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organic lawn care for the cheap and lazy  RSS feed

 
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Haven't read the whole thread but skimmed the original article. I'm kind of surprised that lawns are such a focus on a permie site, to be honest.

I found it much more economical and organic to just turn the lawn that wasn't growing food into....something that grew more food. I lived on an acre that was already fenced for free range chickens and dogs, with orchard and gardens amidst the "lawn" areas...I found it cheaper to just buy a few hair sheep lambs and let them do all the mowing and fertilization and was extremely pleased with the outcome. I borrowed a ram for breeding and to produce offspring to sell for purchasing the hay for winter feed and for putting in the freezer, of course.

It was a neat little system and gave me a chance to give the old John Deere a rest~mowed the place 2 times all year to whack down a few weeds and undesirable grasses that the sheep couldn't keep up with, saved me time and money and kept my lawn looking like a well manicured English estate~no more trimming with the weedeater..yay! Not to mention that the sheep were a light footprint on the pasture/lawn, lovely and personable animals, and added beauty and interest to my property. I've never tasted sweeter and more tender meat than the lambs produced by these hair sheep fed totally on a grass/hay diet. Food, lawn care, beauty and organic living all in one effort...can't beat it.

The whole experience improved my lawn greatly, improved my orchard, decreased my workload and time spent on the lawn and gave me a good deal of therapy...sheep are wonderful animals. Hair sheep are easy care, parasite resistant and self reliant animals. It was a win/win and the sheep added more social structure to my existing animals..the chickens and dogs interacted well with the sheep and it was most entertaining to watch the whole show.



In the pic below you can see my white dutch clover cover crop in the garden space...this space was also utilized as food for the sheep both before the garden was planted and after it was done...the sheep cleaned up all garden items left behind at the end of the season and utilized the clover in the pathways in the fall season until snow fell, then they were kept off the lawn/garden during the winter months.



Not to mention, one gets the added benefit of watching some of the most beautiful moments that God can show us....don't really get to see those on a roaring, gas guzzling mower as it chops through tender blades and any insects startled out of the grass. Another attribute to sheep is their silence and gentleness upon the land.



In the background in this pic you can just see the wheel of my old John Deere lawn tractor...one can almost hear it sighing in relief and taking a much needed retirement from a long and loyal life of service~as the new lawn mower is born in the next stall.

 
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I live in Florida and have St. Augustine grass. Your email topic was timely as I want to go "organic" to keep my lawn looking acceptable for the HOA. I have used a lawn-service in the past to fertilize and for weed-control, but don't want to put pesticides on my lawn anymore. How do I deal with pest problems such as chinch bugs who love St. Augustine grass? How do I prevent them to begin with? Thanks.
 
Posts: 130
Location: Coastal temperate deciduous forest (Boston) - zone 6b - 44" rain/year
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Paul, thanks for a great article. Ammunition for the annual "discussion" with my wife about how high to cut the grass.

Thumbs up for Ringer fertilizer. Now available lots of places, including Home Depot. I started using it decades ago.

Here's a plug for Clint's Dandy Digger. Strongest dandelion digger I've used, we just remove them manually in conspicuous spots.

I'd be happy to share your page on lawn care. Talk about complete!

Jerry
 
Posts: 9
Location: Southwest Kansas zone 6b
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duane hennon wrote:
I'm totally confused about the whole concept. Why would anyone want to "care for a lawn"
I thought permaculture was all about eradicating lawn 


I"m with you .. last year i went to a no mo lawn. Mostly buffalo grass I'm trying to "re generate"..
I confess .. I got some thing to kill the bermuda last year to put on it.. and it worked .. good. I"m sure i'll find some.. but .. on tothe current problem

We have cheet grass - oh. .google helped me spell cheatgrass .. its awful.. so in the "permie" way. what would you recommend.?

 
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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I've read the article and about half of the thread. We have inherited a small area of lawn with the house andland we bought, that we will be keeping. It is about 4x5 meters. We already have lots of room for veggies in another area, animals elsewhere, and what we really need is a good place for children to play. Of course they like playing where we are and helping too, but you know, sometimes when you're a 5 yr old boy you NEED a nice flat lawn to play soccer on

The problems are myriad though. The lawn is to the north of the house and gets limited sun (full sun for a few hours a day, and part shade the rest of the time), I have reason to suspect that the topsoil is thin and probably poor drained, and we get a LOT of rain (nearly 2 meters per year!).
We moved in in September and the grass was long-lawn length but then stopped growing. We had sheep in in January who nibbled it to a nice length, and it's been more or less dormant since. Things look like they might be getting going soon. In the meantime, the lawn is so, so wet. Some areas have some moss, but mostly it's just squelchy. I've planted what I hope will develop into a willow fedge along two sides, which I hope will help suck up some of that water. And another side has a narrow bed which previously had small ornamental shrubs and will have small fruit bushes and herbs.
I don't know what kind of grass it is, but it's grass and little daisies, not much else.
We plan to mow as little as possible, and actually rather than being anti-weed, I would quite like to have other stuff growing in there as long as it stays nice to walk and play on.

So my questions are, how else can I stop it from getting too waterlogged (huge-scale work is out of the question as it's a relatively low priority around here), and what else could I get growing in there and how? I've seen a lovely lawn that was grass, yarrow, ladies mantle, and self-heal, but I'm skeptical about just seeding those in.
 
Posts: 17
Location: New Zealand
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G'day Carreg,

You say it's mostly grass. That's good! Grass is designed for being walked on. It is easier to grip than other plants and doesn't wear out as quick. Given the rainfall and shade, shallow depth of dirt (have you actually dug a hole and checked, or at least pushed a fork in?) it's never going to be the greatest lawn. Following Paul's tips of mow high (never water in your case! sounds like you get oodles) and leave the clippings will improve things over time. How much time? I don't know!

You could speed it up by buying a few bags of compost and top dressing. At 4x5m I reckon the job would take 30 minutes. Aerating with a manual core aerator would help too, about 15 minutes work. This will help water to drain, provide a pace for seeds to grow and help compost get deeper into the soil. Then you could overseed with shade/rain tolerant grasses, yarrow, roman chamomile, microclover (there are some great clovers which have fewer flowers than regular clover - less bees), and any other plants you want. In order aerate, overseed, crumble your cores by hand, then top dress. I recommend crumbling your cores because if you walk on them whilst they're wet they'll bury live grass in the dirt which will impede their growth. But these are not the lazy options . Usually these things are done during the time the grass is growing, which in your climate might be from late spring to mid autumn.

Aerating video:-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPVD_w66yPg

Overseeding video:-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt-X9OupsOo

Top dressing video:-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4eudT9fa8E

Easy peasy.

Regards,
John
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Thank you! really helpful. That all sounds totally do-able - I should have specified, I don't mind putting in a little time on it, it's the spending money we can't do! (So for example, the best thing for long-term success would probably be to dig it all up, improve the site drainage, and truck in a load more soil, but that ain't gonna happen)

I haven't made a hole in the middle of the lawn, but I planted the willow fedge along two edges, I did this using a thick metal spike (old railway tie thingee) and it only went easily for about 4 inches, I'd say. The previous owners did a huge amount of structural landscaping and earthmoving, so I think this whole raised lawn area is a new creation, and knowing the quality of their work elsewhere, well....

The grass isn't growing yet since we've had the coldest March on record for the UK, and then dry weather. but it's warmer and wet now, so hoping it starts growing soon and as soon as it's not too soggy we will have a go at these suggestions.
 
John Flower
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Location: New Zealand
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A complex fertiliser may also help get things going. Blood & bone, mature decomposed chicken poo, organic fish hydrolysate (not emulsion) from a sustainable source, almost any fertiliser that comes from a plant or the bum of an animal will do. The key here is complex, simple fertilisers with words like nitrate, ammonia, urea, etc in them are a poor choice. Complex fertilisers are broken down by microbes, at the request of plants, meaning right amount of food at the right time. It's the nutritional difference between a potato and a spoonful of sugar for a human. One will give sustained energy the other will give a rush and then a crash. Because they require microbes they work best at higher temperatures, so spring, summer, autumn. My preferred times are late summer and late autumn. But many people do spring and autumn. My understanding is that grass spends more energy on growing leaves in spring, and then roots in autumn. I prefer roots. The conflict in timing advice may have more to do with simple, quick release fertilisers. In spring they can cause a surge of leaf growth, whilst neglecting root growth. The grass needs roots to store food to fight disease. I suspect this is a nonissue with complex fertilisers. Compost is the top fertiliser, but takes the longest time to work. Again not lazy, not cheap.

Over time grasscycling and clover may be all you need to keep your lawn fed - that's what nature does. Except she would use the animals to trim the grass. Animal poo contains microbes that are good for the soil, and the chewing of plants helps decomposing too. But it is no fun for playing soccer on.

Overseeding with clover right now may help. The nitrogen made by it will help the grass to grow.

When you say your spike only went in 10cm, was that because it was hard to push, or did you hit stones? Let us know how you get on.
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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I'm not really sure what's happening under the top layer to be honest. For the lawn area they do at least appear to have added some actual top soil, as opposed to the 'stones loosely held together with clay' of the rest of the 'garden' and 'veg patch'!

We have horse poo-and-straw- compost pile on the go, but it will be a while. We have a small amount of mature compost from a chicken house but that's going to the veggies. I am gathering seaweed to rot down in a water butt to make liquid fertilizer, would that be good for the lawn?

We are getting geese to keep the grass under control elsewhere, but I don't really want them on the lawn as it won't be so kiddy-friendly if it's covered in goose shit...
 
John Flower
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Location: New Zealand
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I'm a little out of my depth with fertilisers. My understanding is that seaweed has a wide range of nutrients. So this is good for your lawn. Use it. However it has little nitrogen, which grass loves. Chicken poo does.
 
Posts: 46
Location: Lexington, Kentucky Zone 6
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Will the cuttings from a manual reel mower be just as good as the mulched cuttings from a gas mower? Will they break down and feed the lawn the same as finer mulched cuttings. I would be afraid that unless you mowed really often the grass clippings could smother or make brown spots on the grass. Nice thing with mulching gas or electric mower is that you can cut less frequently and they have the power to still mulch the grass. I would love to get a reel mower but don't want to have to mow more frequently. Any thoughts?
 
John Flower
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Location: New Zealand
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I use a reel push mower. I've had one for the last two months. It's of a design that throws the grass forward. I only ever see a few clippings where the grass meets my driveway. A quick sweep and it's done, or just let the wind blow it away - quicker than emptying a catcher. I would recommend keeping a motorised mower with a catcher for those times where your grass has grown a lot e.g. after a prolonged rainy spell, or after being away for a few weeks. Also some reel mowers can go from 2.5cm to 10cm in height (Fiskars make such a model). This height range solves the issue of push mowers being hard to push through long grass. I much prefer the push. My wife who has never mown a lawn in her life likes to use it. It's quiet too! I've used it early in the morning and at 9pm at night, to avoid the heat of summer, because it's so quiet. Also no vibration in the hands. I find it takes the same amount of time, or less, to mow (I have a 300sqm lawn).

In terms of smothering, it's unlikely to be an issue. The city council where I live regularly chop 5cm - 10cm off grass in parks, walkways and verges around town. The public grass is some of the best looking grass in the city. But it is a a little unsightly seeing the clumps of clipping. They mow some places about every six weeks.
 
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Okay, background stuff: I live in the southern california high desert area, north of LA by about 45 miles. I just bought my house in November and it had been empty for about a year and a half. I was determined to bring the lawn back to life. I am delighted to say that mine was the first lawn to be green in the neighborhood (it looked great even before spring came, while the nighttime temperatures were still below 40). I am also so very delighted to say that I have not had more than a handful of weeds pop up since I took the advice from this artice. My next door neighbor's yard actually looks pockmarked with these large, flat, fuzzy weeds; I had many of those, partuicularly around the perimeter, when I first began caring for my lawn. But it has been nearly a month since I have even seen a dandelion pop up through my lush, thick lawn. I have had a series of issues with my sprinklers (there were more than 20 heads per valve before I started capping), so I have some dry areas that I am now watering with a hose while I plan out a better map for my sprinkler coverage.

So here's the question: I have noticed in the last couple of weeks that my grass is going to seed really fast, even though it is not growing as tall as it was in February and March. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? I am afraid it means it is about to go dormant and it is barely May! Am I overreacting? Is this okay? We did have a week of 90+ temperatures already, but we are back to a comfortable high 70s/low 80s again.

Please help.
 
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Hi - I had grubs in the fall - does anyone know if they'll be back this year? My yard is 100% organic, no sprinklers. Not sure why I had grubs this past fall -first time since going organic a few years back.

We did get a dog last year, who is outside much of the day - wondering if he is scaring away the birds who are the natural predators of grubs.

THoughts?

Many thanks.
 
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Hi Brendan - not sure what kind of grubs you had.
Until last summer I was only familiar with the typical whitish cutworms that curl up into a c. The ones that cutoff your tomatoe plants at the base.
Then I had some ornamentals infested with the "climbing" cutworm (variegated cutworm). My understanding is these can be a real problem for turf growers, alfalfa farmers ...
The following links have good pictures of them if you want to check them out.

http://fyi.uwex.edu/bugbites/2012/05/21/variegated-cutworm/

http://bayfield.uwex.edu/2012/05/17/pest-bulletin/

Last year was the worst infestation of them in like 30 years or so.
 
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I just read the site (thanks, so great and easy to understand!), and have a question: Since it is so late in the season should I not fertilize my lawn? It is quite thin and brown (a third brown the rest green, but even- no large brown spots). It gets half shade. I live in Northern California, zone 9. I would really love to be able to get it looking better this season.
 
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The lawns around where I live (south central Kansas) seem to be mostly Bermuda grass. After reading the "Organic Lawn Care for the Cheap and Lazy" page, I wondered whether the same suggestions applied to Bermuda grass, so I headed to these forums. Most of the topics I found when searching for Bermuda grass were along the lines of "OH PLEASE HOW CAN I KILL IT!?"

The folks in those other threads must not be cheap and lazy -- I just want to know the easiest way to have more grass and fewer weeds. Does the "mow high" guideline apply the same to Bermuda grass?

And one other thing -- I don't like how Bermuda grass encroaches on the sidewalks and street curb. That bothers me just enough that I might do something about it, if there's an easy way to chop it off where lawn meets concrete. Is a weed-eater or edger the thing to use, or something else? We have a cordless weed-eater that I never bother using, but my wife tells me that it has trouble with Bermuda grass, especially a few minutes after you take it off the charger, when it starts slowing down just a little. Do I need some other tool, or a different kind of string, or is there no good way for folks as lazy as my wife and I are to keep the grass off the sidewalk?

Thanks.
 
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I just read your online piece about organic lawn care for the cheap and lazy (that's me!). What is the role of thatching and aerating (removing plugs)? Also, I have a growing circle of white clover...it's nearly July...do I just let it be and then focus on some organic fertilizer in the fall and spring? Anything that will help reduce it now? I know, I know...you've been suggesting people ADD these to their lawn, but *ducks for cover*, I rather just like the look of lawn, lawn, and the bees in the clover are an issue for going barefoot (I have plenty of other places for bees).
 
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azosprillium and grazing ruminants
 
John Flower
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Location: New Zealand
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Cherrie Ward wrote:I just read your online piece about organic lawn care for the cheap and lazy (that's me!). What is the role of thatching and aerating (removing plugs)? Also, I have a growing circle of white clover...it's nearly July...do I just let it be and then focus on some organic fertilizer in the fall and spring? Anything that will help reduce it now? I know, I know...you've been suggesting people ADD these to their lawn, but *ducks for cover*, I rather just like the look of lawn, lawn, and the bees in the clover are an issue for going barefoot (I have plenty of other places for bees).



Hi Cherie,

Dethatching is done when there is a thick mat of dead grass roots above the soil restricting water, nutrients, and air getting into the soil. If your grass is long and you're leaving the clippings the thatch may well reduce over time. This is because the clippings feed the microbes that breakdown thatch (as does organic fertiliser). Some thatch is a good thing as it prevents weeds from germinating. Be patient.

Aerating can help improve drainage, and it loosens the soil allowing grass roots to go deeper (a good thing). In a healthy lawn the worms do this job rather well. Mowing high and leaving clippings will
a) hide worms from predators when they come to the surface
b) provide food for the worms
If your ground is heavily compacted aerating will speed up the process of getting your lawn to optimal health. It also brings microbes to the surface that will help in dethatching and releasing nutrients from grass clippings and organic fertiliser. Overseeding and top dressing with compost should be done at the same time to get the best effect. Note this is neither lazy nor cheap. This is best done when the lawn is growing quickly as it does in spring and autumn. That way the grass can quickly recover.

You have clover because of a nitrogen deficiency in the soil. Once the grass has enough nitrogen it will out compete the clover. Some universities recommend a late summer fertiliser rather than autumn. They suggest that this can extend the growing season further into winter. Top dressing with compost is a gentle way to fertilise your grass and can be done now.

Regards,
John
 
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I have read your write up for lawn care which has provoked me to post a reply. It is July here in PA and I have unusual dead spots. Thatch, grubs, burnt? Take a look what do you think? I think I will need to aerate and dethatch in the fall/late summer. This is the second summer I've owned this house. Fertilized and lined this past spring, grass came really green and now it looks a little dry.. Thanks

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Ben McDaniel wrote:

The folks in those other threads must not be cheap and lazy -- I just want to know the easiest way to have more grass and fewer weeds. Does the "mow high" guideline apply the same to Bermuda grass?

Thanks.




I'm wondering this myself as I'm trying to decide which Reel Mower to purchase.
 
gardener
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paul wheaton wrote:You will want to focus on cool season grasses.

I saw something like what you are looking for in an Ortho book on lawns. If you skip over all the stuff about hosing everything down with chemicals, it's a damn good book!



Ortho consumer products, including the books, is owned by Monsanto Corp. This may explain why those books push chemicals. This is one of the oldest threads that I've brought forward.

edit --- Ooops. I only read page one of ten. It appeared that this had sat for 8 years.
 
Posts: 13
Location: Montana Zone 5b
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I share the link to Paul's article whenever I find a chance to have it well received. My own lawn has all sorts of things growing which are not grass and I haven't put anything on it except it's own clippings for years. As long as it gets some water it is every bit as green as the neighbor's who have the truck come and spray everything with NPK and whatever else they use.
 
Posts: 35
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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I have a Ryobi battery operated mower.

I have been mowing at the highest setting, but the grass gets matted down and often looks like a deer has been bedding on it, or something. Also, I have to cross-cut at least twice to try to hit the grass from all angles. It does not "stand-up" well to be cut. I cut the grass about every 4 days at this time of year. It's necessary to cut at least that often to keep within the 1/3 rule.

The issue shouldn't be lack of water. The grass received 1" of water about 3 days ago. The grass is a mixture of KBG, fescue, rye, and white clover. The crab grass hasn't shown up yet.

I have read about tall fescue. I'd rather deal with what is here than start over with something else. I have gypsumed and limed. The pH was 5.1, so the liming is going to be a year long process, at least.

I haven't put a ruler to the wheels of the mower, but I assume it's about 3 1/2 to 4". Is it possible that the battery operated mower doenst have the suction to stand the grass up for cutting? Am I just keeping it too long?
 
John C Robinson
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Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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Also, to answer the questions I am likely to be asked; I cannot have goats, cows, chickens, or a warren of rabbits in this city. I share a side yard with a neighbor, and if I don't keep a good looking lawn there, he will do it, and it will involve a whole lot of chemicals. If I let weeds like crabgrass, ragweed, or dandelions take over, someone WILL spray them when I am not looking.

I know a lot of you think grass is evil, but half the yards in this city are paved and painted green, then there are the dirt yards that serve as arenas for pit bull fighting. I'll take my lawn.
 
John Flower
Posts: 17
Location: New Zealand
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John C Robinson wrote:I have a Ryobi battery operated mower.

I have been mowing at the highest setting, but the grass gets matted down and often looks like a deer has been bedding on it, or something. Also, I have to cross-cut at least twice to try to hit the grass from all angles. It does not "stand-up" well to be cut. I cut the grass about every 4 days at this time of year. It's necessary to cut at least that often to keep within the 1/3 rule.

The issue shouldn't be lack of water. The grass received 1" of water about 3 days ago. The grass is a mixture of KBG, fescue, rye, and white clover. The crab grass hasn't shown up yet.

I have read about tall fescue. I'd rather deal with what is here than start over with something else. I have gypsumed and limed. The pH was 5.1, so the liming is going to be a year long process, at least.

I haven't put a ruler to the wheels of the mower, but I assume it's about 3 1/2 to 4". Is it possible that the battery operated mower doenst have the suction to stand the grass up for cutting? Am I just keeping it too long?



Photos would help. Below are some general suggestions,

Did you suddenly go from low to the highest setting on your mower? I've found that sometimes it is better to raise the height of the mower slowly, over weeks, or months. The reason being that grass will tend to flop if it isn't in a dense sward. The more leaves you cut, the more the grass is encouraged to put out side shoots - which thicken the turf. But if it is sparse, and floppy, then less is cut, you won't get a dense lawn. You need a dense lawn to force the leaves of the nongrass plants vertical for cutting. Try reducing the cutting height until you do get a good cut, then keep that height for a few weeks and raise it one increment each mow until you feel you aren't getting a good cut. Keep this height until you do and then raise the height. And so on.

Consider:-
  • Your mower may have a weak engine
  • The batteries may be old and not putting out as much power
  • Your blades may need a sharpen.

  • Perhaps borrow a mower and compare the cut?

    Tall turf looks crisp if it is edged well where it meets a path, or solid edging. Long handled edging shears, as well as rotary disc edgers, will give your turf a strong edge. This may sway some neighbours in your favour.

    Frequent cutting is a sign of health. A sad lawn grows slowly. This observation may not apply to you.... I live in a neighbourhood where no one fertilises their lawns, nor do they weedkill. The only thing they do is mow on the lowest setting. So my lawn grows fast in comparison.

    A lawn is a fantastic thing. It is part of my cultural heritage, my ancestors have had lawns for hundreds of years. There is nothing better for playing outdoor sport on, nor a a better surface for a picnic. Turf supports a different range of animals from other forms of planting.... and without one your garden would have less biodiversity. Turf also fulfils a similar role to gravel in a Zen garden, a patch of tranquillity from which to admire the rest of the garden. Be proud of your lawn.
     
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    Please help me!
    We moved into our house 6 years ago and have had one tragedy after another and our lawn has suffered for it. Every spring, I'm all gung-ho with "I'm getting this yard into shape"! and something comes up and some years, the best I can do is to pull the weeds out of our driveway cracks. So, it's March and I'm saying it again: This is the year I'm getting the yard into shape! The good news is: I haven't used any chemicals in the 6 years that I've been here. The bad news is: I've got more thistle than grass. I also have these weird woody-weed things growing in my most neglected areas. I have 3 areas that I cannot mow at all. One is about 4' x 5' and I have it covered in black plastic for 2 years. The other is quite large, between the driveway and the house (which sounds easy enough to mow, but it's not) and it's halfway covered by black plastic. Thorny stuff grows there. Finally there's an elevated area beside my garage that has not been mowed in 6 years. I once took my grass whip to it, tho.
    In the years prior, we have had the worst luck with lawn mowers, but I think this year, we've finally got a good riding mower and a good push mower, so that should take care of 80% of the yard (almost an acre surrounded by a chain link fence). I don't mind mowing, but I hate weed-whacking, so that never happens. The fenceline is a disgrace!
    I was drawn to this forum because I'm really lazy and dirt poor. The weather is supposed to be nice this week, so here I go... I'm ready to peel the plastic off the 4x5 spot and try my luck... due to a failed gardening experiment last year, I have enough compost and topsoil to cover said area with 2-3 inches of fresh stuff. Oh, I also have a pet rabbit and unlimited fresh, free fertilizer! So what would happen if I planted some fescue seeds on top of decent dirt with a layer of topsoil, compost and rabbit cage waste and just left it alone (I'm not so lazy that I won't water it, but that's as much maintenance as I want to put into it)?
    I have birds and worms and bees and normal stuff. I'm in East TN, so it gets hot and humid but usually rains when it's needed. So, what can I do so that my yard doesn't look like the house has been empty for years... without spending a lot of money or effort (really lazy, remember?!) ?
     
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    hey ashley,

    welcome to the forums. i can t help you with the lawn-question but there s another thread concerning gardening and weeds which might have some inspiration for you.

    here s the link: http://www.permies.com/t/53431/missoula/Toby-Hemenway-Bombproof-Sheetmulch#438294

    for the neglected areas: have you considered growin plants that you would like to have? so that they ll shade out much/most of the weeds...


    have a nice weekend!
    tobias
     
    Ashley Roland
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    Tobias Ber wrote:hey ashley,

    welcome to the forums. i can t help you with the lawn-question but there s another thread concerning gardening and weeds which might have some inspiration for you.

    here s the link: http://www.permies.com/t/53431/missoula/Toby-Hemenway-Bombproof-Sheetmulch#438294

    for the neglected areas: have you considered growin plants that you would like to have? so that they ll shade out much/most of the weeds...


    have a nice weekend!
    tobias



    Thank you for the warm welcome and the response!

    I just had to "go for it"... and I tried to attach a pic of what I've gotten so far! It still looks awfully barren in this picture, but trust me, it's an improvement! The brown stuff is what has been covered by the black plastic. I have been watering it every day (except the times it's rained, of course!) and I pull a handful of the dead, brown stuff out before I water.
    I'm considering planting sunflowers in a "difficult but not impossible" spot to mow, by the road and trying my hand with rooting some cuttings of a pretty yellow bush that I have and would like to have about 50 more in one spot by the garage
    I also threw down some seed in a barren "trail" that the dogs circle the house.. but no soil or compost or any covering. It gets watered with the area in the picture, but no new growth.
    Both lawnmowers are still out of commission so far this year... But it's only the first day of Spring, even though I feel like I'm far behind, I suppose I'll live.....
    12516853_1139644706060168_1728673528_o.jpg
    [Thumbnail for 12516853_1139644706060168_1728673528_o.jpg]
     
    Tobias Ber
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    hey ashley... thank you for the update.
    this year i ll try calendulas and nasturtiums as cover. they re hardy and possibly might self-seed next year. they ll shade out some weeds and grass.
    the flowers are edible. the plants are supposed to be shade tolerant.

    i plan to add some rudbeckias. they seem to be perennial in our climate.

    they might grow under sunflowers.

    it helps to rake the seeds into the soil.

    maybe there are flower seed-mixtures which will self-seed and/or contain some perennials, that might help with some places in your garden.
     
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    Hi. I know people have been posting on this for a while. I just read that lawn care article the other day.
    I was going to read through the post to see if anyone already had asked my question, but I thought this might be easier.

    I have a lot of moss in back yard. Which is fine. I have heard from the neighborhood farmers (i live in the city right next to an urban farm) that the soil here is Alkaline. It also maaaaybe seems like my soil is compacted. It's pretty good soil, but our grass doesn't do great.  

    I was going to rent a airator, buy some leaf compost, and over seed.

    1: is moss bad for grass? Is moss a sign of some other quality in my yard? - I don't mind moss other than my dog tears it and leaves mud spots (at my parents house even when its super wet the dog never gets muddy because they have such nice grass - i like that idea. )

    2: Do you think an airator is over kill/ how do you know if you have compacted soil

    3: Is adding compost good enough to help with PH or should I add garden acidifier?


     
    John Flower
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    Location: New Zealand
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    Ted, moss is an indicator that there is poor drainage. Anything you do to improve drainage will reduce the moss. Your aeration, overseed, and top dressing plan seems like a reasonable plan. You can top dress with compost as many times a year as you wish if the climate allows it. Long term following the suggestions in Mr Wheaton's article (mow high, water deep, leave the clippings) will help reduce the moss. You may never get rid of all moss, but you can make it better.

    Also consider the possibility that large trees nearby may cast shade and reduce airflow. Their roots will also take nutrients before the grass can get them. Moss does better than grass in constantly damp, nutrient poor conditions.

    Fix the drainage through compost and a better mowing regime and come back to looking at pH in a years time.

    Do you have any photos of your lawn?
     
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    I think you should get a soil analysis from the area where the moss is. It's my opinion that moss grows in highly acidic soil, so there's a conflict in opinions here which will be confirmed by the soil test. The test will also tell you how much modification you need.

    I have a patch of moss about 60'x100' and have been mowing over it for 14 years and leaving the clippings. There has been no discernible difference yet. I have also used a thick lime application to kill moss, and it killed it. But I wouldn't add lime if your soil is truly alkaline. The problem with my leaving clippings is that the moss is so thick that there are few clippings, mostly sheared moss and a occasional Kentucky Bluegrass weed among it. That's a joke about the quality of the weed, but I'm just trying to convey how little grass is in this patch. This spot is so far from the house that I don't really care, it's green and easy to mow. The spot is surrounded on 3 sides by 60 foot tall Norway Spruces.

    If a test does confirm acidic soil I'd suggest spreading powdered lime with a drop spreader so thick that the surface is white. Don't use pelleted lime it's too expensive to make any difference in your soil. Aerating will help get some of that lime into the soil. From my experience if you kill the moss you'll now have a thick layer of brown dead moss for a long time, so you'd have to consider how to clear the dead moss out of there. From my memory it didn't decompose.

    Good luck.
     
    Tobias Ber
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    our most obvious lawn problem: it does not take foot traffic well. The soil is heavy clay. Climate is wet and often overcast, the lawn is in partial shade. So we do not get that much of new growth.
    When you walk on it when it s wet, then the grass sticks to the clay which kills it...

    I m using a digging fork to push holes into the lawn and i m spreading (commercial) potting soil and our compost. I m trying to establish mulched flower beds around it to increase soil life
     
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