Organic lawn care advice

James1016March 16, 2011

I'm thinking about goin organic lawn care but i'm more confused after reading web sites for the last 3 weeks. can anyone offer up some advice on what i should do first? the last chemical applied was Mar 2010, a Scott's starter fertilizer.I'm in Northern Indiana,very little topsoil, lots of clay,perenial ryegrass/Ky blue, 7.5 or 8 PH level,low on Nitro and Phosphorus, high on potassium,some moss, few weeds, 8000 sq ft of yard, 100 lb dog and 3 kids. I have lots of dirt patches, I don't bag it and it always looks pretty bad. do i start with?? compost manure,reg compost, tea, gardners sulfer, worms, humis, corn meal? i can't spend alot, maybe $200 this spring. My neighbors will all mow 2x before i need to. my yard is just brown, thin and flat. thanks, James

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PH is high. I'd like to see it around 7. Add a products called Liquid Humate it will help get the PH down and add fertility.

Lay some seed now and especially in the fall.

Use chicken manure fertilizer made for your fertilizer spreader. Amazon sells one from Scott's Organic Group. The natural fetilizer will allow soil bacteria and fungi to break up the hard clay and increase grass growth without the chemicals and flush of growth that's so hard to mow.

Mow at 3.5 inches or more. Longer grass has deeper roots. The roots are going to break up the hard soil too.

Natural fertilizer starts soil life and boosts plant growth. Deep roots break up hard soil. Your soil will become like compost on its own. No need to add soil. Let nature do the work.

Never Power Thatch - Trust me. A vertical mower to remove dead grass blades.
Aerate Every Fall. Aerate is to punch holes in the dirt with a machine to let water and fertilizers penetrate better.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Ecolandscape Network

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 9:17PM
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Most all cool season grasses grow best in a soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 and a goodly level of organic matter in that soil. The presence of moss indicates a lack of sufficient OM so you need to work on that, and as the level of OM increases your lawn will start to show its appreciation by growing in really good. Most all of the bagged manures today come from factory farms so they will be manure with little other organic matter mixerd in, and poultry manure is not something you would want on your lawn at least yet.
Work at getting the soil in good condition this year and then next year your lawn will be better and you can do more to aid it in getting healthy. Also check with Purdue Cooperative Extension for information on organic lawn care.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 8:06AM
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I added the liquid Humate yesterday. I found a feed and seed store out in the country and they are great people to work with. Next weekend I'm going to get the seed and fertilizer i need. I'll mulch/mow the right way this year and now understand what I need to do. Thanks for the help and this web site will be very usefull going forward!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 9:12PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Are you sure your pH is 7+ to 8??? That would be rare east of the Mississippi. I know it happens but just want you to be sure. You might send a soil sample to Logan Labs to be sure. If you need to adjust the pH for your grass, you need to know which type of amendment and how much.

Other than that...compost is good for getting the soil biology set up. However, if you have not used any fungicides like sulfur, baking soda, or commercial fungicides, then you soil biology is probably not too far off. Compost is nice but it is the single most expensive thing you can put on your lawn.

Compost tea is a less expensive way to distribute microbes to the soil.

Sulfur is usually used to lower pH. While it is a fungicide, it is sometimes more important to get the pH right so the microbes can grow.

Worms will come and go on their own schedule. Don't try to change that.

Humus is supposed to be aged compost - really aged. What it usually is in the store is raw manure. There is no standard for that product. Anyway, skip it for now.

Corn meal is a fertilizer. So is alfalfa pellets, soybean meal, cottonseed meal, flour, and any other ground up nut, bean, or seed you can find. This is where you get actual bang for your bucks. Apply at 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet and wait 3 full weeks for results. Keep in mind that it takes pounds per 1,000 to fertilize. Anything less than pounds of material per 1,000 and you are just adjusting the micro amounts of whatever it is you're applying. Liquid fertilizers cannot possibly put out pounds of material, so just forget about them as serious fertilizers. Visit with your local feed store and find out what they have in a 50-pound bag. They always have alfalfa pellets (rabbit food). See what else they have.

What seed do you need? You already have Kentucky bluegrass. That should spread for you to fill in any gaps. Keep it mowed at least 3 inches high and you should be good to go. Oh and water it deeply every week or so. Don't fall into the trap of watering for 10 minutes every day to put down an inch a week. Put it all down at once.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 11:32PM
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