Gerry Miller

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since Aug 29, 2006
Midlothian, IL Zone 5
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Recent posts by Gerry Miller

Paul;

Well of course, you can raise grass without any fertilizer, but without water, that ain't gonna happen, no matter how drought resistant a type of grass is. Even buffalo grass needs at least 20% of normal rain fall to survive. But, what will it look like? Proper mowing and watering are the most important cultural aspect in regards to lawns. Fertilizer is not needed for a lawn to survive. If you want you lawn to just survive or to be all it can be? That is your choice, of course.

Here is a web site you should investigate when you have time. It will tell you everything you need to know about ACT.

http://www.soilfoodweb.com/03_about_us/approach.html

This is the web site of Dr. Elaine Ingham, a leader in the field of soil biology.

Here is another site that provides info on ACT:
http://www.intlctc.org/default.asp

While I have several fruit trees on my property, everyone has their own choice what they wise to raise on their property.  You opinion of an ornamental lawn is just that, your opinion.  The truth of the matter is, a well maintain lawn has many useful purposes. One, it increases the value of your property, which after all, is an investment. Just make good common sense to protect your investment.

Climate is controlled at ground level by turf grasses as they cool temperatures appreciably, thus working as exterior "air conditioners".

Eight healthy front lawns have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air conditioning – enough for 16 average homes.

Dust and smoke particles from the atmosphere are trapped by turf which helps make the air cleaner.

Fire retardation buffer areas of well maintained lawn grasses around buildings is good insurance.

Groundwater is enhanced in two ways by a dense turf. Turf grasses increase infiltration of water and also clean the water as it passes so that underground water supplies are recharged for use by us all.

Health of humans is enhanced by turf grasses as they function in cushioning, cleaning air, generating oxygen and creating a serene landscape.

Lawns are estimated to occupy an area of between 25,000,000 to 30,000,000 acres in the United States (the size of the 5 New England states) and as the population increases so too will the amount of turf grass acreage.

Noise is absorbed by grass areas which cut down on the excessive sound, a growing problem in urban areas. Grassed slopes beside lowered expressways reduce noise by 8-10 decibels.

Oxygen generation by turf grasses has a major impact in making our environment habitable. A 50x50 lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four.

So, as you can see, a well maintained lawn is more than just a 'pretty face'!

But if one grows veggies and plants a row for the hungry and supplies a local food shelter, well that is a worthy cause to be sure.

Gerry Miller
12 years ago
Oh no doubt, going organic is the only way to manage your lawn. As Paul said, we have different views on certain things, but being organic is the way to go.

I must add though, I have over 5 years of experience with using alfalfa meal and I know literally hundreds of people who use it exclusively when overseeding and reseeding with no ill effects. This point I am certain on. You cannot burn seedling with organic protein meals. They are very slow release and feed the soil organisms over a period weeks and will not burn.  In fact when I apply these protein meals, it turns out I apply around 26 lbs per 1000 sq ft as I apply one 50 lb bag to cover one side of my yard which is 1800 sq ft. and 50 lbs to the other side of my lawn which is also 1800 sq ft with a drive way running up the middle. And using that amount, I have never hurt anything in my lawn. Protein meals don't work that way.  Very slow release.

However, when you put down 26 lbs per 1000 sq ft of soybean meal, you will have a distinct smell for a few days  that is unpleasant to some. But I love the smell of alfalfa. It has a very healthy smell to it.

Gerry Miller
12 years ago
Paul;

Since I advocate and use Aerated Compost Teas, by soil has a very good balanced soil foodweb. Because of this, I can go longer without watering. My guess is, I could go as long if not longer than your Tall Fescue.  In fact, my first watering in my lawn didn't come until July of this year. No water added the entire spring!  That's 3 months. Could you do that?  

As far as time spent on my lawn, well, that's my hobby. I enjoy it, so I don't mind puttering around. I raised hosta's, daylilys, clematis vines and various summer and spring bulbs, so I do spend more time fertilizing these plants than my lawn.

As far as cost go, the most expensive fertilizer I purchase is Corn Gluten Meal. I purchase 2 50 lb bags in the early spring and apply when the Forsythia blooms. That cost me $14 per bag. So that's $28.00  Late May I applied Alfalfa Meal, 2 50 lb bags cost me $7.00 per bag, so that's $14.00.  We are up to $42 now. I apply Soybean meal in July, 2 50 lb bags at $8.00 each, so that's $16.00. Now we are up to $58.00 Up to this point I don't have any increase in my water bill since I haven't watered all year.

I'll apply one more application of Alfalfa meal and soybean meal this year. That is $30 more dollars for a total of $88.00  With two applications of ACT, lets say it costs me $100 over a 6 month period. That's a little over $16 per month. or about 53 cents a day. A mere bag of shells! If you are a beer drinker, you spend more than I do on my lawn for beer!

However, my lawn would look at least 50% better than yours, with not that much more work. Color of my lawn would be superior and it's texture would be fine grass blades and nothing compared to coarse TF. My grass will remind you of a golf course, your's might be more like green acres. LOL....just kidding.

There is nothing wrong with mixing grass seeds regardless of their germination time. In fact, that is one of the reasons people use perennial rye grass is it gives you coverage very quickly and prevents weeds from moving in. One of the main reasons you mix seed is that if one type of grass comes down with some disease and wipes out that species, the two or so remaining grass types should survive and still provide you coverage and not bare soil.

I might add as well, that it's a good practice, in my opinion, you overseed your lawn every few years with newer, more advanced grass seed to help diversify your lawn and protect against disease. Of course, this cost money, and is just a option to those would like to improve their lawns over a period of time.

Gerry Miller
12 years ago
Well that depends on what you are using to fertilize. If you use alfalfa meal or soybean meal, it's perfectly safe to apply at the same time you seed. At 20 lbs per 1000 sq ft there is no chance of burning or hurting your soil organisms or seedlings whatsoever. Remember it takes between 14 to 21 days for the soil organisms to break down these meals to then be available to your grass. With KBG, it takes 21 days, on average, for germination. They work together quite well.

The only way you can fertilize too much with protein meals is to smother the grass, period. You can't put down too much. That's one of the advantages of using protein meals.

The grass seed is self contained as it doesn't require any nutrition until it germinates. After that point, any protein meals you apply will help provide the soil organisms what they need.  Alfalfa meal, as I have stated before, has a growth hormone that will help develop the root system for your new grass seedlings.

Another consideration, if you don't want to be too cheap, especially with all the work involved with preparing your soil for overseeding, is to treat your grass seed with MycoGrow Micronized Endo/Ecto Seed Mix. It's cheap to use and will make a world of difference on your new grass success. Check out their web site:
http://www.fungi.com/mycogrow/index.html

Gerry Miller



12 years ago
Tall fescue is a bunch type grass and as such does spread by tillers. Although they may have short rhizomes, they still spread slowly by tillers. I've never heard anything about this type of grass being 'reclassified'.

This is one of the reasons I like Summit Seed Co as you can pick the best they have available and mix your own seed without purchasing some cheap annual grass seed. They even provide a section where you tell them what you want, and they will give you what blend they feel works best for your area. This is a most important consideration. Grass in Northern IL won't grass as near as well as in say Virginia. These companies test seeds for performance in various areas around the country and can give you very good and free advise. Also be advised there is a huge difference in color as well. Midnight and Midnight II are two of the darkness varieties of KBG you'll ever find. Much darker than other varieties of KBG. So color has to be of consideration as well.   

Go to Summit Seed and see what they recommend for your needs:
http://summitseed.com/products.asp

Gerry Miller
12 years ago
Jeff;

Unfortunately, Espoma fertilizer is not organic, regardless of what they state. With an organic practice, you are not concerned with NPK numbers. That's for synthetic chemical fertilizer users. You should be concerned with feeding the soil biology, the soil foodweb. They need protein to be happy and healthy.

Gerry Miller
12 years ago
Hennagaijin;

I've never heard of that mixture. However, when it comes to buying grass seed, you really get what you pay for!  Not the place to try and save money, don't get cheap grass seed. Buy the best you can afford.  Better the seed, the better results.

Don't buy seed from Home Depot or Lowes.....not the place to buy seed.

Check out that summit seed link I sent.  Or check out Seedland.com

Gerry Miller
12 years ago
Actually, Kentucky Blue Grass is 2 X more expensive than Tall fescue, and not even close in color. If you have the correct soil biology, your imputs for water and fertilizer will actually be less, not more.

Summit Seed:

Midnight KBG $6.06 per pound

AMIGO Tall Fescue (most expensive one I could find) $3.13 per pound.

Most Tall Fescue sells for around $2.95

http://summitseed.com/products.asp

Gerry Miller
12 years ago
"After you cooked them"  You think they are still good after that 
I don't think so.

Gerry Miller
12 years ago
If you are using organic fertilizer, like protein meals, you are actually feeding the soil organisms, not your grass plants. Then once the micro herd is fed, it in turn feeds your grass plants, turn around time is about 2-3 weeks on average.

One of the many advantages of using an organic practice is that you can feed your soil biology any time of year without any damage to your soil or grass. No worries. This applies to protein meals. The soil biology should be fed from early spring, thru summer and more often in the fall. Blood meal, while being organic, is fast release and can burn up your soil. It should never be used on your lawn, in my opinion.

If you use synthetic fertilizers, then you shouldn't fertilize in the early spring or during summer. It actually weakens the grass and invites disease and insect problems.  Synthetic fertilizers by passes the soil organisms and works directly on plants roots. Turns your lawn into a chemical junkie.

Grass is a nitrogen pig.  But if you apply protein meals early spring, late spring, summer and 2 times in the fall, your grass will respond very nicely.

If you only want to fertilize once a year, it should be done in the fall as this is the most important time to fertilize.

Proper mowing and watering are actually more important than using fertilizer. Those two cultural things should be employed first for best results.

Gerry Miller
12 years ago