Tips on getting started on an organic program in the summer. My lawn looks awful with dead spots caused by shade trees(I beleive) in the yard and heavy compacted clay soil.
Really the only thing I do to my tall Fescue in summer is about 10 pounds per thousand of ordinary corn meal (wait for a calm day). It's a mild fertilizer and helps with the fungus problems. Liquid kelp through a hose end sprayer can't hurt either. Other than that it's mow high and not so often, and water deep and infrequent (early morning) in drought conditions.
Now is the perfect time to spread compost over those dead spots and water in. Hot weather gets those microbes multiplying!!
I have always considered the summer the time to spread compost and Canadian peat over the lawn. Works very well for me in Michigan. In fact, I just finished spreading 10 bags of composted manure in those areas that are drying out due to lack of rain. I figure those areas can use a little more organic matter.
Last week I spread two bales of Canadian peat over the lawn section where I have a new maple tree. The grass has exploded with lush growth. (Of course I had to water it in though.)
The two year old maple tree is doing good also. Lush, healthy growth.
+1 rdak This is a great time to spread compost or otherwise increase and feed the microbes and micro insect population in your lawn. Lots of great information in the FAQ below Bill Hill
Here is a link that might be useful: Organic Lawn care FAQ
Welcome to the Organic Lawn Care Forum.
It would help if we knew a little more about your lawn.
Since you said your thinning spots may possibly be caused by the shade of trees, and since it appears you live in Northern Texas, I'm gonna go out on a limb here & guess you're growing bermudagrass.
The previous posters from MO & MI give some great examples or organic things you can do to help your lawn, however, they're geared more towards cool season grasses (and they even say so) such as KBG, TTTF's & ryegrasses.
While it certainly won't hurt anything for you to topdress with compost, and for the areas you're grass is growing well, it'll surely help. My concern however is the shade. If you're growing bermudagrass, it needs 6 to 8 hrs minimum daily of sunshine. The compost won't help you grow bermudagrass if it's shaded out. There's also a different set of cultural practices required for warm season grasses than cool season grasses.
billhill's advise to read through the FAQ's is a great suggestion too.
Let us know what kind of turfgrass you're growing so we can provide more specific help for your situation.
Good day, Dan
You're right Bermuda. I'm in the process of cutting back the trees to give the grass a little more light. Before last year which was really bad with heat an no rain the grass looked fine even with the shade. I remember fertilizing and trying to keep it watered with a sprinkler, but I lost a large portion to Oxil. Since then I invested in an irrigation system. With all the rain this year it rebounded pretty well. I would like to know if you could reed seed and throw compost over the seeded area. There are so many different things you read you don't know where to start.
I would like to know if you could reed seed and throw compost over the seeded area
My 1st inclination is to say no. I had an area in my back yard, about 6 ft by about 16ft & I took out a dead tree, well, after just one season, the bermuda just filled the area right back in. Depending on the size of the bare spots, reseeding really shouldn't be necessary. Bermudagrass spreads easily to cover bare ares.
Regarding topdressing with compost.....I'm guessing you've read thru the Organic lawn Care FAQ's which is why you're considering adding the compost. I gotta tell you that when I went organic, I too read that FAQ & that's why I topdressed my lawn with compost, but if I had it to do over again, I'd make a batch of ACT & apply it. Topdressing your lawn with compost is an expensive & backbreaking proposition. You need approx 1 cu yd of compost for every 1000sqft of turf, then wheel out the wheelbarrow, fling shovelfuls to the turf & then use a pushbroom to even it out & knock off the grass blades & down to the soil. Really you don't have to use either, all you need to do if you want to go organic is to stop using chemicals & start using grains. Unless you've recently had a chemical spill or flood, you have soil microbes already there waiting for you to feed em so they can multiply!
Now, for your bermuda, three golden rules to make it thick & healthy....
#1) Mow short & mow frequently, preferably with a reel mower, but if you use a rotary, the shortest you can go without scalping is best. Personally, I mow @ 5/8" every 3rd day with a Tru-Cut reel mower.
#2) Water deeply & infrequently, deep watering (at least 1" of irrigation to get 8" to 10" of the soil wet) grows deep, drought resistant roots. Infrequent watering allows the top layer of soil to dry completely between waterings which kills off many shallow rooted weeds.
#3) Fertilize every 4 to 6 weeks all throughout the growing season. This year as you convert to organics, you may consider supplementing soybean meal with some coated urea to keep it growing vigorously while you're trying to get those bare areas patched up.
Now then, the final ingredient is patience. None of this stuff happens over-night, so don't get too impatient with it (that was the hardest part for me to learn LOL)
That's my 2 cents