Another Newbie - Many questions
Hi. Thanks in advance for what you all have already posted and for any help you can offer me. I've read the Org Lawn FAQ and hours of reading here and I got a book from the library about organic lawn care, and so here's my situation. This might be too long, sorry if it is.
Orlando, St Augustine (not sure what kind, what everyone has, I thought, Floratam??). I bought the house in April. Lawn looked OK, not great. They had a chemical service here, which I used for one treatment in April, before firing them to because I wanted to do it myself, organically. In June damage crept up which I thought was chinch bug so I panicked and got Green Light w/ Arena. This did stop the damage. The sales guy at the nursery convinced me to put down some fertilizer at the same time, which was probably a big mistake in the middle of June! Ever since, I have committed to going totally organic. That's not negotiable. I felt awful after that fertilizer. But I am a perfectionist and determined to do it right.
Anyway, here's what I already do: mulch-mowing on highest setting, usually once a week right now. It might need it more often, but I just don't have time twice a week. Did the tuna can test to know how to water 1/2 to 3/4 inch as needed. Kind of hard this time of year because even though I have a rain gauge, you never know when it will rain. I know about grain fertilizers and was going to do an application of alfalfa or soybean meal in September, then corn gluten in spring (March?).
Here are my numerous problems. I'm having at least six kinds of weeds, some of them pretty heavily infesting certain areas. I don't know most of there names but there's pusley, somethign that looks like sedges (my wife grew uop here and calls these "stickle burrs") - these are extreme on the low-sun east side between mine and my neighbors house. Last time I mowed (last Saturday) I bagged hoping this would lessen the spreading, but now it's Thursday and the seed heads are back all over the place. In the same area there is also a grass like weed that is really green that seems to be taking over the St Augustine. Not sure if it is related to the "stickle burrs", but it's freaking me out that it's takign over the whole lawn. In other areas I also your standard crab grass. I also have another low-growing weed that I don't know the name of, it's spreading on the ground with thin leaves that are green-reddish. Very common around here. I also have acorns sprouting little trees all the time, but that's just cute. Then are are a variety of other green things, many of them flowring, growing here and there.
There are plenty of dead spots from the chinch bug damage, where it's just exposed dead roots. I suppose this area will have to be removed and resodded next spring? Then there are other areas that have been bare that are just not filling in, bare spots. And lately there's been a different kind of thinning that is new - I thought this might have been me burning the lawn with that fertilizer, but it's been two months. Now I think this might be sod webworm because I've seen moths while mowing. Oh, and now I have fire ants, while we're at it, too. It seems where the crabgrass and the bare spots are that the soil is really compacted, if that's the right word. I got some composted chicken manure from my egg farmer (yes, I let it sit for it not to stink too much anymore and it rained that day) and spread that over that area, with some coffee grounds, last weekend. Not sure if this will do anything yet.
It's not helping that my other neighbor's house is a foreclosure with an abandoned lawn - it's nothing but a weed incubator. Furthermore, we're backed into a natural conservation area, which is also full of weed grasses and such.
I'm trying to relax, but I'm really worried because everything just seems to get worse. Maybe that's just panic. When I look from afar, it looks pretty good in many places, but when I look up close, especially at these weeds and the thinning... I'm not a happy organic lawn man. On top of all that my other neighbor, who just moved in, somehow didn't understand our property lines and just today mowed over a good bit into my lawn. WAY TO SHORT, to the point of almost scalping. I just about had a heart attack when I came home. Now I'm worried about that pretty large junk, too. Like I needed more worry.
I would be grateful for any and all advice. Thank you! I have a feeling I will hang out here often!