home battery bank*
Permies likes lawn and the farmer likes Adding compost to grass permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login


permies » forums » growies » lawn
Bookmark "Adding compost to grass" Watch "Adding compost to grass" New topic
Author

Adding compost to grass

                            


Joined: Jun 14, 2009
Posts: 4
My soil quality is not so great so would like to do the recommended addition of compost on top in early fall.  2 questions:

1.  when is early fall in northeast / New York City suburb?  should I do this in early October?

2.  how do I apply it, do I just spread it on top or does it need to somehow be leveled or compacted?

thanks
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
First of september.

Do NOT compact it!

Spread it thin and let the grass grow up through it.


sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
jeremiah bailey


Joined: May 05, 2009
Posts: 343
If you find that it is not even when you spread it, you can do this. Take a steel bow rake or aluminum landscape rake and flip it so the flat side of the head is down instead of the tines. You can then spread the compost in such a way that it is even, level, and not compacted. Just dump a wheelbarrow in a spot and spread the compost from there.


"Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it." - Helen Keller
--
Jeremiah Bailey
Central Indiana
                            


Joined: Jun 14, 2009
Posts: 4
great, thanks for help!

I am still struggling with why it does not need to be aerated.  Wouldn't it help the compost to penetrate and mix with the existing heavy/clay if it were first aerated?
jeremiah bailey


Joined: May 05, 2009
Posts: 343
Two things happen. First, worms love compost. They'll eat the compost and deposit worm castings as they travel through your soil. They also aerate your soil for you. Second, as it rains the compost becomes a sort of compost tea as the water passes through it into the soil.
Aerating has some limited uses with organic lawn care. It can be useful for breaking up a severely thatched lawn. It really came to being as a way to compensate for killing off natural soil aerators with chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
To sum it up, it really won't hurt if done properly. But, it really is just an extra, unnecessary step in most cases.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
An aerator only goes about two inches deep.  And then it's iffy that your compost will get into the aeration hole. 

If the real problem is that your soil is more like dirt, aeration is going to do almost nothing for you, but improving your soil will do a lot for you.

Dave Miller


Joined: Jun 08, 2009
Posts: 396
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
    
  10
I have found that when leveling compost or dirt, a rope tied to a wooden pallet which is pulled over the compost/dirt does a great job of filling in the holes and making a nice smooth surface.  Be sure to use a fat rope and gloves so you don't kill your hands.

When we put a lawn in our front yard, I tied a pallet to a motorcycle and dragged it around and around until it was all smooth.  I rode 13 miles in our front yard!  But it is fairly big - 75'x75'.
jeremiah bailey


Joined: May 05, 2009
Posts: 343
That's a great idea, adunca. Makes me wish I'd saved one of the pallets I just sent to the recycler.
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
jeremiah bailey wrote:
That's a great idea, adunca. Makes me wish I'd saved one of the pallets I just sent to the recycler.


Wow, great idea! I'll have to try that
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I hunk of fence weighted down with rocks will help level compost nicely too.

let those worms work for you! they will do far more for the soil than mechanically aerating will.


[img]http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n52/havlik1/permie%20pics2/permiepotrait3pdd.jpg[/img]

"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
Duh.  ops: I just remembered I have a york rake that attachesto my kubota
jeremiah bailey


Joined: May 05, 2009
Posts: 343
But the looks you'll get from the neighbors when you're draggin' a piece of fence around your yard would be priceless. Not to mention, you'd save the wear and tear on your york rake.
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
jeremiah bailey wrote:
But the looks you'll get from the neighbors when you're draggin' a piece of fence around your yard would be priceless. Not to mention, you'd save the wear and tear on your york rake.


Good point 
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
  The ringers has made the grass a very deep green and it looks really, really  good. It took about three weeks to begin to show results , but the wait is well worth it. It's pricey, at 25 per bag. I picked up some Agway organic, which is essentially the same thing, but covers almost double the sq footage. I'll compare the results by spreading it on the rear.

The compost is helping too, (I think) but I have to sift it to a finer consistency. I've been walking all over my yard breaking up the big chunks that were smothering the grass. It's probably way to early to see true results, and I think I'll wait until fall to spread the rest. I'll mow lower before spreading, which I do anyway in the fall  to prevent winter snow mold.  This should make it easier to spread evenly.
                                  


Joined: Jul 27, 2009
Posts: 1
Is there something that needs to be done to get worms into your lawn after composting?  Do you have to "seed" your lawn with a batch of worms or do the worms just migrate over after seeing that you've composted?

When should composting and fertilizing be done in the fall?  Compost first? Fertilize first? (if at all?) How long in between the two?

Thanks!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Don't worry about the worms.  They'll show up when the conditions are right.  A few really advanced folks will seed with very specific kinds of worms, but that's another story for another day.

Fertilizing should be done in the early fall when your grass starts growing like gangbusters again.

Composting is something you do as soon as you have compostable materials handy.  Just start a pile!

jeremiah bailey


Joined: May 05, 2009
Posts: 343
I think the question is about spreading compost. Fall is a good time to spread compost. Other than that, you can do whatever. Fertilize then spread compost. Spread compost then fertilize. Spread compost mixed with fertilizer. That last one can be done, but it is a waste of time to first mix the two. Fertilize at the recommended times. That is also a good time to spread compost because the grass will be not dormant and hold the compost in place better. When the grass is dormant during the summer, everything is dry. The grass is dry and thin(ner) and the compost is dry and crumbly. This makes the compost more susceptible to erosion.

As long as you're composting and fertilizing with organic materials, your worms should be happier. The toxic goo that passes as fertilizer and pesticide makes your worms very unhappy and leave town.

I very much doubt your soil is totally worm free. You probably haven't found them yet. Their numbers will increase over time. Also, I noticed more during the spring than I do now. But then again, I haven't done much digging since spring.
                                  


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 99
I learned from my first spreading experience.

First, I have many rocks in mine from scraping the ground when I turn it with my Kubota.  I screened it through a 2" screen and it wasn't small enough. I've been picking rocks and crumbling clumps for a week  I have to screen it finer next time

Second, I made the mistake a driving over some of the compost after I spread i (yes, with my noisy, stinky, diesel tractor). That flattened isome of the compost out making little pancakes all through my lawn  smothering the grass underneath.

Last, The grass should be shorter. It would spread better. I cut lower in the fall (last cut) which helps prevent snow mold. I'll spread the rest after that cutting
                                      


Joined: Mar 23, 2010
Posts: 2
Hi all

My first post on these forums, which I am ELATED to have found.

Very new to the ideas of permaculture but even gardening in general.

About the worms . . . I understand the concept of worms, but just wondering how I get them.  We left leaves on the lawn in the fall and they are intact.  Of course I am in Minnesota so not sure if anything would have been happening over the winter even if there had been worms.

Our soil is compacted and awful in our back yard.  I will aerate if it will help, but seems that according to the advice here, it's not worth the effort.

As far as compost, will aged horse manure work ok?

Not sure if I should have piggybacked here or started my own thread.  Hopefully people find this to answer.

THANKS ALL!!
Kelli
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
It is possible that you don't have any worms. 

Did you read my lawn care article?  Especially the part with the worm?

Of course, worms won't eat all of your leaves - so they might be there.

When it warms up a bit, take a shovel out and look for worms.
                                      


Joined: Mar 23, 2010
Posts: 2
I did read it.  I got a kick out of Fernando, but we haven't used chemical stuff so I guess I kind of put it out of my mind.  That said, we live downhill from a bunch of people, and also who knows what happened here before we ever lived here.

Everything is so confusing!  Some people say aerate, others no.  Some people say corn meal, others no.  Some people say compost, some say commercial fertilzer, some say all of it!    So I have all these ideas of stuff we COULD do, but not sure which of it to do first or how to choose what to do.  I need to go over your article with a fine-toothed comb and start to put together an actual plan.

My friend is going to help me take a look at the soil and from there we will see . . . eeeeeek!  I guess if we keep trying stuff, we are bound to hit on SOMETHING that works 
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
fidgiegirl wrote:Everything is so confusing!  Some people say aerate, others no.  Some people say corn meal, others no.  Some people say compost, some say commercial fertilzer, some say all of it!     So I have all these ideas of stuff we COULD do, but not sure which of it to do first or how to choose what to do.  I need to go over your article with a fine-toothed comb and start to put together an actual plan.

My friend is going to help me take a look at the soil and from there we will see . . . eeeeeek!  I guess if we keep trying stuff, we are bound to hit on SOMETHING that works 


I think the plan of looking with your friend and trying things out is excellent.

fidgiegirl wrote:I understand the concept of worms, but just wondering how I get them.  We left leaves on the lawn in the fall and they are intact.  Of course I am in Minnesota so not sure if anything would have been happening over the winter even if there had been worms.

Our soil is compacted and awful in our back yard.  I will aerate if it will help, but seems that according to the advice here, it's not worth the effort.

As far as compost, will aged horse manure work ok?


I don't have much experience with horse manure, but I remember reading that it's OK if it's old enough. For some animals, adding some sawdust (or leaves that have been chopped by your lawnmower) and waiting a few days helps.

Leaving some wood, brush, or leaves a couple inches thick and in contact with the soil during the spring is usually enough to foster worms in that particular spot. I've seen them make their way into all sorts of seemingly isolated locations, as long as it's reasonably moist, well-ventilated, and warm. A dusting of coffee grounds wouldn't hurt, either. Maybe an edge and/or a dead spot would be a good place to try that out, partly for your sake but partly as a way to build up their population to prepare for better conditions on the rest of the property.

I think starting a compost pile would be worth doing early.

For the back yard, if you didn't mind being un-conventional, there might be some pioneering plant you could sow in the lawn to help ease the compaction.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
                              


Joined: Apr 10, 2010
Posts: 1
I have a question about spreading compost on the lawn!
I am four seasons into my organic lawn care, and am darn proud of myself, even if it is a steep learning curve. I am in a constant battle with crabgrass, and lack of money has kept me from doing the proper steps at the proper times for the last couple of years. I did manage to put down the corn gluten fertilizer/crabgrass preventer last spring, and did the correct mowing/watering techniques, but I haven't been able to add a layer of compost in a couple of years. I have a compost pile that now has plenty of usable soil. I will sift it, but I am afraid of adding a whole bunch of new weeds to my already weedy lawn. Is this an issue? I know i can kill weed seeds by covering my soil with black plastic and letting them bake in the sun, but should I do this to my compost before I spread it? If I do this, will I then also kill off all the good stuff?

I also have some areas in my back yard(shady, front is blazing sunny) that are kind of mossy and compacted, and pool in the rain. Doesn't it make sense to aerate this? I do have lots of worms, but this is pretty solid.  Th nice man at my local nursery that carries lots of organic stuff said he will test my soil for me, which I know is an important step. I was getting ready to aerate, i can rent the machine for 50 bucks. Can't hurt, is what I am getting?

I live on Long Island, NY. Moderate temps, hot and humid summers, not terrible winters, but gets pretty cold.  Thanks!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15218
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
If you have fifty bucks burning a hole in your pocket, I want you to put it in the bank and save it for 20 years.  When you have a million dollars, then you can send the fifty bucks to me.

I hereby give you permission to have crabgrass.  Wherever it pops up, that's where there was some bare soil or thin turf - the crab grass is filling it in for you.

I hereby give you permission to stop buying the corn gluten stuff.  Put that money into your savings account.  And take the time you used to use fiddling with it to drink lemonade out on your lawn. 

I hereby give you permission to not use your compost for your lawn, but for a garden.  After four years of doing things organically on your lawn, it shouldn't need compost.

There is no need to do the thing with the plastic that I can think of.

As for getting weeds in your lawn:  if you have been mowing high and watering properly. you should be have a really thick, tall turf now.  If you threw 40 pounds of weed seed on your lawn that would act like lawn fertilizer.  Most of the seeds would eventually germinate and die (as opposed to with the corn gluten stuff where the seeds become dormant and wait until you stop putting the corn gluten stuff down).

As for the spots that are mossy, compacted and pool in the rain.  Can you send us pics?  I suspect that we might want to add a little lime.  The soil test just for that spot sounds wise.  I wonder if the pH is really low.









 
 
subject: Adding compost to grass
 
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books