I'm so glad I found the site. Paul, your lawn article inspired me to do things right.
Last year, I gave up doing my lawn because of time and paid someone to do lawn maintenance; he would cut it short, dump the clippings in the forest (my property backs into 400+ acres of forest preserve, and 1/4 of my 3/4 acre lot is wild, and 20ft lower grade). So my back lot has wonderful soil from hundreds of years of leaf litter and last years clippings. Sigh.
Lawn looked clean, but the didn't get any feedings (synthetic or otherwise) and I have mostly thin dirt where the lawn grows.
I ordered Rigers today from my neighborhood mom-pop run hardware store (three letter franchise name...) in my suburban chicago village of 4k people; $20 a 25lb bag. Be here tuesday.
Going to lose the reel mower for an electric mulching mower. Got the number of my suburban cook county Illinois extension. Probably going to need several samples from different parts of the yard for testing.
I took some pictures of my freshly reel mowed lawn; with purple violets, white clover, bare spots of hard dirt, mixed grasses, moss, and tons of chopped dandelion flowers and seed heads. I'll post those later. I have no problem with the lawn looking a bit like pasture, just wish the deer would eat some of it.
Here's the pics. Also put up some from 2004 when we acquired the house. The back yard especially is 100% better. The previous owners when they put in the pool, they dumped the dirt into a pile on the lawn.
I've been thinking about that soil down the hill in the back 9. For the really bare spots, I was thinking of digging about half a foot, transporting the dirt down the hill, and hauling up some of the good stuff to fill the holes.
Now for the lazy part: Do I bother to re-seed, or just leave it. I don't know if I'll be able to water seedlings consistently.
Also, for mulch around trees and their drip zones, should I stir it up before laying down a fresh cap layer? I tested a spot and it seemed pretty much like thatch after the winter.
Front yard is split between coniferous and deciduous, the latter being really old oak trees (3-4ft diameter). Big enough to shade the house during summer sundown.
Around both types are wood chips as mulch. It was this way when I got the house, and been adding more oak chips each spring. I'll just loosen the top then put another layer, so the water can get in. Once the lawn is healthy, I'll look at converting it back over to lawn.
And I'll pick up some tall fescue seed for the replaced soil spots.
Started a compost pile today with about 2 cu/ft of dandelions I pulled by hand from the front lawn, along with a bunch of leaves I cleaned out earlier. Dug a shallow 5ft hole, plopped the greens mixed with the leaves, and then the soil from the hole.
Well, I've mowed the lawn high twice, mostly weeds were whacked. Pulled a bunch of dandelions as recreation as well as to start the compost pile. Laid down some Ringers today with my little hand rotary spreader, not too much. Finally mixed in some topsoil from down the hill onto the patch were the old oak tree once stood. It's still mostly woodchips, but below is soil with lots and lots of earthworms!
To grow grass I think I'm going to need a lot more dirt. Wonder if wild flowers would be a better choice for another year while the worms work their magic? Deer will probably eat them, but maybe a few will survive, not sure.
Supposed to have T-Stormes tomorrow, but I have my sprinklers at the ready for a mid morning soak if there isn't enough water in sight.
Also saw the funniest thing today. A squirrel was in one of the pine trees, and all of the sudden its running down the tree, being chased by two Robins. They were pissed. Doing alternate dive bombings, as they chased the squirrel about 50 yards. Then they took up posts making sure the squirrel really was gone. I think they were protecting their nest.
In the pine tree 10 feet away was a bluejay nest, and the one 25 feet away has a Cardinal nest.
Also noticed both Robins and Sparrows hunting on my front lawn. Sparrow seemed to get a grub or caterpillar, greenish and short. I think this is a good sign.
Been in the house for two years, and never worked in the yard long enough to notice these happenings. Oh yeah, almost forgot. Saw my first hummingbird EVER in real life; it was Green.