Organic Monthly Schedule for Organic Newbie

anti_lawnman(z6)April 2, 2007

I just renovated my lawn last fall and have a fresh outlook on lawns. I have a 2yr old little girl and it scares me to think about her getting into some chemicals that I have sprayed on the lawn. I would like to give organic a try but not sure of what I should put on my yard, when, and how much.

Can anyone offer a monthly detailed schedule that could help me get started. I hope that you could give product names and per 1000sq/ft amounts of the product.

I read the FAQ but still would like additional information.

I have also searched other sites and it seems that they are all different in what people are putting on their yards.

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greenjeans_il(zone5 IL)

Try not to complicate it. If your turf doesn't need it there's no reason to apply anything. Organic lawncare is more about what you do than what you apply. There are a few things you can try, though:

Soybean meal- about 5 to 10lbs./k every couple of weeks. SBM is good for a few reasons; high protein counts at a good price, probably the easiest to spread, promotes good fungal growth. The downside to SBM is if you put down too much at one time (for instance the traditional 20lbs/k) you will get a smell in your lawn not unlike that of the rear end of a hog. SBM is good to use year round.

Alfalfa meal- about 20lbs/k (no foul odors with this one). Good to apply during the Fall due to its rhizome that promotes root growth. Best to use anytime you're seeding. Not as high in protein as soybean meal so other than the root growth rhizome dollar for dollar you'll do better with SBM.

Corn meal- about 20lbs/k. If your turf is susceptible or you've had problems with any disease fungi this is the meal for you. Corn meal promotes the growth of Tricoderma fungi (is that right guys? someone help me out with that one) which is the organic battle bot of disease. Traditionally disease fungi will run rampant during hot/humid spells at the beginning of and through the Summer (depending where you live, obviously). This would be the best time to apply. Again, not as high in protein as SBM, but it's definitely got its strong points.

Corn Gluten Meal- about 20lbs/k twice a year (Spring and Fall but only if not overseeding). The highest protein count of all the organic amendments with a price tag to match. CGM studies have shown it to be an effective pre-emergent weed (or any plant for that matter) destroyer. It kills off the feeder roots of germinating seeds before they grow. Not effective once the plant has rooted and studies have shown it to take as long as three years of use before it reaches its full potential. However, if weeds are a major problem in your lawn, it's definitely worth the expense. Or, if weeds are not a problem and the expense is not a factor it may prove reliable as a deterent to future unwanted growth. At the least you've provided your microherd with a great source of protein.

There are others but I consider these to be the staple diet for my microherd. Easy to come by, easy for the little guys to break down, solves most problems I've run into. I like to apply CGM in the Spring, usually around the end of March/beginning of April, then at the beginning of May I'll start my SBM applications (as stated above). As the days get hot I'll continue my SBM but also put down corn meal every 3-4 weeks to combat disease. Then come the end of August I'll substitute corn meal for alfalfa meal and give it another dose of CGM. As the weather cools I'll pick up again with the SBM until it snows or it stops disappearing. All of these are strictly dependant on what the turf needs, though.

Now, before anyone comments on the large amounts of amendments I use realize I have EXTREMELY high maintenance turf that I've been struggling with the last couple of seasons. I plan to incorporate clover into my turf to add some biodiversity and some free nitrogen. If all goes well I suspect I'll be able to cut back on my amendments by half.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 2:43PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Here's my monthly plan
January - Water every week (experiment on dormancy)
February - Fertilize on President's day, continue watering
March - Water and mow
April - Water and mow
May - Fertilize on Memorial day, continue watering and mowing
June - Water and mow
July - Fertilize on 4th of July, continue watering and mowing
August - Water and mow
September - Fertilize on Labor day, continue watering and mowing
October - Water and mow
November - Fertilize on Thanksgiving, continue watering and mowing (yes we often mow in November)
December - Water

This year I'm using alfalfa pellets rather than corn meal. That's just what caught my eye when I walked into the feed store. Must be an alphabetical order thing on their grains list.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 3:47PM
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Great information. I greatly appreciate.

Does anyone have any comments on ringer lawn feed?

What do you use to kill weeds in the lawn? Water/vinegar?

I am letting my grass grow to a much taller height than I ever have before to try and shade out the weeds.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 9:07PM
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I never used ringers, but imagine its much more expensive than the grains. Mix and match grains if you like, often it helps with spreading.

I hand pull alot of weeds. My turf was only 1 years old lsat summer and full of clover that the builder attempted to seed over. Eventualy I get sick and tired of pulling clover and spray it with the weed be gone. By the end of the fall my clover population was probably about 10% of that in the spring and the lawn is building density.

My methods
Corn meal and milk in April (fungal).
Alfalfa, corn, soybean and/or milk in May (as required).
Alfalfa (10-20 lbs) in mid August (root growth/seeding).
Soybean (10-15 lbs) in late September.
Cornmeal/milk in late september (as required for fungus).

This year I want to apply more soybean in the late fall to help with green up (slow but leading the street). I will use cornmeal/milk as needed for fungal control.

Leafs,lawn and other debris that is organic all get mulched in during mowing. KBG, Red Fescue mowed at 3.5" and water 1" in a day as needed.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 9:49PM
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Is there an alternative to weed b gone.
Safe alternative?

I worry about my little girl in the freshly sprayed weed b gone yard.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 7:42AM
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I believe a "monthly schedule" for maintaining an organic lawn is taking the process to an unnaturally and unnecessarily extreme level.

The process is really quite simple and I think many try to over complicate it. Here's my take:

*Soil quality - because of the repeated activities of mowing, irrigation and walking on, turf soil becomes easily compacted. Aerate annually (spring or fall) with a plug aerator and top dress with a thin layer of screened compost. Overseed in spring if necessary.

*Weeds - develop a tolerance for some weeds and manually remove those you won't tolerate (dandelions and other deep rooted perennial weeds). Use CGM to discourage seeding of annual weeds.

*Fertilizers - don't overdo! The CGM will suffice or any other organic product of your choice, like the Ringers blended products. Or better yet, invest in a mulching mower and reduce the need to fertilize to virtually nil. The combintaion of using a mulching mower and/or organic fertilizers should reduce thatch to a non-issue.

Mow often and high and water infrequently but deeply. A thick, healthy and taller lawn is more able to outcompete weed problems and is more disease and drought tolerant. If a cool season lawn, consider allowing the lawn to go dormant in the heat of summer as it is naturally inclined to do. You will reduce water usage and the need for additional fertilizing by not keeping it artificially active during its dormant period. It will green up promptly with the cooler temperatures and rains of fall.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:28AM
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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

An organic monthly schedule depends a great deal on your location and grass type. Compare DCHall's Zone 8 organic program with GrayEntropy's Zone 5b program and you'll see what I mean. I bet both programs produce great results.

Your profile indicates U.S. Zone 6. Which state? Do you have cool or warm season grass?


    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 8:04PM
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This is the only viable alternative to weed be gone that I know. It only works with weeds that have a taproot.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 8:53PM
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I live in central Ky.
I have a newly planted(last fall) TTtall fescue (Rebel Exeda).

I have seen many posting about the weed hound.
Does it work really well?
Does Home Depot or Lowes sell the weed hound?

Is the CGM only a pre-emergent?

I have not done a soil test on my lawn but is there anything I need to ask the extension office to check for when giving them my sample?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:43PM
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The weed hound works very well on weeds with taproots like dandelions. I find it works best when the ground is somewhat wet, and seems to work best if I give it a twist as I pull the weed out of the ground.

I bought mine at Home Depot. I'm pretty sure you can get them at other hardware and garden stores, too.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 10:25PM
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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

CGM also is a fertilizer, 10-0-0.

Below is a link to a lawn schedule for central Missouri. I couldn't find a central Kentucky schedule but didn't try too hard. You may want to Google it.

Lawn Schedule


    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 11:28PM
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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

I just noticed that you asked for an organic schedule ( forgot which forum I was in!). Here's what I suggest:

1. Apply CGM at 20#/1,000 sq ft. when average soil temperature is 52-58F (probably sometime in March).

2. Apply soybean meal 10#/1,000 sq ft. Memorial Day

3. Plug aerate (optional) Labor day

4. Apply soybean meal 20#/1,000 sq ft. Labor day

5. Apply soybean meal 20#/1,000 sq ft. Halloween

6. Mulch mow your leaves into your lawn.

Throughout the growing season:

1. Mulch mow cutting no more than 1/3 of the grass's length at a time. KBG responds well if you cut to 3 1/2" when the grass reaches 5".

2. Water so that your weekly total including rainfall is about 1"-1 1/2" per week. Do not water more than one time per week. If you have too much acreage to water, your KBG may go dormant during the heat of the summer but will come back in September.

3. Hand pull weeds as needed. A "Weed Hound" works great with tap rooted weeds.

After the first year you may be able to reduce soybean meal amounts but continue with at least 10lbs per 1,000 sq ft. Do not reduce CGM amount.

Good Luck!


    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 12:58PM
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what milk are you referring to when you posted this

Cornmeal/milk in late september (as required for fungus).


    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 6:07PM
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Cow milk you buy in the store. Either leftover cereal for a soildunk or added to my hose sprayer for a general feed. The theory is that the milk helps the anti-red thread fungus to thrive thus out competing the redthread on the turf. I tried soil dunks last year with lowfat milk with good success on red thread. I am trying to be proactive this year and spray milk to help the fungus populate before conditions are ripe for red thread to try and develop.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 7:42PM
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Thanks to everyone for all their input.
This helps me out a great deal.

I will start investigating my area to see where these items can be purchased. I do have a lesco and southern states.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 9:26PM
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Deerslayer - Would the organic schedule you suggested above work for any type of grass? I have just under 1 acre of KBG that's only 3 yrs old (built an acreage on a former corn/soybean field). I'm thinking of switching to organics and have been doing a lot of research and reading on this site. I find your comments to be the most helpful!! It sounds like when switching to organics, a larger qty should be put down the 1st year, and then the amount decreased the 2nd year. Am I understanding that correctly? What would your suggestions be regarding qty/1K sq ft the 1st, 2nd, 3rd year. Also, in a post I found from last fall on this topic, you mentioned incorporating IBDU last fall into your maintenance schedule. Are you satisfied with the results or is it too soon to tell?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 10:04PM
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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

WindMountain, you can use basically the same schedule for Zone 5 KBG. The CGM application would occur in early April (52F-58F average soil temp). Also, the last soybean meal application would be moved to mid October.

Many people can reduce the amount of grains used after the first year of an organic program. It depends on the amount of organic material in your soil, the depth of your topsoil, and your microbe activity level. You can try reducing the amount of SBM by a few pounds per 1,000 sq ft each year of your organic program but don't apply less than 10 lbs per 1,000 sq ft. If your lawn begins to loose its color between applications, you'll know that you need more grain than you applied. Simply adjust your next application.

Regarding IBDU, other forum members had great success with urea 46-0-0 so I experimented with it instead of IBDU. I applied the urea in early November (after top growth stopped but before dormancy) and my lawn stayed dark green all winter. At this point, I'm planning to continue the late application of urea for at least two more years.

Good Luck!


    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 12:10AM
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hi deerslayer,

Is urea organic? What time of year is it applied and how many times? What are the benefits of our lawn to it? Is it just for color? How many pounds per 1000 qsft? Is it safe to apply if you are planning to overseed in fall? How did your lawn look like early March this year?



    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 2:47AM
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Deerslayer - Thanks so much for the info. I really appreciate it!!! This forum is terrific because of folks like you who give logical, straight forward advice. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 8:45AM
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Urea is sometimes called a synthetic organic. Urea occurs naturally, but the urea you buy at the store was created using petroleum. Most people who are trying to follow an organic lawn program avoid urea.

When you apply a fertilizer like urea, the goal is to apply approximately 1 lb per 1k sq ft. Since Urea is 46% N (the first number), to arrive at the amount per 1k sq ft, divide 1 by .46 to get approximately 2.17 lb per 1k sq ft. As you can see, a little bit goes a long way. It's very easy to apply too much and burn the lawn, so be very careful with it.

It benefits the lawn by giving a quick dose of nitrogen. That will usually quickly green up the lawn (unless your grass is yellow due to low iron, high pH, too much water, etc).

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 11:22AM
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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

I agree with much of what BPGreen wrote. (BTW, I think he's one of the posters that convinced me to experiment with urea). However, I would like to make one clarification. Urea, (NH2)2CO, is produced commercially from two raw materials, ammonia, NH3, and carbon dioxide, CO2. Both ammonia and carbon dioxide can be produced from fossil fuels.

Two principal reactions take place in the formation of urea from ammonia and carbon dioxide:

2NH3 + CO2 → H2N-COONH4 (ammonium carbamate)

H2N-COONH4 → (NH2)2CO + H2O

For the energy conservationists out there, keep in mind that a significant amount of fossil fuel is required to produce grain commercially.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 12:47PM
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william2001(z5 MO)

I've used mainly organics on my fescue lawn for a few years now. Lately, I've been buying 16% "scratch grains" from the local cowboy / farm store because it's fairly cheap and goes through the spreader really nice. About 20 lbs per thousand early spring, summer, early fall, and late fall. I add in a little of that high N, high K, "winterizer" for that last application. Really no weed problems, other than a patch of Zoysia that is testing my patience. I mow at 3.5", and water the crap out of it when it's gets really thirsty. That's about it, guess I'll keep doing what works....

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 8:56PM
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