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organic lawn care for the cheap and lazy

 
Posts: 455
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft Grafter, veggie gardener
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I'd suggest you investigate whether you can buy mushroom manure in your area. Mushroom manure is manure that was used to grow mushrooms commercially. It's spent manure still with plenty of nourishment for your lawn. It's advantage is that it was steamed 2 or 3 times. It's been used to grow a couple batches of mushrooms. So; many of the weed seeds have germinated and been picked out. The steaming will also kill many weed seeds. It will green up a lawn and any roots of your trees and plantings that grow under the lawn. This is a permanent organic improvement to your lawn and the soil.

Spreading this is not as easy as buying a bag of fertilizer as you can't buy a spreader at the big box store. I've bought a pickup load and spread it over a lawn quite a few times. You only need a small covering. A half inch thick. An inch thick covering won't hurt your lawn. You do need to break up the 3 inch diameter clumps that you will find before you spread it. I'd suggest you use a flat shovel not a spade. You simply throw a shovel full over a broad area and on successive throws try to spread it evenly. Small areas can be covered by rocking the shovel so the it falls off the shovel on either side. If this product is available in your area then I'd either use my pickup, a rental, or get it delivered, for about $35 a load in this area. The product is about $35 a yard and you can comfortably get 2 yards in an 8 foot pickup bed. If you use a truck you have the advantage of getting it closer to where your spreading it. Myself tho, I wouldn't drive the truck over the lawn.

Another thing you can do is to spread grass seed before you spread the manure. A light covering of seed is called overseeding. A heavy layer of seed would be reseeding. If you sow the seed by hand you can do the overseeding/reseeding in one pass by simply sowing as much seed as each area needs. Myself I spread more seed than many do; as I find the amount you save by going cheap isn't worth the effort you've spent in labor.

I've added amendments to the manure. If you have clay I'd suggest you shovel 3 shovels of mushroom manure and one of sand into a wheel barrow. By the time you shovel it out of the wheel barrow and onto the lawn the product will spread extremely evenly. The sand is amazing at changing the tilth. When you buy this it may be quite wet. If it's been raining a lot it'll be much worse than if you buy it after a few days of dry weather. You can also mix some lime into the mixture. There are some on this site that will tell you to never add sand to clay, but they do this on golf courses where it's called topdressing. Also the majority of top soil sold commercially in my area is a shredded mix of clay and sand without any improvements.
 
John Indaburgh
Posts: 455
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft Grafter, veggie gardener
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I should have mentioned the smell. It will smell for a couple of days. Watering will help, and will also help the seed. With this product over top of the seed you won't have to water as often, but don't let it dry out.

If your lawn needs aerated I'd suggest you do it after you get this job done.

 
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Hello, I've enjoyed this "lawn care for the cheap and lazy" post for years and I esp love the graphic of the weeds vs. grass. Could I please have permission to use it in a slide show I give called Landscape for Life? It's a presentation I offer in the community for free.
 
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We rely heavily on wood chips from local tree trimmers, bags of raked fallen leaves from neighbors, and our own compost/vermicompost bins to build healthy soil.
 
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I've been following your "Organic lawn care for the cheap and lazy" advise for over 10 years and have been using organic fertilzers on my lawn for as long. I've used Ringer and a Ringer clone "Purely Organic" and for the last 2 years "Dr. Earth". The "lawn care nuts" on youtube are always promoting the use of a fertilizer called Milorganite. It is a biosolid that is a waste product of the Milwalkie sewer system that is supposed to be organic. What is your opinion of this fertilizer? Is it something that would be ok and good to use or is it something to stay away from?
 
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Curious with Ringer no longer available, what fertilizer you are using in fall.
 
steward
Posts: 12699
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I'm not sure how Milorganite, being made from Milwaukee sewage sludge, could actually be truly organic and healthful.  I'm sure it passes the organic rules but there's a lot of stuff dumped down the drain that could maybe possibly end up in that stuff.
 
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My lawn is old.  I hate the way it looks.  It is full of bare patches & weeds.  I’ve had it aerated & dethatchec over the years and it still is eye pleasing.
I have put dirt down on bate patched with seed band still looks patchy.

It doesn’t help that we are in z as n area where there is a water deficit of 8” this year.  We do water and isn’t cheap.

What should I try to do for fall?  Aerate/ dethatching, seeding or put what fertilizer down to help with the weeds too.
 
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Carol, welcome to the forum.

I don't understand "we are in z as n area" though I can understand being where water is scarce.

For now, maybe you can find a good organic compost for those blank patches.

I would suggest trying to find a drought-tolerant native grass that will grow in your area for those blank patches.

If this grass will grow where you live it might help fill in those patches:

https://permies.com/t/93789/Love-Affair-Buffalograss-Buchloe-dactyloides
 
pollinator
Posts: 254
Location: Western MA, zone 6b
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Here is my "lawn".    People always comment "that doesn't look like a dog yard."    I mow it at about 6"  and I use a mulching mower to keep all my grass clippings and fall leaves on the lawn.   Unless I'm collecting some for the compost bin.    I overseeded with "microclover" but it looks like pretty normal white clover to me.    Yellow spots... I just sprinkle a little grass seed on them and kick it in.    I even scythe some of the clover and dry it for my rabbits overwinter.   It's about the laziest you can get with a lawn while still mowing.   I don't water or do put anything on it.   It's surrounded by a wide perimeter of deep wood chip garden,  I do think that has some benefits for the yard area as well.   I've been here 3 summers.   When I moved in, it was bare short scalped lawn with all organic matter removed and conventionally maintained.  It looked so sad.  Now when I dig I see a nice layer of dark topsoil.  

First picture with dog is before mowing,  2nd two are AFTER mowing.
lawn.jpg
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lawn2.jpg
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lawn3.jpg
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