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organic lawn care for the cheap and lazy

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
This thread gives folks an opportunity to talk about this web page


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Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I enjoyed your article "Organic Lawn Care For the
Cheap and Lazy". I have been interested in feeding my
lawn with organic products when I came across your
site. Is this the Ringer product you are referring to?
http://www.saferbrand.com/lawncare/lawncareproducts.htm

It seems your method would suit me. I live on a 1.5
acre lot (3rd summer-new home-new grass) in what used
to be a farm field. It is rural and open. Any other
tips and suggestions?

Thanks,
Adam Wesoloski
Green Bay, WI
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
That's the stuff!

1.5 acres is a lot. Are you sure you want it to be all lawn?

How about some fruit trees? There are varieties of apples that will stay on the tree all winter until you pick them. So whenever you want some apples, just go on out and pick a dozen or so and bring them into the house!

Rather than feeding your grass nitrogen (the primary food that the grass finds in that fertilizer), you might want to plant (or encourage) legumes like clover. The clover will feed nitrogen to the grass. And most clovers don't mind being mowed.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
It sure is a lot of lawn! Takes awhile to cut the stuff. I get teased all the time how long I cut it too! Actually we are planning to get some trees out there. At least I haven't used a great deal of the bad fertilizer in the past.

Clover is an interesting idea. We experimented with wild flowers a couple summers ago but that didn't turn out so well. Is there any specific type of clover to look into?

Thanks,
Adam
j. bruce


Joined: Apr 05, 2005
Posts: 18
Location: York, PA
I'm looking into alternate turf/ground cover practices as well...

I've considered moss, clover, tyme, comfrey, and strawberries. Actually, i haven't thought of this untill now, but a mix of all four of those would work well... but as you can probably understand certain ones are not very practical. However, while most clovers stay low enough to be considered for turf, both comfrey and tyme come in a variety that tolerate quite a bit of traffic and some mowing as well. These seem to be the most promising options.


York, PA, United States
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6 (6a-7a)
Annual Rainfall = 62"
January Temp Avg = 33
July Temp Avg = 76
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
adam,

do you have any clover growing there now?
maria McCoy


Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 49
Location: W. Seattle, WA - planning to be rural soon.....
yarrow is also a good call vs. grass!


~ Spiralmama Herbal Magick ~

Supporting vibrant health in my community by providing education, nutrition, herbal connection and ritual through grateful interaction with Gaia.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I do have smaller patches of clover that grow. Makes me wonder if there is a way to grow and control a section of the yard? Or how does one go about this?

Adam
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I've never planted legumes in a lawn before. They always just sort of show up. I suppose one could froogle on "lawn clover seed"
                        


Joined: Apr 11, 2005
Posts: 1
Great article. Just what I was looking for. Just one question about mowers. I am very interested in a manual mower. No gas to spew, not cords to run over and cheap. The only problem is I have a 10,000 s/f of lawn, a bad back and a large steep hill in the back of my yard. How much harder is it to mow when using a non-powered mower than a powered one in my situation?

Marvin
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
We could talk about riding mowers and self-propelled mowers ...

My thinking is that if you have a lot of acreage, why have so much lawn? Ever thought of an orchard? A garden?
j. bruce


Joined: Apr 05, 2005
Posts: 18
Location: York, PA
If your question is "Is a (cyclic) manual mower harder to use than a standard push mower?" Then the answer is no. If you get a good one the cut is quick and it's easy to push. But i think you've fallen victim to a common misconseption.... Those cyclic mowers aren't cheap!!!

10,000 sq/ft isn't too big (in my opinion) to mow with a manual mower.... if it's square, hell, it's only 100ft x 100ft. For the young and spritley (myself) that would only take 2 hrs with one of those manual mowers, assuming the blades are sharp. That's another thing about those mowers: If the blades aren't sharp, you don't cut well at all. The difference is that you are actually making a cut instead of taking a whack at it with something sharp and knocking it over. Maybe i'm being a little ambitious about the time.

Paul has a good idea. Maybe backyard agroforestry might be something you should look into.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Two hours? It shouldn't take that long.

I will say that a good manual mower will be much easier than a gas mower that is not self-propelled.
j. bruce


Joined: Apr 05, 2005
Posts: 18
Location: York, PA
An aproximation. My time estimation is poor. It takes 45 minutes to do my parent's lawn which is aproximately 5000sq/ft
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
How can I kill the grass that has come up through the rock bed surrounding my above ground pool? I prefer to avoid toxic chemicals.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Would you like to grow anything there?

If you grew some n-fixing shrubs, they would outcompete the grass.

If you want there to be just rocks, a fun one is to use a flame weeder. A hurky big propane torch. Of course, you would need to come back to hit it over and over.

Usually, if I want grass or some other green thing to go away, I pick something green that I want more. Then I find a way for it to outcompete the other green thing.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Another idea just hit me: you could do something to make the pH so skewed that nothing would grow! You could mix up some gardeners sulfur with peat moss and put it down an inch or two thick. Eventually you'll get some moss, but I bet you won't have any grass!

Or, you could lay down lots and lots of lime. I wonder what the pH is of lime - so if your soil was 90% lime, what would be the pH?
j. bruce


Joined: Apr 05, 2005
Posts: 18
Location: York, PA
you could also make a smuthering weed barrier... i'm not so certain that you'd want to do that above your rocks.... maybe remove some and put the newspaper/cardboard down and shovel them back on... maybe that's too hard, but all the same, you could generate some form of supressing barrier. Like i said, if you wanted to get rid of the grass, a barrier of some kind would work temporarily, but i'd assume that it would all come back as soon as the barrier was removed.

I'd also think that an overdose of nitrogen, similar to what paul had just mentioned, would "burn" out the grass. Again, as soon as the soil levels normalize it'll just come back.
j. bruce


Joined: Apr 05, 2005
Posts: 18
Location: York, PA
Just thought of something else... you don't happen to have any Black Walnut trees around, do you? I've heard of sprays made with the seed matter that can spread the jugulone around, serving as an effective herbicide/pesticide.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
And vinegar will kill everything too.

Again, I prefer to replace one kind of growth with another.
j. bruce


Joined: Apr 05, 2005
Posts: 18
Location: York, PA
errrr, rock mulch though... usually people just like to have that their way... barron, instead of natures way, living. Seems to be the preference, which i understand because if you've ever tried to string trim in or around rock mulch, you will wish it was bare as well!
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I have finally discovered that slugs have a beneficial use - they are attracted to what our dogs leave on the lawn - -often finding several of them crawling around in the brown stuff. Then the starlings come along and eat the slugs - - nature at it's best/

We have 2 dogs, one male, one female, and do not have trouble with brown spots from either. neither do my parents, who have 2 females. I think it is often a matter ;of what one is feeding the dog - if brown spots are a big problem, try changing the feed.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I have quickly learned by reading your article that I am doing nearly everything wrong to my lawn. Thank you for the enlightenment. This is very educational info.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Hi, I came across your site looking for some good lawn tips and indeed I found it.

I just moved into a new house, with a new soil/lawn coming in about a month. Sod in the front and seeds in the back. I haven't found out what type of grass yet, but I will.

I wanted to ask, does anyone have any pictures of the types of grass mentioned in the lawn section here? Or any other type of grass. I have about 5000sqft of lawn and am looking for some healthy thick lucious green grass to grow/maintain. Something that's great to play on or sit in.

Thanks for any suggestions.

-tzulo
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
What is the climate like in your area? Does it freeze in winter? That is probably the most important aspect of selecting a variety of grass.
                      


Joined: Apr 22, 2005
Posts: 3
I live about 1 hour north of Chicago, IL.

We have all 4 seasons here. This past winter was mild overall, with proboly a week worth of under 10degreesF.

Here's a link to average temperatures to a nearby city:
http://www.worldclimate.com/cgi-bin/grid.pl?gr=N42W088

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone = 5a
Annual RainFall = 33.9"
January Avg Temp = 18.7F
July Avg Temp = 71.2F

Thanks
( I was user Guest in my previous post ).
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
You will want to focus on cool season grasses.

I saw something like what you are looking for in an ortho book on lawns. If you skip over all the stuff about hosing everything down with chemicals, it's a damn good book!
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
how to prevent ants nest forming under the turf.?
I have just layed a new lawn because I had so many ants nest forming mounts under the turf that it was impossible to cut properly.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Did you read the article on ants and aphids? About DE?

DE could be a help here. Whenever you see a colony forming, dump a scoop or two on them.

Another thing I read somewhere was to plant chives.

There are lots and lots of things to try, but I would try the DE first.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I planted a lawn last fall and now this spring am noticing alot of bald areas. How can I replant more seeds or what should I do ??
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
dig into the bald areas and see what's there. It's possible that the soil is really bad - so bad that re-seeding might not make a difference. Or ... maybe you have grubs! Or something else. The key is to learn more about why the grass didn't take there.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I recently moved into a new home and the lawn is awful! I was looking at replacing the whole area with sod (4,000+ sq feet!) and now I have an alternative! Thanks so much!
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
great article

i went greener a couple years ago...no chems, although i think i still water too much...i'm going to take the advice and cut higher and try your watering methods

i've found the best way to deal with dandelions is the manual method, but one has to be vigilant...i use a 3-foot long tool that doesn't necessitate bending over, but you can use a screwdriver on your hands and knees...most landscaping shops also sell forked specialty tools for this purpose...the key is to get the whole root out, but getting your neighbours to do the same probably is as important...after a 2- or 3-hour day in the spring, i find i can keep weeds under control with 5-10 minutes a day, but you have to stick to the routine...this works for me with a 100 by 150 foot lot

once you just accept the clover, you find it is as green as grass and just as soft...i wouldn't mind an all-clover lawn, to tell you the truth
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Help. How do I get rid of weeds (esp. Solomon's Seal) that grows between, up and through Bar Harbour Junipers closely planted on a slop in the front of my home. It's almost impossible to handweed, and I fear chemicals damaging the numerous junipers?
Abt advuse?
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
"Jerry" wrote:Help. How do I get rid of weeds (esp. Solomon's Seal) that grows between, up and through Bar Harbour Junipers closely planted on a slop in the front of my home. It's almost impossible to handweed, and I fear chemicals damaging the numerous junipers?
Abt advuse?



I would like to know, too. Our slope is very steep, and on a main street?
Thanks to anyone answering Jerry. I will get the message, too.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Thanks for the great info. I like to grow flowers and stuff but never had much success with lawn. I've got lots of dandelions and clover and dew worms to boot . Its like mowing a dusty lunar landscape (yep, I don't water the damn thing either). Any helpful hints regarding those pesky dew worms. About 10 years ago I used a product called Sevin . Didn't kill the worms but I was sick for about 2 weeks. That turned me off pesticides for life. So much about that- would appreciate any info about the fish bait.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I came across your site and was pretty shocked by your advice that it's OK to just leave dog poop on the lawn. Aside from the disease potential being spread from animal to human, there is very little beneficial chemicals in dog poop for grass. In fact, it is far more detrimental to our environment. Contrary to the myth (and your advice), carnivorous animals such as dogs, DO NOT produce usable manure/fertilizer. Usable manure/fertilizer comes from omnivores such as cows, sheep, geese, etc.
When dog poop is not removed, it ends up in our watershed as a polutant. In fact, according to the EPA...Dog waste has been identified as major non-point source (NPS) polutant.
Contrary to what your advice is...it's better to remove/dispose of it from our environment. Need more info? Go to www.thelawndog.com

in an effort to bring the Lawndog to market as a legitimate product, I spent hundreds of hours researching this subject, and (like it or not) know the real scoop.

Sincerely,
JohnCaruso
thelawndog.com
dogsign.com
lawndogsign.com
dogpoopsign.com
nodogpoopsign.com
                      


Joined: Apr 22, 2005
Posts: 3
I had sod put down about 3 weeks ago, and it's taken really well. It's about time to cut the lawn, and I'm wondering:

Should I bag the first cut? or mulch and leave it on there?

Thanks
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15039
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Solomon's Seal: I've never struggled with it - so I guess I don't have any advice. Anybody else?

dew worms: It would seem that I am terribly ignorant. Again, no experience. Anybody else?

dog poop: I would agree that I would prefer to have less dog poop - or none. But I would have to disagree with the point on fertilization: how else might one explain the grass growing taller, greener and thicker around dog poop? I could see dog poop becoming a pollutant - especially on dirt as opposed to soil.

First lawn cut: If the grass will mat or clump, you want to remove it. Otherwise, it is far better to leave it.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Just wanted to say I find your advice useful because I am cheap and lazy and love not having to mow as often and the lawn being thick.
I would like a suggestion of what kind of grass to plant around the 2 red maple trees that put out alot of shade when they are full of leaves.

Lastly as a dog owner I respect other people not wanting a present in the yard- but how many dogs use that sign like a fire hydrant? Seems self defeating to me. Just my 2 cents.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
 
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