Organic alternative for bermunda lawn

ronm69(8)June 20, 2013

I have been unable to locate soybean meal in my area for starting an organic lawn care program. I have a bermuda lawn (tiff 419 sod) that I laid 2 years ago. I am using a reel mower and have it at a height of 1" right now, and will be going down to 3/4" in the next few weeks. I have found a possible alternative that is certified organic and available at a near by feed store. I have included a link to the product below (hopefully I am allowed to do that) as this is my first post here. I have been reading here for a while and would like some feedback from those that have more knowledge about what would be good for my bermuda lawn.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nature Safe fertilzer

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I have used Nature Safe 13-0-0 on my Common Bermuda lawn twice this year (100lbs). Coupled with that I have thrown down 100's of pounds of Milorganite, Alfalfa Pellets, Cracked Corn, and one bag of Soybean.

There is no problem with the 10-2-8, but have you had a soil test done? The reason I ask is the "K" is high in this. Not a problem, but a soil test will aid in knowing whether you need additional "P" or "K".

Back to the Nature Safe. The slow release is a result of Feather Meal (90% slow release). Feather meal is extremely slow to break down and you may not get the benefits of the Nitrogen for months. The blood meal will give you a quicker jolt, but the majority of the Nitorgen will take month to breakdown and uptake by the grass.

It is going to take a lot more organics to satisfy Bermuda then synthetics, so I would recommend you use some Milorganite (which will also give you some Iron great for greening), along with the Nature Safe. You really can't put to much of any organic down unless you smother the grass.

Keep in mind, when going to organics, you are trying to feed the soil a diverse meal (just like we like), so throw some of the other things down I note. Get a soil test, always the best way to start.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 7:22AM
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Thanks for the reply, I have not done a soil test yet. I am currently using Lawn Doctor for my lawn service but am not happy with them. I will definitely get the soil test done before starting anything.

Was there a Nature Safe that used blood meal? I will have to go back and look into that. I thought I remember seeing that blood meal was much more expensive.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 4:41AM
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Most of the high Nitrogen Organic Fertilizers (12+) like Nature Safe usually use a combination of Feather Meal, Blood Meal, and Meat Meal. The Blood Meal is to give it a quicker jolt of Nitrogen. It is expensive, but is used in much smaller quantity than the Feather Meal due to the expense and it can burn your lawn if over used.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 7:18AM
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In regards to the use of this Nature Safe product 10-2-8, what would be the recommended dose, 10lbs per 1000sq ft?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 12:20AM
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When doing organics, there is no real formula like when using synthetics. I would start with 10lbs per 1K, as if it were a synthetic, but you really can't over do it per se.

Remember, Feather Meal is "glacially" slow to break down, so unless you combine it with some of the other things I note, your results won't be immediate.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 5:11AM
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Right now I am interested in stopping my Lawn Doctor service and starting this. My biggest issue with my lawn is the lack of density, and that is my fault for keeping it at 2" or more for so long. Now that I am mowing it a couple times a week at 1" I expect it to start filling in. It's not as green as I would like but I understand that it is going to take some time for the lawn to get used to the lower height.

Once I get a soil test done should starting with the Nature Safe be sufficient? I don't have a weed problem so getting an organic fertilizer program started is my primary goal.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 5:35AM
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Mowing the tiff lower should definitely help. I went from 3+ or so inches with a rotary last year to an inch and a half this year and the difference is unbelievable. I have a common Bermuda though.

If you are going cold turkey from synthetics to organic as I did this year, I would through some other stuff down with the feather meal that has a quicker breakdown. Throw down some milorganite with the feather meal.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 3:59AM
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I think I am going to go cold turkey since I will spend more on the rest of my lawn doctor treatments for the year than I will on a few bags of these two items. If I mix the milorganite and nature safe, you think half and half to equal 10lbs per 1000 sq. ft. would be sufficient to start? I know they both say that they won't burn, but I don't want to over do it the first time.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 5:19AM
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I'd put more of the milorganite down. Take advantage of the iron and it's nitrogen will show results in a couple of weeks. The Feather Meal will take a couple of months. I throw down 144 lbs of milorganite every month on 11K sq. ft. In between I'm throwing feather meal, alfalfa pellets, corn, and soy. I am, in effect throwing something down every other week.

Not sure how much lawn you are talking about, but if you throw 50 lbs of feather meal, throw down 100 lbs of milorganite. You won't be sorry, plus the milorganite goes through my rotary spreader a hell of a lot easier than the pellets.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 12:06PM
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I have about 5000 sq ft. Are you using the corn for weed control? I thought I read somewhere that corn gluten meal is good for weed control.

It looks like I can get the milorganite at my local big box store. I may just get started with those two for now and adjust the dosage accordingly once I get the soil test done.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 1:39AM
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I still use synthetic pre-ermergents 3 times a year. I just can't bring myself to change that. I hate weeds.....

Good luck and keep us updated on your progress.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:41AM
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Thanks for your help, I will update as I go through this.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 1:29AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

You can't burn anything with 10 pounds per 1,000...unless it is pure blood meal. I would start there for the simple reason your soil needs to develop the microbial populations to decompose the material. If you don't have the right populations, the stuff will decompose from the "wrong" microbes and they tent do have a sour "aroma." Once you do it once with 10 pounds, then next time you can go to 20. But if you tried 20 first, you might not be happy with how long the smell lingers. You'll notice it with 10 pounds but NOTHING like with an initial jolt of 20 pounds.

On another forum one of the gurus attempted to overdose his lawn with organics. He applied 50 pounds per 1,000 square feet of both milorganite and soy bean meal...every weekend...all summer long. There was never any problem. At the end of the season he had applied over 1,000 pounds per 1,000 square feet to his entire yard.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 9:29PM
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I was hoping someone could educate me on what this grass or weed is popping up through my bermuda. I attached the picture.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 1:21AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

It could be nutgrass. Nutgrass is not really a grass but a sedge. There are no organic solutions to nutgrass except digging it out. It can only be killed with sedge killers like Image and Sedgehammer, but grass killers won't touch it. Be sure it is nutgrass before you do anything.

Pull out one of the plants. Slice through it sideways and look at the shape of the stem. If it is more triangular than round, then it is likely nutgrass. Or you could let it get tall and go to seed. Then look up 'nutgrass seed' on Google and compare pictures to what you see.

This post was edited by dchall_san_antonio on Sun, Jul 7, 13 at 13:14

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 1:12PM
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Thanks for helping me identify that. I did a search and found that molasses will help eliminate nutgrass. I started adding some to the yard yesterday after finding some at walmart (it is unsulferated). $6 for two 12 oz jars seems high so I might have to shop around. We will see how it does. Have you noticed any reduction of additional weeds or grasses by the use of molasses?

FYI, I found an old post of yours that discussed the use of molasses and have some additional info to add. I used about 4 oz of molasses in the Ortho Dial n Spray jar (heating it up a bit in the microwave helps it pour easier), and then added 8 oz of warm to hot water. It mixes very well that way. When using the dial n sprayer, I set it on the 5 oz setting to get the 1000 sq ft area covered. I guess depending on your hoses output of water that might need adjusting, but I thought that might help get some started. I have noticed that some leave out too many key details when discussing their procedures. I hope I have not done the same.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 5:50AM
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