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Starting an Organic Lawn- help appreciated!  RSS feed

 
Annie Zielonska
Posts: 1
Location: Greenbelt of Ontario, Canada
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Hi everyone! My backyard's lawn is pretty much dead, and I would really like to start it over with a new organic lawn, but after a few days of intense internet searches and trying to read up on the topic I found 2 things: 1-There is a whole world of knowldedge/information about grass, and 2- I'm more confused now than ever about what steps to take to have a nice, new organic lawn. So I'm hopeing someone/s on here may be willing to help with some advice

Here are the basic stats I'm dealing with: It's an L-shape lawn , with an area of 1,100 ft sq.-- 1/3 of it is dirt, 1/3 small cup-sized bundles of grass patches trying to grow (about 1-2 inches tall) and 1/3 moss/weeds. (We just bought the house last summer, and knew there'd be work to be done come this spring). I've decided to go organic since we have little kids and found the cheap/lazy approach from richsoil.com pretty convincing.

The soil: Thus far I tried to do a soil test to see how much top soil there is by digging a 1' x 1' hole out, about a foot deep, but couldn't see a dividing line between where topsoil may be, so I assume there is no top soil. From holding/squeezing soil I think it's mostly clay, as it clumps solidly together and doesn't fall apart. Good thing if I ever wonna start doing pottery, but not helpful right now for grass growing.

The plan: So I have the idea to buy xx amount of organic top soil bags, to cover the whole area about 6''-12'', (maybe mix it with compost? as suggested on richsoil.com) then buy organic lawn seed that grows well in shade (we have 4 large trees in our 40' sq. backyard, so very little sun exposure, hence all the moss), and a grass-seed will do ok with kids running on it throughout the summer... I'm confused about whether to fertilize, and when to fertilize and what to fertlilize with Do I put fertlizer under or mix with the soil and compost all together?

Sincerely confused,
AnnieZ
 
Jd Gonzalez
Posts: 215
Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
13
forest garden greening the desert hunting trees
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Hi Annie, for low maintenance and low watering needs, zoysia grass its the way to go. Im in USDA zone 6 east coast, in the fall it goes dormant. I do not fertilize it nor water it and it stays green from late spring to early fall.
 
Frank Brentwood
Posts: 81
Location: Long Island, NY (Zone 7)
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Annie Zielonska wrote:Hi everyone! My backyard's lawn is pretty much dead, and I would really like to start it over with a new organic lawn, but after a few days of intense internet searches and trying to read up on the topic I found 2 things: 1-There is a whole world of knowldedge/information about grass, and 2- I'm more confused now than ever about what steps to take to have a nice, new organic lawn. So I'm hopeing someone/s on here may be willing to help with some advice

Here are the basic stats I'm dealing with: It's an L-shape lawn , with an area of 1,100 ft sq.-- 1/3 of it is dirt, 1/3 small cup-sized bundles of grass patches trying to grow (about 1-2 inches tall) and 1/3 moss/weeds. (We just bought the house last summer, and knew there'd be work to be done come this spring). I've decided to go organic since we have little kids and found the cheap/lazy approach from richsoil.com pretty convincing.

The soil: Thus far I tried to do a soil test to see how much top soil there is by digging a 1' x 1' hole out, about a foot deep, but couldn't see a dividing line between where topsoil may be, so I assume there is no top soil. From holding/squeezing soil I think it's mostly clay, as it clumps solidly together and doesn't fall apart. Good thing if I ever wonna start doing pottery, but not helpful right now for grass growing.

The plan: So I have the idea to buy xx amount of organic top soil bags, to cover the whole area about 6''-12'', (maybe mix it with compost? as suggested on richsoil.com) then buy organic lawn seed that grows well in shade (we have 4 large trees in our 40' sq. backyard, so very little sun exposure, hence all the moss), and a grass-seed will do ok with kids running on it throughout the summer... I'm confused about whether to fertilize, and when to fertilize and what to fertlilize with Do I put fertlizer under or mix with the soil and compost all together?

Sincerely confused,
AnnieZ


Welcome to Permies, AnnieZ!

First, before you go out and buy lots of expensive bags of questionable "organic topsoil", check your local garden centers and commercial growers for bulk quantities that you can have delivered by truck. Look at it and touch it and talk to the guys that are selling it before you buy. It will be cheaper than bags and keeps the business local, if you are lucky enough to find a place. It will also be of better quality since it hasn't sat around in a life-sucking plastic bag for who-knows-how-long.

Second, think more about feeding the soil than about feeding the grass. Organic lawn plans often do not include anything that is recognized as "fertilizer", but rather lots and lots of organic matter put on the lawn area to feed the soil food web. Keep the critters happy and they will make your grass happy.

Third, check your Purple Moosages
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 2297
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau, Annie, first lets get what you have already there conditioned a bit before you start adding soil or new grass seed.

I would first spread agricultural lime over the area. Start with a 50 lb. bag and spread it evenly over the 1100 sq. ft. water this in with a sprinkler.
Now you need to decide if you are going with sod or if you plan to seed.
Sod will go down fast and most likely you would not need to add soil to the area.
Seed is my personal preferred method of putting in a lawn since you can determine what variety of grass and how thick the grass becomes.
For seeding I would get a nursery to deliver some top soil and spread that over the lawn area so it is around 2" thick, water to settle this in then when the moisture has sunk in begin seeding with a drop spreader or sling spreader.
I would spread the seed fairly heavy (around a numerical setting of 5-7 on either spreader type).
Then lightly rake to cover the seeds and water with a fine mist about three times a day for the first two or three days, then often enough after that to keep the soil moist but not soaked for 7 days, this will allow as many of the grass seeds to sprout as possible.
Once these are up around 2" in height, spread another seeding at a numerical setting of 3-5 and water with the fine mist the first day, after that a single daily watering will do since you already have some grass plants growing to provide some shading of the soil.
When two more weeks have past it will be time for the first mowing.
After you complete this first mowing (no shorter than 3" on the cut height) come back with a third seeding pass with the same setting on the spreader as the second seeding pass.
Repeat the watering in and daily watering for the first week, then go to a once a week deep watering.
At this point your grass plants will be telling you if you need to do a second lime spreading, but I doubt you will, some good compost tea put over the lawn with a sprayer will give nutrition to the grass and also help condition the soil underneath.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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