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Organic lawn care for the cheap and lazy in Southern California  RSS feed

 
                                
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OK, so I'm sold on the Organic lawncare for the cheap and lazy method, and I've been recommending it to my friends.  What I haven't been able to find is information specific for Southern California.

My environment

  • [li]I live in Riverside, CA.  Temperatures in the summer can get up to 100, but 90 is average.  Temps in the winter average in the 60's and as low as 40's at night.  Except when it's raining, which isn't often, humidity is low.  I live at the top of a hill, where there is very strong wind every day in the afternoon, which with the heat, is very drying.  [/li]
    [li]My soil is lousy, with maybe 4 inches of top soil, and then lots of rocks, sand, and clay.  [/li]
    [li]I have Tall Fescue, according to the TrueGreen guys.  [/li]
    [li]For most of the time we've owned this house, about 10 months, I've watered daily for 10 minutes.[/li]


  • My TrueGreen experience
    My neighbors use them and their lawn looks great.  Best in the neighborhood in fact.  The TrueGreen guys came over and burnt my lawn.  It took months for grass to recover.  That and me having three small kids, prompted me to look for something more friendly.

    My attempts
    So last fall I found the Organic lawncare guide and have been trying to get it to "work" for me.  I learned my lawn soil was lousy, so spread about .5"-1" of 70-30 (70% top soil/30% compost) last fall, worked it in so that the grass wasn't covered, and then reseaded some small sections that were bare.  Some of the grass grew, but most didn't, although the birds didn't help. 

    I've also swiched to watering three times a week for 15 minutes each time.

    When working on the sprinklers, I found worms!  This is something I didn't notice before, so I believe the soil is improving.

    My problems
    My lawn is worse than when I started 10 months ago.  It's splotchy, and a variety of colors, from green to brown. 


  • [li]Rabbits - We've had some rabbit infestations last fall which tore up some sections of the lawn.  They ate the grass short and peed/pooped on sections.  The rabbits are now gone (no killing, just barriers), but the areas they've ruined are still horrible.  I covered these areas with extra 70-30 and reseaded, but still mostly bare and the grass that is growing is short and doesn't do much.  I'm sure the pee is long gone, but I know the poop is still there, breaking down.  I figured it would be good fertilizer, but now I'm questioning it. [/li]
    [li]Water - I can't seem to get the watering correct.  Sometimes it looks green, sometimes brown, sometimes yellow.  My wife says yellow means too much water, but it feels dry.  Overall, I think I'm underwatering it, but am not sure.  Can you give a lawn too much water?  [/li]
    [li]Clovers - I have a patch, about 2'x3' of solid clovers.  I believe this is because of lack of nitrogen?   If I spread some organic fertilizer, will this take care of it? There's no grass there at all. [/li]
    [li]Bare spots - Is it too early in the year to resead the bare spots?  The grass is not growing very fast right now, so I'm wondering if new grass will germinate in this weather.[/li]


  • Thanks for the help!
     
    paul wheaton
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    Tall fescue:  I think you need a different kind of grass.  A warm season grass.  Since I've only grown grass up north, I'm not sure of what would be a good warm season grass for you.  But I do know that the warm season grasses are superior in areas where it never freezes.

    Rabbits:  Dem's good eatin!

    Water:  it is possible to overwater, and I think you might be.  The best thing to do is to stick a shovel in the soil and take a good look!

    Soil:  Four inches of top soil is a damn good start!  With care, you might be able to get it deeper.

    As for all of your other issues:  Let's wait until we get the right kind of grass growing. 

    Can anybody recommend a good, warm season grass?



     
                                    
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    Thanks for the quick response!  Love your site.

    As to the grass, I could be wrong.  The entire neighborhood is the same stuff.  The community was build about 8 years ago, and all the lawns were put in by the builder. 

    The thing that makes me think this is that you state a cold weather grass goes dormant in the summer.  Mine is the oposite.  It grows like crazy in the summer and is fairly dormant right now.  I waited 3 weeks between mowings and there wasn't much to mow.

    Would a photo help?  Close up or distant?
     
    paul wheaton
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    I'm not sure what tall fescue would do where it doesn't freeze. 

    I do know that warm season grasses tend to grow great when it gets really hot while TF goes dormant in the heat. 

    So maybe you don't have TF?

    I can say this:  using all that water is gonna wash soil nutrients away and, in a weird way, leave your grass even drier!
     
                                    
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    Yeah, I'm starting to believe I don't have Tall Fescue as well.  Weird though, because half of the seed sold at local stores (Home Depot, Lowe's) is Tall Fescue.  Any way to know for sure?
     
    paul wheaton
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    There is probably a way to find out for sure.    We can certainly narrow it down.      Start by posting several pictures.  I can probably narrow it down to four.  Once your pic collection is here, maybe somebody else will be able to identify it for sure.  Maybe we can even find somebody else to weigh in that is just that savvy in identifying grass varieties.
     
                                    
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    Well, here's a start of the photos and also a problem.  You can see my normal grass for the bulk of the photo.  In the middle is a much ligher plant.  I have patches of these around my back yard.  The shafts are thin and round, and the tips look like seed.  This is not my normal grass going to seed.  I have that in other parts of my yard, but this isn't the same.  It doesn't seem to respond to localized weed killer (I know, not organic).

    I'll get more photos of the rest of the lawn, with some closeups soon.

    My front yard is really looking nice, except for some clovers, which I'll try to remove soon.  The back yard is the problem.  Very splotchy, uneven growth, lots of weeds.  There are even some spots of bare dirt that won't grow, even with new seed.
     
                                    
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    Whoops.  Forgot the photo.

     
    paul wheaton
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    Letterk.

    You said the magic word.  Weed killer.  Based on that, I utterly and completely refuse to help you.

    I think you need to find a community that is better fit for you.

     
                                    
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    Ack!  Paul, no!  I should have explained.

    I haven't used ANY kind of chemicals on my lawn or garden since finding this site.  Even our vegetable garden is completely organic and we're going to start composting ourselves.  I did have a bottle of weed killer in the garage from my pre-organic days, but it was pretty dusty from non-use.  Not wanting to put this in a landfill, it just sits on a shelf instead.  Seeing this new plant in my back yard had me trying to figure out what it was.  Not knowing if it was a type of grass or weed, and seeing it spread rapidly, I wanted to quickly find out if it was a weed or not.  I only sprayed one plant as an experiement, not a cure.  I'd never spray my entire lawn with this.  I've seen the damage it can do to my lawn and do not want me kids playing in a lawn treated with it.

    Please, I very much like this community and read it often (post lesss often).  I hope you will reconsider.  If I made a mistake, I apologzie and promise not to do it again!
     
    paul wheaton
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    Here is what I need from you ...

    1)  Find out where, in your community, there is a chemical product exchange.  This is something where people bring loads of the gick they are not going to use any more and then people that are going to use that sort of thing will get that instead of buying stuff.  This could take hours to find out about and I want you to post that information here.  I suggest you start with your extension office.

    2)  You will promise to never, ever again use any kind of fungicide, herbicide, insecticide or anything less than purely organic. 

    If you do these two things, I will help you.



     
                                    
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    paul wheaton wrote:
    Here is what I need from you ...

    1)  Find out where, in your community, there is a chemical product exchange.  This is something where people bring loads of the gick they are not going to use any more and then people that are going to use that sort of thing will get that instead of buying stuff.  This could take hours to find out about and I want you to post that information here.  I suggest you start with your extension office.

    2)  You will promise to never, ever again use any kind of fungicide, herbicide, insecticide or anything less than purely organic. 

    If you do these two things, I will help you.


    Deal.
     
    paul wheaton
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    Tell me about your area's toxic goo event.  Where is it.  What date?
     
                                      
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    paul wheaton wrote:
    Letterk.

    You said the magic word.   Weed killer.  Based on that, I utterly and completely refuse to help you.

    I think you need to find a community that is better fit for you.




    I'm pretty sure that's annual blue grass (Poa annua). You can't get rid of it, no way no how. The heat will kill it off but the seed heads will drop and germinate year after year, like crab grass. My yard is loaded with it.
     
                                    
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    paul wheaton wrote:
    Tell me about your area's toxic goo event.  Where is it.  What date?


    Still trying to figure that out.  The extension office offered no help (no soil testing either). 

    I found chemolink.com, which lets people buy/sell/trade chemicals.  I asked about household chemicals and they said to post the offer as free.  But I'm not sure about shipping.  So I'll keep looking...  There's a few organic gardens in the area that I'm going to ask.
     
                                    
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    While not an exchange program, my county does have scheduled hazardous waste collections.  Yard chemicals are acceptable materials.  Here's a link to Riverside County, CA locations and schedule.

    http://www.rivcowm.org/hhw/hhw_schedule.html

    Still looking for an exchange event/program.
     
    Jeremy Bunag
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    buddy110 wrote:
    I'm pretty sure that's annual blue grass (Poa annua). You can't get rid of it, no way no how. The heat will kill it off but the seed heads will drop and germinate year after year, like crab grass. My yard is loaded with it.


    I think buddy's right, annual bluegrass.  Best thing you can do is follow the good practices and thicken up what you have, let the good grass win.  (I'm still working on that, but I think it's improving!)
     
                                      
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    Jeremy Bunag wrote:
    I think buddy's right, annual bluegrass.  Best thing you can do is follow the good practices and thicken up what you have, let the good grass win.  (I'm still working on that, but I think it's improving!)


    Unfortunately that won't help. Nothing seems to.  .  My lawn is thick and full and it doesn't make a bit of difference. Bagging the grass helps lessen the seed dropping but not much noticable change has been obseverd. Once it gets hot it disaapears, but expect to see more and more each year....
     
                                    
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    From all my research, I think he's right as well.  Annual blue grass (Poa annua).  Here's what I've found to combate it organically.


  • [li]More like crazy to prevent it from seeding.  Unfortunately, this isn't going to happen at my house due to lack of time.[/li]
    [li]Use Corn Gluten Meal in late summer and again in spring to prevent the seeds from germinating.  This has to be done for years until all the seeds are gone.  Corn Gluten Meal is also a good nitrogen fertilizer.[/li]
    [li]Promote healthy soil so the good grass wins.[/li]
    [li]Deep and infrequent waterings.  It's not as drought tolerant as the good grass, so it will die off faster.[/li]
    [li]Add clover.  Clover adds nitrogen which makes the good grass happy.[/li]
    [li]Add slow release organic nitrogen.[/li]
    [li]Promote earth worms.  Besides all the good stuff they do for your soil, they feed the birds.  Birds also eat seeds.  When the birds come for worms, they'll eat the seed as well.  Everyone is happy.[/li]
    [li]Remove new patches before they seed.[/li]
    [li]Try to avoid soil compaction.  As it's a used yard, that won't happen, but the worms help with compaction.[/li]


  • I found this information from a number of different sources.  The funny thing is that some of the places that advised to use chemicals to manage the problem said they're rarely effective.  The general consensus is that it was best treated with cultural changes (mowing, watering, use, etc...), all organic!

    Now, I feel my soil is not exactly healthy in the back yard because a lot of the grass is just not growing.  I think this leaves it open to weeds, which is why I now have a weed problem.  The annual blue grass is just one of many weeds popping up right now.

    I'm going to take some photos of all portions of the yard, grass, and individual weeds soon and will post them.

    And I'm STILL trying to find a chemical exchange program in my area.
     
                                      
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    letterk wrote:
    From all my research, I think he's right as well.  Annual blue grass (Poa annua).  Here's what I've found to combate it organically.


  • [li]More like crazy to prevent it from seeding.  Unfortunately, this isn't going to happen at my house due to lack of time.[/li]
    [li]Use Corn Gluten Meal in late summer and again in spring to prevent the seeds from germinating.  This has to be done for years until all the seeds are gone.  Corn Gluten Meal is also a good nitrogen fertilizer.[/li]
    [li]Promote healthy soil so the good grass wins.[/li]
    [li]Deep and infrequent waterings.  It's not as drought tolerant as the good grass, so it will die off faster.[/li]
    [li]Add clover.  Clover adds nitrogen which makes the good grass happy.[/li]
    [li]Add slow release organic nitrogen.[/li]
    [li]Promote earth worms.  Besides all the good stuff they do for your soil, they feed the birds.  Birds also eat seeds.  When the birds come for worms, they'll eat the seed as well.  Everyone is happy.[/li]
    [li]Remove new patches before they seed.[/li]
    [li]Try to avoid soil compaction.  As it's a used yard, that won't happen, but the worms help with compaction.[/li]


  • I found this information from a number of different sources.  The funny thing is that some of the places that advised to use chemicals to manage the problem said they're rarely effective.  The general consensus is that it was best treated with cultural changes (mowing, watering, use, etc...), all organic!

    Now, I feel my soil is not exactly healthy in the back yard because a lot of the grass is just not growing.  I think this leaves it open to weeds, which is why I now have a weed problem.  The annual blue grass is just one of many weeds popping up right now.

    I'm going to take some photos of all portions of the yard, grass, and individual weeds soon and will post them.

    And I'm STILL trying to find a chemical exchange program in my area.

    Perhaps mowing (and bagging)very short would help by removing the seed pods. But yes to everything you said. Although I have no experience with corn gluten. There's a product called Prograss (chemical) which I won't use. It's completely ineffective   
     
                                    
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    Bagging and mowing short goes against advice stated on this site.  Although, from my experience, mowing very often, but still high, would get most of the shoots. 

    The Corn Gluten Meal treatment was found by accident and from what I've read works very well.  The trick is timing and doing it year after year.  But since it seems to be a good natural fertilizer (I'm no expert here), that doesn't sound like a bad thing. 
     
                                      
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    letterk wrote:
    Bagging and mowing short goes against advice stated on this site.  Although, from my experience, mowing very often, but still high, would get most of the shoots. 

    The Corn Gluten Meal treatment was found by accident and from what I've read works very well.  The trick is timing and doing it year after year.  But since it seems to be a good natural fertilizer (I'm no expert here), that doesn't sound like a bad thing. 


    I know, I was suggesting that all other efforts are fruitless. Poa annua doesn't germinate when crab grass does. I believe you have to attack those  seeds in the fall. I don't know if corn gluten will stop it's seeds from germinating.
     
                                      
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    Paul,
    Will corn gluten fertlize as well as ringer? Can I use corn gluten as a nitrogen in my compost piles?
     
    paul wheaton
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    This is sooo cool!  I get busy and don't check here for a while, and presto!  Everybody covers my butt! 

    Letterk, there is hope for you yet.  Good job on your research.  Keep looking.  If nothing else, once you find it and you know about it, then you might be able to pass the info on.  In some communities it is at a county dump.  People come to the dump and bring their goo, and for a day there is a goo-swap.  I would guess there could even be something longer term.  A shack full of half filled bottles of goo. 

    Odds are that the herbicide you tried to use is a broad leaf herbicide - so it won't work on a grass.

    Corn gluten:  I'm against that stuff.  Think about it:  it tells seeds "don't germinate yet" - so then they germinate later.  What good is that?  I want the weeds to germinate so that they will die.

    If you take a good look at that picture, you will see the "good" grass mixed in there too.  So we need to encourage that grass.

    Some of you suggested mowing lower.  I want to suggest the opposite.  Mow higher.    My only concern with that is ....  what variety of grass is the good grass?  The blades look relatively fine.  I suspect that if you tried to mow higher, the blades would just flop over. 

    "More like crazy to prevent it from seeding."

    (I assume that should read "Mow ..."

    I think preventing stuff from seeding is an approach that is contrary to cheap and lazy.  Let the stuff seed all it wants.  Instead, combat the problem with tall grass with deep roots that get watered infrequently.  This will kill the babies.

    "Promote healthy soil so the good grass wins."

    Ding, ding, ding!  We have a winner!

    "eep and infrequent waterings.  It's not as drought tolerant as the good grass, so it will die off faster."

    Damn good stuff!

    "Add clover.  Clover adds nitrogen which makes the good grass happy."

    I think your grass is really N heavy right now.  You would have a hard time getting the clover to take.  On top of that, I think your "bad" grass is gonna like the clover too.

    "Add slow release organic nitrogen."

    Already N heavy and bad grass likes it too.

    "Promote earth worms.  Besides all the good stuff they do for your soil, they feed the birds.  Birds also eat seeds.  When the birds come for worms, they'll eat the seed as well.  Everyone is happy."

    Not bad.  I'll let the stuff about the birds go because my strategy doesn't care about lots of seed. 

    Lots of earthworms means that air gets down deep in the soil so the deep rooted "good grass" has an advantage.  And the shallow soil dries out faster.

    "Remove new patches before they seed."

    For the truly cheap and lazy, like me, I find bliss in apathy about the "bad grass".  But if you're freaking out over it, this idea is pretty quick and direct.  Dig out the stuff that bothers you and replace that patch with a little compost mound.    The surrounding grass will eventually fill the void (although other weeds might move in first).  If you have a patch of good grass growing somewhere that you want to, say, put in a garden, you can dig out a chunk of sod and move it to where the "bad grass"  used to be.









     
                                      
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    hahaha

    In my case that would mean digging up the entire front lawn

    But I do get the point and yes, I'm not bothered by the Poa Annua. It doesn't last into the summer anyway. In a week or so once it gets hot it dies off. The watering advise is acurate but in this region it rains alot in the spring. If I could control that ,  well,    I wouldn't be posting  here would I?....
     
                                    
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    Paul, I still haven't found exactly what you're talking about, but here are two other sources for getting rid of chemicals without trowing them in the dump.

    veggietrader.com - You can post freebie chemicals in the misc section.

    freecycle.com - I've used this to give away a few items I no longer needed, but were still worth using.  I was reminded about this on another forum.
     
                                    
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    paul wheaton wrote:
    This is sooo cool!  I get busy and don't check here for a while, and presto!  Everybody covers my butt! 


    Great site.  Lots of people willing to help!

    Letterk, there is hope for you yet.  Good job on your research.  Keep looking.  If nothing else, once you find it and you know about it, then you might be able to pass the info on.  In some communities it is at a county dump.  People come to the dump and bring their goo, and for a day there is a goo-swap.  I would guess there could even be something longer term.  A shack full of half filled bottles of goo. 

    Odds are that the herbicide you tried to use is a broad leaf herbicide - so it won't work on a grass.


    That was sort of part of my original naughty test.  To see if it was a grass or weed.

    Corn gluten:  I'm against that stuff.   Think about it:  it tells seeds "don't germinate yet" - so then they germinate later.  What good is that?   I want the weeds to germinate so that they will die.


    The method was to tell it to germinate later for 6-7 years until it can't germinate any more.  I guess that sort of goes against the cheap and lazy principles.  But if you do it long enough, no more annual blue grass.

    If you take a good look at that picture, you will see the "good" grass mixed in there too.   So we need to encourage that grass.


    Yes, lots of good grass where the bad grass is in most cases.  I still want to figure out exactly what the good grass is, so I'll post more photos.  I think I might have some fine fescue in the mix.

    Some of you suggested mowing lower.  I want to suggest the opposite.  Mow higher.    My only concern with that is ....   what variety of grass is the good grass?  The blades look relatively fine.  I suspect that if you tried to mow higher, the blades would just flop over. 


    Yes, it's close to flopping over as it is.

    "More like crazy to prevent it from seeding."

    (I assume that should read "Mow ..."


    Yes, typo.

    "Add clover.  Clover adds nitrogen which makes the good grass happy."

    I think your grass is really N heavy right now.  You would have a hard time getting the clover to take.  On top of that, I think your "bad" grass is gonna like the clover too.

    "Add slow release organic nitrogen."

    Already N heavy and bad grass likes it too.


    Why do you say N heavy?  Just curious how you got to that.  I do have a bunch of clover in the front yard and it's spreading.  None in the backyard though, which is where I'm having the annual bluegrass problem.

    "Promote earth worms.  Besides all the good stuff they do for your soil, they feed the birds.  Birds also eat seeds.  When the birds come for worms, they'll eat the seed as well.  Everyone is happy."

    Not bad.  I'll let the stuff about the birds go because my strategy doesn't care about lots of seed. 


    I atually have noticed a LOT more birds in my lawn lately.  I wonder if this theory is true.

    "Remove new patches before they seed."

    For the truly cheap and lazy, like me, I find bliss in apathy about the "bad grass".  But if you're freaking out over it, this idea is pretty quick and direct.  Dig out the stuff that bothers you and replace that patch with a little compost mound.    The surrounding grass will eventually fill the void (although other weeds might move in first).  If you have a patch of good grass growing somewhere that you want to, say, put in a garden, you can dig out a chunk of sod and move it to where the "bad grass"  used to be.


    The only reason I'm freaking out about is that it's spreading so fast.  I don't want my entire lawn taken over by this stuff.  It's not exactly pretty.  I'm afraid I'm a little too late on the digging out bad stuff task, so there's no point in doing it now.  But maybe next year.

    I do have good grass in the back yard.  But it's not spreading to the bad sections.  I also have lots of patches that do absolutely nothing.  Lots of things going on back there.  I'll post some photos soon.
     
    paul wheaton
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    As long as you get it into the hands of somebody that would use it (instead of buying more of the same and using that) then I'm a happy guy.

    I should have asked this at the beginning:  How cold does it get where you are?  Does it freeze?

    The method was to tell it to germinate later for 6-7 years until it can't germinate any more.


    Your plan will make those companies stinking rich!

    And, if you ever forget to keep giving them your money, boy will you ever be sorry.

    Oh, and you better sign up for life:  some seeds can last decades.

    Unless, of course, you give up this silly game and just take my easier, cheaper, less stressful approach.

    Why do you say N heavy?


    The color is such a dark green.  I look at that and I think "somebody has been laying on the fertilizer to just the right amount for maximum growth.  If you add just a wee bit more it will die of nitrogen toxicity."

    But maybe next year.


    Good job!  You're getting the hang of this now!  A little knowledge and a little patience can pay off huge!


     
                                    
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    paul wheaton wrote:
    As long as you get it into the hands of somebody that would use it (instead of buying more of the same and using that) then I'm a happy guy.


    You'll be a happy guy. 

    I should have asked this at the beginning:  How cold does it get where you are?  Does it freeze?


    It gets into the 40's during the winter nights.  It will front once in a while, but not often.  No dormant season for the grass, it just grows slower in the winter.  Right now nights are in the 50's.

    Your plan will make those companies stinking rich!

    And, if you ever forget to keep giving them your money, boy will you ever be sorry.

    Oh, and you better sign up for life:  some seeds can last decades.

    Unless, of course, you give up this silly game and just take my easier, cheaper, less stressful approach.


    You make some good points (as usual).  Stressful is right.  Drives me nuts.

    The color is such a dark green.  I look at that and I think "somebody has been laying on the fertilizer to just the right amount for maximum growth.  If you add just a wee bit more it will die of nitrogen toxicity."


    Actually, I haven't done any fertilizer until just recently (Ringer), and the photo was taken before.  I think the cell phone photo may be making the grass look greener than it really is.  Like I said, more photos!

    Good job!  You're getting the hang of this now!  A little knowledge and a little patience can pay off huge!


    Patience is the hard part.
     
                                      
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    Letterk

    Poa Annua is a pain to get rid of. I'm in the same boat as you, my lawn is infested with the stuff. In a week or so, it will die off leaving brown patches for a short time, then it will disappear altogether. But the damage is already done, it's dropped it's seed.  . The seed will begin to germinate in the fall, then fall dormant until next spring where it will rise again in all it's (ugh) glory.

    Cutting short and bagging MIGHT help but I doubt it. Besides like you, I'm trying to adhere to the organic methods and have already raised my cutting height from 3-3.5 which is the max I can go with blue grass  I'm working on the wife to leave the clippings in the grass, but she's against it because our pets traipse the stuff in the house and Ohhhh she hates that I think I'm gonna sneak a cut thus week and see if she notices 

    I think I'm going to try the corn gluten idea on the front where the infestation is the worst and see how that works. I'm lazy,but I'm also obsessed      
     
    paul wheaton
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    Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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    If it does not freeze there, then you probably have warm season grasses.  Most of us are familiar with cool season grasses.

    Tall fescue is a cool season grass. 

    Cool season grasses do most of their growth in the spring and fall.  They are dormant in the winter and semi-dormant in the summer. 

    Warm season grasses to most of their growth in the summer.  They are semi dormant in the winter.  And do pretty good in the spring and fall.  But they have zero tolerance for frost. 

    I have no experience with warm season grasses outside of talking about them.  But I do know that they have a different fertilization schedule.  The rule of thumb is the same:  fertilize before the big growth season.



     
    adrianne karnofel
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    Paul,

    I just found your site a few weeks ago, and it has my name written all over it.  We have very sandy soil, and I don't want to chemically kill the grass, till it and attempt to fix the soil.  So I tried your two foot hole method.  I dug one hole in each side of the yard and filled it mostly with compost and what actual soil we could salvage.  It has been two weeks and I didn't feel like anything was happening, so I bought some night crawlers to add to it.  But when I dug into the hole to put the worms in, there were all kinds of new grass roots growing in there.  Something is working!  Thanks for the help and I'll keep you updated.
     
    paul wheaton
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    akarnofel wrote:
    Paul,

    I just found your site a few weeks ago, and it has my name written all over it.  We have very sandy soil, and I don't want to chemically kill the grass, till it and attempt to fix the soil.  So I tried your two foot hole method.  I dug one hole in each side of the yard and filled it mostly with compost and what actual soil we could salvage.  It has been two weeks and I didn't feel like anything was happening, so I bought some night crawlers to add to it.  But when I dug into the hole to put the worms in, there were all kinds of new grass roots growing in there.  Something is working!  Thanks for the help and I'll keep you updated.


    Take pictures!

    And let's start a new thread about the hole-in-the-lawn technique.

     
                                    
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    I promised photos, here's photos.  First set is to determine what grass I have.  The TruGreen guys said Tall Fescue last year.
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    Now, the problem.  This is my front yard.  Generally it looks great.  But the clovers are invading.
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    More clover shots.
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    Second problem, now in the back yard.  There are patches of dirt that just won't grow a thing.  A little history.  When we moved in, the back yard looked generally fine.  But then the bunnies came.  After about 8 months of fighting, we finally got rid of them for good.  But they ate down the grass to dirt and urinated on what was left of it, leaving large bare spots.  Some of the spots have gown in with new seed, but a lot of it just sits there.  Even the grass that is there doesn't grow.  It gets to about 1" and nothing more.
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    One more bare spot shot.
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    Third problem.  We put in a retaining wall to turn some sloped land into a nice organic garden.  This left a flat patch of dirt next to the lawn that we reseeded with tall fescue (which is 50% of the seed sold at local stores).  It's not growing in well, has a funny color, and generally won't get past about an inch.
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    Last problem (for now).  The back yard has weeds galore, which wasn't the case last year.  Most of them I know what they are, and am just pulling away until the lawn improves to the point where it's doing the work for me.  But here is a new one that I don't know what it is.  It's very stiff and has a long, thick root.  It's spreading.
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