dchall, trickle watering method

v1rtMay 26, 2007

hi dchall,

Someone from another forum recommended to me your trickle watering method on a very compacted soil. I bought the soaker last night and started soaking that area around 10pm. I also made sure that water was coming out slowly.

I would like to know what I should do this after this step?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



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just an update folks, it does really work!!!

Finally, I was able to core aerate the very compacted area.

I will continue soaking it for 3 weeks and also apply AACT next week.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 2:07PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

DCHall from last August:
The reason soils don't drain is the normal fungal colonies are missing. They are missing because 1) they have had their air cut off, 2) a fungicide has killed them off, or 3) simple drought with absolutely no water. Just so we know what we're talking about, picture a loaf of week-old bread. Anyone who has ever watched a loaf of bread go bad knows that the fungus (mold is a fungus) can entirely take over the bread in 3 days. And, I might add, most bread has preservatives which are supposed to prevent the mold from growing. So even in the face of preservatives (edible fungicides), you can get tremendously fast spreading of a fungus. You can do the same thing in your soil, so you don't have to wait months or worry about the rainy season (which starts just after the Rose Bowl game and ends on Valentine's Day in SoCal).

The way you get them back is to apply compost, which you have already done, and water. The water has to be a trickle water or you will flood the area and cut off the air, which worsens the situation. As bpgreen said, take a soaker hose and stretch it out along the high side of your lawn. Turn the faucet to a trickle and let the soaker run 24/7 for a full week. At the end of the week the soaker should have only spread out 18 inches or so. Then move the soaker 18 inches (to the edge of the wet spot) and continue watering. This overlap is good to have. Keep moving on a weekly basis until you finish - then start all over again at the top. You will have to continue watering on your NORMAL WEEKLY schedule while all this soaking is going on. Continue this for three entire cycles covering your entire lawn. If you have a big lawn this could take until the Rose Bowl, but if you really do live in LA, you don't have enough yard for that.

What this process does is provide the perfect moisture environment for the beneficial fungi. An additional load of those fungi came in with your compost - which is the whole purpose of compost IMHO. It is those beneficial fungal microbes that loosen the soil and allow moisture to penetrate. So to continue with the corollary thought, again in my opinion, you can core or spike aerate all you want but nothing beats bazillions of fungal strands growing for hundreds of miles in the top few inches of your soil.

NEVER TILL TURF. I don't care what you think you need to do or what someone told you, if you till you will have a bumpy lawn until you can get it fixed. Just save yourself the hassle and leave flat enough alone.

You don't need tons of amendments. If you want to work a 3-week wonder on your soil, find a feed store and get a 50-pound bag of cheap animal feed. I like whole ground corn meal for a lot of reasons, but if you can get rabbit food (alfalfa pellets), or even cheap dog food, these protein sources are exactly what your soil needs to improve its health. Adding water does nothing to feed the microbes. They need protein just like all other creatures. Then they feed each other from their waste materials and dead bodies. Apply the grain at a rate of 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet and give it 21 days for the improvement to show up. Assuming you have used no fungicides recently, your grass should green up and start to recover.

One thing you need to know about is the wildlife. If you apply, say, dog food, to your lawn, you will not attract rats, dogs, or squirrels. You will attract birds, toads, and lizards, which are all extremely beneficial to your garden. Pelletized animal feeds need to be moistened immediately when you apply so they can melt. You don't need to flood them, just dampen them. Then when the birds come in, they will try to pick up the stuff and it will sort of moosh out in their beak. But while they are there they will find insects in your lawn to eat, so it really is a good thing to have birds come visit. And the same goes for toads and lizards. Just don't use insecticide and the birds, toads and lizards will control the insects very nicely for you.

On watering: weekly watering is the goal. You should be able to apply enough water all at once to go a full 7 days without watering again. There are lots of reasons for this but we'd really be here all night. If you see your grass drying out before the 7 days are up, then water longer next time. I water each zone for 1-3 hours depending on the weather, and my zones overlap by 50%.

On mowing: Mulch mow at the mower's highest setting. Again, lots of reasons, just do it (unless you are trying to grow bermuda, in which case write back and we'll help you with that). If you want to learn more about these techniques, read more of the messages here on this forum.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 11:29PM
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Ron--Those cores look thinner and deeper than the machine cores. Did you do all that with a Turf Hound?

I just used the turf hound on a couple of spots to see hoe much I had helped the soil. The cores were brown (a definite improvement from the yellow soil I had when I moved in).

I was feeling pretty good about that until I saw your cores and remembered how black Illinois soil is. I noticed that the very top is an even darker black, so I think you're seeing the benefits of your organic practices.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 3:05AM
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hi bpgreen,

Yes, I did it with Turf Hound. I think I did like 15 holes per square foot. :D

And yes, from another Organic forum, someone told me that the black tip on my plugs is really a good sign of organic. He told me that in the future if I continue organic, the whole plugs should be color black.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 4:09AM
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I live in a household that tries to conserve water.

How much water will be used on 1000 sq ft of lawn using this trickle method? Has any one ever kept track?

Where I live ... city water runs about $12 per 1000 gallons due to a heavy surcharge for the sewer/waste water system.

I have a concern that if I let a hose run 24/7 for weeks on end I'd need a second mortgage to pay the city water bill. (sigh)

What's the cost of doing this?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 10:37PM
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Honestly, I still don't understand the benefits of soil becoming black which was caused by our organic practices. I do understand the benefits of putting organic to our lawn like CGM, CM, SBM, alfalfa meal and so on. But hopefully, someone can tell me the reason why we want to achieve black soil.



    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 10:43PM
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Nice looking plugs. Soil color is an indicator of the amount of organic matter in it. Good compost is black. The more your soil looks like it the better.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 11:27PM
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