Advice please for starting home lawn program

dgeesamanAugust 15, 2008

Hello everyone. I'm a new homeowner with a house and yard that are 2 years old. I'm interested in doing more than just mowing the grass, but I don't want to tie up hours each weekend. I don't mind physical labor, in fact I always need the exercise. I want to figure out which techniques are the highest priority so that the time I do spend is of value.

The lawn:

1/3 acre of patchy rye grass lawn, 2 years old. Weeds remaining (what I haven't pulled by hand) are white clover and crabgrass. All parts of the lawn get direct sun at some point in the day. Drains from back to front and the slope from the house to the sideway is very patchy and dry. The soil in front left after the home construction is just subsoil and is hard and shaly.

My resources:

- a good equipment rental shop down the road

- pickup truck with bedliner

- access to plenty of semi-composted horse manure (wood-shavings)

- a wooded area behind my lawn (on my property) to make my own compost pile

- a 20" push mulching mower

I found several things I can do based on internet research. Please suggest which will provide the most value for my situation. If you have ideas how/when to do them that's appreciated also.

1) core aerate in the fall

2) create home pile of the horse manure, let it fully compost, and spread over existing grass

3) mow frequently, even when it's hot and growth isn't very much

4) get a soil test done and apply lime to make things more neutral

5) try to eradicate the crabgrass (this bothers me some)

6) try to eradicate the white clover (this bothers me only a little)

7) start over on the front lawn, rototilling in compost and lime and reseed.

Thanks in advance for your input.

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dgeesaman

I forgot a couple more basic things I'm considering:
8) watering (I don't expect solid green all summer, but if it helps make the turf survive better I'll do it)
9) overseeding

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 12:55PM
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shuber

check out the FAQ section on this site and look at organic gardening. good luck.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 9:52PM
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greeness

Starting a compost heap can provide a low cost source of organic fertilizer and mulch for your gardens, while leaving grass clippings on your lawn will provide nutirents to the grass. This practice is debatable among those who want the picture perfect lawn, but if you're going green, it's a consideration. Here's a link to an article containing tips for getting started with organic lawncare. I hope it helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Ten Tips for Green Lawn Care

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 4:59PM
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bpgreen(5UT)

What practice is debatable? Leaving the clippings? If you've got a typical cool season lawn (rye, bluegrass or fescue) it'll be healthiest if mowed high. If you stick to the rule that you don't cut off more than 1/3 the height of the grass and use a mulching mower, the clippings will rarely be visible.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 1:24AM
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soccer_dad

Number 8 is number 1. Water is the lifeblood of both the plant and the microbes that inhabit the soil. This is especially important starting out. In a few years you may only rely on rain, but for now it is very important to water deeply and infrequently. 2. Feed the lawn with proteins. Then the results of your other steps will provide more value.

Make sure to keep your mower blades sharp and balanced.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 8:37AM
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spazboy357(6b/7a Long Island,NY)

Shuber - Not to be picky, but what FAQ are you referring to? There isn't one for this forum.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 1:45PM
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soccer_dad

Here you go.

Here is a link that might be useful: Organic Lawn Care FAQ

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 6:48PM
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spazboy357(6b/7a Long Island,NY)

Thank you, soccer dad.

One has to wonder why the heck that isn't linked at the top of the Organic Lawn Care forum....

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 11:33PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

1. Contact your local office of the Pennsylvania State University USDA Cooperative Extension Service about having a good, reliable soil test done.
2. If your soil is compacted, core aerate.
3. If needed, according to the soil test, spread lime.
4. Right now do not worry about the crabgrass which is an annual and will be dying soon anyway.
5. Do not worry about the White Dutch Clover which is adding needed Nitrogen to your soil. WDC is a good thing to have in an organic lawn.
6. Rototilling is a lot of hard work and may not be necessary. Spread Compost over the lawn, not too thickly, now and let the soil bacteria work it in for you. Those "weeds" that concern you will by dying for the winter soon anyway and this will give you, and your grass, a chance to fill in where those "weeds" grew.
7. Keep your lawn mowed. High, to a point, is better since that gives more leaf blade a chance to utilize more sunlight to manufacture necessary nutrients to feed the grass crown which will then send out more grass blades to absorb more sunlight.
8. Water, as needed. Every where you go people will tell you that your lawn will need 1 inch of water per week. that depends on the weather. Hot, dry, and windy weather will mean a lawn needs more water than that and cool, cloudy, calm weather can mean a lawn needs less water.
9. Overseeding is most often not necessary since a lawn properly cared for will grow and fill in faster than new seeds can germinate and grow. About the only people that will tell you that you do need to overseed are those with grass seed to sell.

  1. Mulch mow. The grass clippings can be a source of nutrients for your lawn, up to 1/2 the annual nutrient requirments of your lawn. Lawn clippings do not contribute to thatch buildup in the lawn, that is from improper fertilizing, applying too much weed killer, and applying poisons that kill the Soil Food Web so there is nothing to digest the dead plant matter.

Here is a link that might be useful: PSUCES

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 7:39AM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Good advice here. Watering it right and consistently and mowing it right and consistently is most of the battle.

I agree muchly with the recommendation to topdress with a good compost at least once to start an organic program.

I personally would overseed a weak lawn with good seed appropriate for the area.

My fertilzer approach is to put down two 20 lb per thousand applications of organic fert in the fall (Sep and Oct here) then about Thanksgiving when the grass gets its first hard freeze I put down 1 pound per thousand urea. Next spring I put put down 20 lbs per thou about Mid May.

This year I put down a light feeding mid-summer (10 lbs CGM) and it seemed to help.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 12:40PM
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