I just recently came across this site after watching some YouTube videos and continuing to research better solutions for my current lawn program. I spent a good amount of money in the early spring and bought Scott's 4 step system for my almost 1 acre lawn. This is the second year in a row and I'm not seeing great results as compared to my neighbor who doesn't fertilize at all.
My big questions are around going from a set lawn program into what I believe is being called permaculture. What I've seen commercially and in my current program is lots of stuff to kill bad weeds and crab grasses in your yard and a little to actually promote the growth of the rest of the grass. From what I'm seeing on this site and in Paul's article, as well as a few others is that it's better to concentrate on growing the grass first and getting the grass and soil healthy and that will, in turn, take care of the weeds.
Does that sound right? Could anyone point me in the direction of a lawn care program that you have or know that works? I'm really concerned with getting rid of the current weeds I have now and the good amount of crab grass. Ringer and SaferBrand seem to have a lawn care solution but at $200 per 4,000 square feet, I would need to order about $1,000 to get on this program and that seems a bit much. (link: http://www.saferbrand.com/safer-brand-lawn-care-program-bm933397187). I've also seen a lot of people happy with Milogranite but that goes back to just making the current/sparse good grass healthy vs a pre-emergent for other weeds and crab grasses.
I do know one thing that is popular with organic gardeners in this area as a pre-emergent/nitrogen fertilizer combo is corn gluten. I don't know the exact timing of it, but it's been a longstanding part of the organic gardeners toolkit in my area. My understanding is that it's a solution that works moderately well the first year and increasingly well as it is reapplied over time.
Growing a perfect lawn isn't really one of my goals, I just don't want the kinds of 'weeds' that are uncomfortable to walk on or large dead patches leaving bare soil. Without any extra care on my part (not watering, fertilizing or fighting most weeds) My grass has been growing thicker and lusher every year. Bare patches have filled in and every year I have to root out fewer thistles and related plants. I follow the advice in pauls article here http://richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp
Key is to create an environment for grass to thrive. Suggest getting your soil tested to learn PH levels, etc. In my state (MA) our state school (UMass) offers soil tests for $15. With a large yard, I'd probably test 2-4 areas, focusing on trouble areas.
UMass will test the soil and recommend how to amend the soil to create optimal environment for grass - typically an 18-24 month plan.
Once your soil is favorable for grass to grow, and assuming you have top soil, grass will outpace most all weeds.
I have an acre of grass in MA (near Foxboro) and have not used any weed products in the 8 years I have lived in the home - lawn is virtually free of weeds except for clover mixed in and the rogue dandelion.
Also, set mower high (I cut 3 1/2") to promote healthy grass and shade out weeds.
A year ago, I a small area was having issues with crab grass - had the soil tested, learn my PH was way low. A year later, PH is back up and grass has outpaced the crabgrass.
permaculture is largely about replacing oil with people. And one tiny ad: