Binkalette
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Posts: 139
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:53 pm
Location: Minnesota - zone 4a

Organic Help for our lawn?

I posted this in the lawn care forum, but nobody has replied there.. I thought maybe I would get more responses if I posted it here. I hope that's ok. :)

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We bought our first house last spring and the empty lot next to it. the lot our house sits on isn't so bad.. there is more grass than weeds (still plenty of weeds though) and no bare spots. The second lot though looks like the contractor just drove off yesterday. It's almost all weeds, mostly weeds that look like grass but aren't, and there are HUGE bare spots. We thing the biggest bare spot may have been killed off by a fungus as it is in a circular shape. I looked around at some fungicide and weed killer products, but they are all horrible and not safe to use on the yard with our dogs.

What can I do to get some grass back.. organically? The lot is really big.. large enough for another house+yard, so covering all the ground with newspaper/soil isn't going to be very feasible. Sad We've thought about trying to find somewhere that could drop off a truck load of topsoil and try to spread that out over the bare spot and then plant some grass seeds on top.. what do you think?

And is there anything organic that can take care of fungus? I've read about cinnamon being used on house plants to keep fungus from growing, would that work in the yard?

Thanks!

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smokensqueal
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Here is usually the problem. A typical lawn is usually so large and is planted with non native grass. This makes growing it to look like a nice plush carpet is very hard especially organically. Really all I can say is if you want a completely weed free lawn find a native grass for your area and compost compost, compost. I use compost around my trees and about a foot out from the compost the grass is so green.

As far as the dead spot it's hard to say. I would bring in a small amount of topsoil and put it over top with a lot of compost and try that.

Dillbert
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hardly a turf expert here - but...

organic lawn care centers around keeping the grass so healthy and happy that it crowds out the weeds.

it's a good theory, but in a 'fresh from builder' lot, can be quite a challenge to accomplish in a strict organic mode.

how big is the lot? small areas hand control (picking/plucking/digging out/burning) can be useful - bit (overwhelmingly) labor intensive on acres . . . I managed to de-dandelion ¾ acres over three years just by digging them out – but perseverance is key.

first off is a soil test - find out what the pH and nutrient values are of the soil "as is" - working to correct stuff 'out of whack' will allow the grass to thrive and do it's crowd out thing. Somebody wrote a book - I think - that postulated you could tell the adverse soil conditions by the weeds that are overflowing growing in the grass. but I'd have to dig some to find that reference.

>>circular shape fungus / die off - any tree stumps left over? that kind of pattern is classic to a buried stump - cut off and left to rot, with side effects . . . .

Binkalette
Senior Member
Posts: 139
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:53 pm
Location: Minnesota - zone 4a

No there are no tree stumps, just a big dead area with some small weeds on it. This land was a grassy field, turned cow pasture, then sold and built on. The second lot is about 1/2 an acre. I bought a couple of soil test kits and did them last week.. The PH is very basic, and everything else (nitrogen, phosphorus, potash) came back very low. I am not sure how reliable the tests are though..

I am looking into the native grass. I tried googling native grasses but couldn't come up with anything. I just sent an email to a local prairie/wetland conservation center to see if they know of any native grasses that I could use.


Here are some pictures of the second lot:

[img]https://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l208/Binkalette/IMG_1686.jpg[/img]
This one I took about a week ago.. you can kind of see the dead area I'm talking about but not really well since.. well.. everything around it is still pretty dead.


You can see it a bit better in this one I took last year. The soil in the bare area there is all solid clay and rocks.
[img]https://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l208/Binkalette/IMG_0641.jpg[/img]

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gixxerific
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That is a tough one since it isn't your yard. The tough part it could cost some money and a lot of time. You can fix it but it won't happen over night.

I think you have the right idea by bringing in topsoil a mix of compost and soil would be even better. But that could get expensive trucking in soil to fix someone else's problem. Though sometime that is what has to be done. Oh and don't forget the seed lots of seed, more so in the fall, spring is not a very great time to plating grass seed, fall is much better. If you keep doing that it will eventually become grass though it will take some time and money.

I have just started using corn gluten though higher in price than chemical fertilizers it seem to be kicking some major butt over my neighbors that have used chemical ferts. Good luck with your endeavor it may be a long ride but well worth it in the end.

Also who is going to cut that grass once it starts growing?

Another thing to think about is that when and if they put a house there all you work will destroyed. I don't want to put you off but you must think about that.

Binkalette
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Location: Minnesota - zone 4a

No no no, that is our yard. It was -intended- to be sold off to have houses built on it, but we purchased it instead and are keeping it as part of our yard. We already mow the "grass" that is there. So any fixes we do will be for good (though my husband wants to build a shop on the far end... :P )

Just curious, what other kinds of organic fertilizers are there? Do Bone and Blood meal count? Last year I got some Scotts stuff that greened up the lawn for a little while, but didn't last. I just got some bone and blood meal this year, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm not shooting for a picture perfect lawn, just one that is green and not 80% thistle. :)

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gixxerific
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Oh I see! :lol:

Well caryy on than and do it right. Not so sure on the blood, bone meal. I'm sure it would work but t would take a bunch of it, I have never seen big bags of it.

You could look into [url=https://www.eartheasy.com/article_corn_gluten.htm]Corn gluten[/url]. It is a very safe and healthy fertilizer for your ground. It is slow relase and will not burn. It also works as a per emergant to a certain extent, though it is best used a few weeks ago for that.

DoubleDogFarm
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Dark spots could be fairy rings or maybe cranefly.

I'm no fan of lawns, I would treat it more like a pasture. Over seed it with a local pasture mix. I would also broadcast maybe 10 pounds of clover seed.

One thought would be to mow it short and rent a dethatcher, power thatcher. This would loosen up the surface, broadcast your seed and spread a lite layer of compost. A healthy pasture may only need mowing twice a year, if that.

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smokensqueal
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Someone brought up a good point. The type of weed that's growing may indicate what your soil need. A good example is clover. If you have a large patch of clover your soil need nitrogen. Blood meal or dried blood is a good fix for that. Another thing that you should do is in the fall aerate (with the plugs) then seed again and put down a good amount of compost.

Another good resource would be to contact your local extension office. They should be able to point you in the right direction. Here is a link that should be able to get you started.

[url]https://www.extension.umn.edu/[/url]

Binkalette
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Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:53 pm
Location: Minnesota - zone 4a

Hmm.. okay.. we definitely need more nitrogen then.. we have TONS of clover. I really enjoyed the clovers last year though.. there was a whole patch of it surrounding my raised garden and it attracted TONS of bee's to my plants. :)

The weed I really want to get rid of is the thistles! We have lots of those really sharp, pokey thistles. My husband has been going around digging them out with a shovel, but new ones keep coming up.

I'll try the blood meal and see what that does.

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rainbowgardener
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I'm with DDFarms. Maintaining a nice lawn is quite labor intensive and maintaining an acre (or whatever you have with two lots) of it is a daunting task. If you really want to invest that much time and energy (and $$) in grass you could get your huge lawns in shape over a period of a few growing seasons. It is NOT a one season project.

But it's hard for me to imagine that you bought the extra lot just so you could have more grass.... huge, boring expanse of lawn..

Turn it into meadow or prairie. If you put some paths through it and wide edging all around, it will look very maintained, while being still natural plantings. Grow veggies or herbs or flowers (or all of the above) or landscape it with shrubs and trees (the latter also not being a one season project) and perennials....
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

DoubleDogFarm
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I looked at your photos again. Working with a blank canvas. What I could do with that :idea: What I know now, what I didn't now then.

Edible Forest, Fruit and nut tree upper story, fruiting bushes lower story, cover crop of comfrey, clover, vetch, flowers. Ponds, paths, boulders.

Food not lawns, is probably not the answer you were looking for. :wink:

[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DSC01926.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DSC01201.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DSC01196-1.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DucksGeeseRoses007.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Geesenewarea003.jpg[/img]

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gixxerific
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Everyone is hating on grass. This is not the only place I have seen it.

Now don't get me wrong I am a firm believer in the less grass idea, if I had a "secluded" place I would do this myself. But looking at Binkalette's pic it looks at though they are in a subdivision and in a high profile spot at that. Could be wrong here. But many subdivisions have rules you are supposed to follow. And many would not like you going all permaculture on them. I know mine wouldn't they would try to boot me out. There have been small wars in mine over less invasive things (did I just say invasive while talking permaculture :shock: :lol: )

Not too say that a bunch of trees wouldn't be a bad idea but there may be a limit to how far you could push it.

Again I'm not saying that is a bad idea but I would look into any rules beforehand, that's all.

DoubleDogFarm
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Now don't get me wrong I am a firm believer in the less grass idea, if I had a "secluded" place I would do this myself
Why does this embarrass you in some way :wink: :lol:

Yes, It looks a bit like a subdivision and a culdesac. I also see what looks like commercial buildings in the background. Huge wide roads :?

Maybe Binkalette can grow organic fruits and vegetables for the whole neighborhood.
I know mine wouldn't they would try to boot me out. There have been small wars in mine over less invasive things
I would have booted myself out, right after seeing the subdivision covenants. 8)

Binkalette, we need a little more input from you, if we haven't scared you away :)

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Sage Hermit
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Location: Finlaysen, MN Coniferous Forest

Binkalette - here in MN there is a very tall grass that turns cotton white and I am trying to get a hold of it. [url=https://www.wildflower.org/plants/combo.php?distribution=MN&habit=habit_grass&duration=&light_sun=1]MN Grass[/url] :hide:

[img]https://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa267/adaba/PCD1767_IMG0082.jpg[/img]
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.



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