Compost on existing lawn necessary etc...
Attempting to go organic with my lawn care.
Have never really done anything to my lawn over the past 6 or so years except mow it. It's a very large yard in the country.
Now it's starting to look a LOT shabby, so have decided to do something about it. Has many bare spots (at least partially related to shade) and I'm thinking a lot related to hardpack/pan conditions.
Plan is as follows.
1. Aerate lawn with plug aerator.
2. Sprig bare areas with broken up sod I'm removing for a garden plot.
3. Fertilize with 12 lbs/1000 sqft soybean meal (if I can find it) or alfafa meal if I can't at 20 lbs/1000 sqft.
Note that lawn has only been fertilized once over the past 7 years and that time it was done with some generic chemical 10/10/10.
Also note that I have not used any pesticides or herbicides over the same period of time.
Have done no raking of grass clippings etc.
1.Is it necessary for me to apply a mulch to this particular lawn to start getting some results? Would you recommend it under the circumstances? Money is an object so was considering municipal compost BUT, I got some to look at a couple years back and there was definitely some strange material included in the mix. Maybe I could look over that for my lawn (not my garden) in an attempt to get things rolling this go round. However, I'm concerned about weed seeds, pesticides etc.
Also have many bags of Black Kow lying around, but they are lying around because I'm reluctant to use that now too. Also noticed some "stuff" in it that is not animal related. Also, noticed that it contains a LOT of fine sand and I think it really messed up some of my raised beds because of the sand fines and compactability it created.
Another option would be pine bark fines (not nuggets.... it's more like a peat substitute and has been "aged" so it doesn't tie up nitrogen like some of the other stuff). I can purchase this in bulk and it might do the trick. However, I'm concerned about altering my PH lower. My ph is already 5.9. The unlimed ph of the pine bark fines is 4.5. Is my concern justified? Really don't want to add lime because I haven't added it in the past to maintain the 5.9. And, according to the soil report, they are NOT recommending adding lime at this ph (note that buffer ph is 7.75.... whatever that means).
Really just wondering if I need to add compost. Guess I would really rather not, just wondering the consequences.
2. I had a soil test done and it indicated everything in the high range with the exception of potassium which was low and at 34 lbs per acre.
I'm considering adding greensand to bring this back up to the high levels at 10 lbs per 100 ft2... but that is going to be HIGH on the dollar side. What do you recommend I do under these circumstances?
3. When I took the soil sample, it was for gardening purposes and it's from the same soil that the lawn is planted on. I removed the sod just prior to taking the sample, so it's indicative of the rest of my yard. However, the soil is not really of the depth that the grass roots are growing in because when I removed the sod, it was ballpark 4 inches deep (including grass and roots) and I took the soil sample from beneath that level (ballpark an additional 4 to 6 inches down. Question is is this still going to give me an accurate report or do I need to do another one in the "rooted" area of the soil.
4. I can rent a plug aerator for about 40.00 per day. I can buy one for around 180.00. At first I was just going to go ahead and purchase one thinking I'd get to reuse it on my lawn. It was kind of a no brainer. However, after reading more about organic lawns, I'm hearing that I won't need to aerate after going organic. If this is true then I could save some money. Any thoughts as to whether I can skip the purchase?
5. I'm going to be renting a rototiller for the garden this year and was wondering if in the big areas that I have bare spots in, if maybe I should rototill those areas and then sprig the grasss. Or, will just aerating and sprigging do the trick?
6. Grass type. Not certain of the type, but know it's a mix of bahaia that is the native on the old field and something that was spriged from sod grown locally (I'm thinking bermuda but not sure). How can I know what the grass is (don't know exactly where it came from). Would anything else other than bermuda be sprigged/sodded around these parts? It has a blade not unlike the bahaia, but definitely doesn't have the big stolons. What do you think?
5. Kind of unrelated but someone here might know.
Last year, when I started my garden, I removed the sod where it would be planted because I didn't want grass & weeds growing up in my garden. Worked quite well and didn't have a whole lot of weeds/grass this year. My intentions are to plant a cover crop so all should be good for next spring.
Anyway, started thinking about it and was wondering what would happen if I did one of the following:
1. Just rototilled up the grass and let it decay in the garden.
2. Removed the sod and turned it upside down in the plot I did last year and let it decay, rather than planting a cover crop, or, potentially planting a cover crop in that.
I've been gearing up for going organic for a LONG time now (thus the use of no fertilizers or pesticides on my lawn) but now it's time to do something. Hopefully my timing is right this go round.
Sure could use some help getting going.