poo.

I am convinced that the critters that handle animal dung can't survive with the chemicals.

I have no data, but I've noticed the same. With three dogs who preferentially go on the grass (they're trained that way--I'd far rather step in it than put my hand in it in the gardens), it never lasts long except in February.

As soon as the soil organisms are awake, dismantling and decay happen in a few days. Like you, I've wondered if the strength of the synthetics knocks out the beetles or other arthropods that eat it.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 7:15AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I just fling dog poops over the back fence onto empty lot. Can't have a kid rolling around on the lawn with poop there...

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 9:17AM
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garett

rcnaylor... wow.. just wow..

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 10:19PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

What's weirder? A dog leaving a pile of poop standing up right, or a guy taking a picture of it?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 5:06PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Hey, some of us are just used to carrying a camera around the yard

Here is a link that might be useful: camera in yard

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 10:09PM
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morpheuspa

RCNaylor, I love your gardening! I also have to get in the habit of carrying one around. Hard drive space is cheap these days.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 6:06AM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Thank Morph. Photography is kinda fun. And, you never know when you are going to run across a once in a lifetime kind of shot. haha.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 8:45AM
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tmelrose

rcnaylor, you have a beautiful yard. Love your flowers - georgous. What is the flower in your 28th and 65th picture? The first is purple and the second burgundy star shaped flowers.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 10:02AM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Thanks tmelrose. I enjoy gardening and taking pics, so, as you can see, there are a few pics there.

Both of the ones you asked about are clematis. The first one is a Jackmani. Its kind of purple. The second one is, I think, a Noibe. Its kind of a redish maroon.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 8:06PM
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tmelrose

I've seen clematis before but none as lovely as the ones in your pics. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 11:07PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Hey, I'm glad you enjoyed them tmelrose. Since you enjoy clematis, and I notice from your home page that your in Oklahoma... I just have to share with you these pics of some of my TEXAS Fall clematis ;)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 11:49PM
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tmelrose

Beautiful! Makes me want to go outside and plant something!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 1:01PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Me 2nd! I will get there one day....

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 9:09PM
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jimnyo(8 (SoCal))

so i noticed some folks here started their program in february and run all the way through until november. then a couple started early and ended by july or started in late august and ended by november. is there an advantage to stopping in july/starting late in august? i live in an inland valley in southern california and just starting out. i'm thinking i probably need to do more work initially, is that correct?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 1:19AM
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