I have read a lot of the forum topics and found them very helpful. As the title of the topic states, I'm pretty dumb with lawn care and want to make sure I'm on the right track. I live in billings MT. My husband and I separated 2 summers ago and my lawn has suffered as a result! About half of it is over taken by what appears to be crab grass and sone type of clover I am now a single working mother, so the cheap and lazy (or busy) article was amazing (I was afraid I was going to have to till everything up and start from scratch). Now that that I have gone off on a little tangent, here is my question: I would love if I really could let the existing grass kill the weeds without doing anything, but I think it's a little too far gone for that. I just mowed for the first time and there's way more weeds than I thought! Can I just lay down seed with some type of grass (tall fescue it seems would be recommended) over the weeds? If I do, would I have to put some type of topsoil down first? Then some nitrate fertilizer? If I do it now while it's still rainy can I get an added level of lazy with the watering thing? Thanks!
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
posted 4 years ago
No fertilizer , please ! We here at permies will not even discuss that option . Welcome to permies by the way , Nina ! You have come to the right place. Clover in your lawn is a good thing . Nothing in nature grows by itself . Many weeds are good friends too , such as dandelion . Think of your lawn as a little meadow . When you find a plant you don't want , such as thistle , pull that up and run over it with your mower . The plant will feed your lawn . Good luck !
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It helps if you realise that a traditional "lawn" is actually a very sterile and uninteresting monoculture. Variety is great and, as long as the species in question don't harm your enjoyment of the lawn I would let them be.
Clover - clover is wonderful. It fixes nitrogen which feeds all the other plants including the grasses. It makes pretty flowers which the bees love. Definitely not a weed in my book. I'd even go so far as to sow clover seeds over areas of struggling lawn.
Dandelions - pretty flowers, they cope with being mowed and their deep roots pull up moisture and nutrients from deeper in the soil for other plants to benefit from.
Mosses - our lawn is full of moss. We'd probably like a little less, but it gives a lovely comfortable spongy feel to lie down on.
Lots of creeping herbs etc...
As Wayne has said - the only plants I would ruthlessly weed out are those which have prickles. No one wants to run around the garden in barefeet and stand on a thistle. I bough this tool recently and LOVE it.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fiskars-UK-Limited-1001297-Puller/dp/B0002TTRT4 - it gets the whole plant in one go by grabbing around the roots. We cleared our whole large lawn of thistles in about an hour, and there had been quite a few little thistles!
Regarding mowing - just make sure you mow on a fairly high setting and leave the cuttings in place to mulch the ground (if your mower has a mulch setting).
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I'd like to elaborate a little more on Michael and Wayne's ideas about making your lawn a mow-able meadow, how no plants exist alone, and a brief history of lawns.
A mow-able meadow functions differently from a lawn in that you can create habitat for local flora and fauna to thrive, and you can add elements that support your needs and pleasure- stacking functions. I'm quoting Paul Wheaton's 2014 Permaculture Keynote Presentation here; "for example, if you love the smell of apple, you could grow apple grass." Then, depending on whatever functions you would like the meadow to do, add certain species as needed. The rest of the video talks about 71 other amazing bricks of permaculture. There is also a video on Paul Wheaton's Youtube channel about how to use a scythe if you are not the type of person who likes to use lawnmowers. Also, you should check out Paul Wheaton's Advice on Lawn Care For the Cheap and Lazy in the link below; it has very concise and easy to use information for lawn care.
If there are any nutrient deficiencies in your soil, you may want to consider looking at this list of biodynamic accumulators by the Oregon Biodynamics Group. This way you can have the flora accumulate the necessary nutrients for you instead of using fertilizers.
The rest of their website has decent information about biodynamics; however, I do not see any significant scientific value in their discussion on cosmic influences in biodynamics. Nevertheless, it is an interesting resource.
This is just a little fun fact:
Lawns originated from the European aristocracy as a sign of wealth. The more fallow land that was present, the richer a person was viewed in society in that time period because it meant that they did not have to grow their own food and could afford buying their food.
I hope some of this information was helpful to you.