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Thatch and lawns  RSS feed

 
Posts: 35
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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I have been mowing high and leaving the clippings. The problem is, it's been raining so much. The gass is often wet, and when it's finally dry enough to mow, it's too long.
The electric mower doesn't really have to power to properly mulch up these longer clippings, and I'm now getting patches that are nothing but brown, clipped grass. I can rake up the thatch, but the bag of corn gluten I applied earlier in the season said that doing that would disturb the weed resistance that the corn gluten (supposedly) provides.

Will this break down on its own? I have a feeling that this is why I always bagged the clippings, but I bought into the "free fertilizer" aspect of leaving the clippings.

I'm trying to avoid the massive crab grass infiltration I had last year.

I also have grubs. I've applied nematodes for several years, but they don't seem to be doing anything. I have milky spore, and was going to add that, too. But these thatchy, dead areas I have at not in the grub infested areas.
 
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
235
forest garden urban
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As far as I can see, a bigger problem for you with the corn gluten may be the continual rain. When you apply it, according to Iowa State (who discovered this use for corn gluten in the first place) you need a period of dryness after the initial watering. The corn gluten keeps newly sprouted seeds from forming roots and they dehydrate and die before they can grow. Weeds have time to recover and form roots later if they're continually moist after germination.

As for the thatch development, if you're just starting to use organic methods, you may not have enough soil biology to keep up with the amount of clippings you're producing right now. I'm still of mixed mind about whether it would be best to rake up the clippings for a compost pile or leave in place. In my region most perennial grass grows by runnners and rhizomes which would appreciate a thick mulch that shaded out weed seeds while they colonized the area. I don't know what kinds of grasses you grow in Maine. I've heard that cooler parts of the country prefer grasses with completely different growing habits.

I'm sorry to hear that the nematodes didn't help with your grubs. I use them for fire ant control and happily found that grubs were one of many pest species that they helped me with.
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 35
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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Thanks for the response.

I am just north of Boston, in Massachusetts. My grass is mostly fescues with bluegrass mixed in.

I found diatomaceous earth the be awesome for ant control. I keep going with the nematodes and the milky spore. Eventually I figure the population will be high enough to be effective.
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 35
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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John C Robinson wrote:

Most of this in in full sun most of the time. It is a fine-bladed grass, I think it might be fine fescue.



A picture of part of my lawn from last June or July. I had this posted in another thread
 
Casie Becker
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
235
forest garden urban
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I think the deciding factor is whether it sends out runners or not. If it's not sending out runners, I'd think raking would be a good idea. Of course, I wouldn't be the one doing the raking. The information I need is how to keep the grass from retaking all the ground I keep driving it out of. Our grass is VERY aggressive.

 
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