bad lawn, compost, etc. - need advice!

vvesper(7TN)April 8, 2008

We have a good-sized lot - 0.80 acres, with really bad lawn. Used to be pasture, until about 3 years ago, they stripped off all the topsoil, ran over it with lots of heavy equipment, and built our house. The lawn looks about like you'd expect - thin, weedy, with big bare patches where not even weeds will grow. Soil is orange clay.

I can get a dump truck load of compost from the water treatment plant (which friends tell me did great for their lawns/gardens) for a reasonable fee. But I don't know an efficient way to spread it. This is kind of a big area for the wheelbarrow, shovel, and broom technique! Can we rent some kind of spreader?

Or is there something else that would be better to start with? I've seen folks here recommend just starting with grains, but I'm thinking that especially those bare patches may be so bad off I really need to start with compost and overseeding.

Thanks for any ideas!

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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

Compost is really good stuff for what you describe as your lawn. You have hit on the second biggest problem with compost, the first being cost if you have to buy it. Spreading compost for the average homeowner is very labor intensive. If you had a spreader, you would have to fill it about every twenty steps, from guess where ? Your wheel barrel. So you might as well sling it and broom / rake it in. Maybe you could hire someone to help with that. The most important item in lawn maintenance is cultural practices, proper watering and mulch mowing the lawn at the proper height. Since this is the organic lawn care forum then I feel justified in recommending that you do fertilize your lawn with Soybean meal about five times this year starting this week. Seed you bare areas and mulch lightly with compost fertilize with soybean meal, keep the seeded areas damp until established, and you are good to go. As for your weeds, you can either pull them by hand or fall back on the chemical arsenal for one season. Many use the "hybrid" approach for the first year or two of organic lawn care. Good luck with your new home, lawn and gardens.
Bill Hill

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 4:25PM
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vvesper(7TN)

Thanks, Bill. The cost of compost isn't really too bad here. I can get 18-20 cubic yards delivered from the water treatemnt plant for $175. Thank God for municipalities that make compost! Better by far than buying from a garden center. We may just have to bite the bullet and spread by hand. I think it will take too long to make any progress just working with the grains initially. Better to give it a jump start since it's in such bad shape. We don't really ever water, as the yard is too big. Of course, we will have to water any bare patches that we seed, but we would have to be home all day to move the sprinkler around and get good coverage on the whole yard! We get pretty good rainfall here anyway - averages just about an inch a week through the year. I will give the soybean meal a try as well and see how that goes. Not sure about the weeds at this point. I pick off dandelions and such before they go to seed every chance I get, but again, it's a big area.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 8:17AM
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