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Steve
07-12-2009, 12:45 PM
Steve has a great topic to talk to all of us about, organic lawn care.

He would like to discuss a bunch of issues and maybe more if you have more questions for him.

Some of the topics he would like to cover include.

1. Safety and liability of the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides
2. Equipment needed
3. Time and labor savings
4. Environmental concerns
5. Lawn health. A plush healthy lawn is weed and Insect free.
6. How to build humus. Conventional methods don't - they even destroy it
7. Higher profits.
8. An edge over the compitition
9. Present and future regulations. Organic methods are all that is allowed now in Canada. Soon it will be the same here.
10. Be at the forefront of change. Set the standards
11. Methods homeowners don't want to get into. Equipment, time, learning curve, etc.

Steve can you jump in here and share with us some of your thoughts on these topics?

swstout
07-12-2009, 01:54 PM
Steve has a great topic to talk to all of us about, organic lawn care.

He would like to discuss a bunch of issues and maybe more if you have more questions for him.

Some of the topics he would like to cover include.



Steve can you jump in here and share with us some of your thoughts on these topics?

Organic lawn care is easy, profitable, and the tools, equipment and supplies are readily available. No licenses or permits are required. The products are safe to people, pets and the environment.

I use Nature's Lawn products and swear by them. Easy to store, to use, and have behind them years of testing. These products actually build the soil (synthetic and chemical fertilizers just feed the grass and actually harm the soil). They can be applied simultaneously saving time and money. With the exception of their Insect Guard, all can even be applied in the rain.

Most homeowners will mow their own lawn, but shy away from aerating and dethatching giving you a ready made service market.

Originally, we talked about presenting this as video conferences. But decided to use the Forum instead. I developed organic lawn care primer to answer and generate questions. Read the primer and ask you questions. We'll do our best to answer them.

Organic Lawn Care Primer (http://www.swstout.com/organic_lawn_care.html)

What to expect when switching to organic lawn care (http://www.swstout.com/organic_lawn.html)

mark123
07-12-2009, 05:04 PM
... No licenses or permits are required. ...That's a bit disheartening actually. Is that in all states?

mark123
07-12-2009, 05:14 PM
I have a question concerning a problem I deal with quite often. Many of the lawns in the area have been stripped of any proper top soil and then seeded with cheap garbage grass (mostly annual rye) that comes up fast and dies off to leave mostly weeds and pest grass.

One lawn in particular I figured out how much top soil they would need to make an appropriate base for a good lawn. I told them 42 tons of top soil. The contractor they hired put 4 tons (not even 10% of the necessary amount). The results are, let's just say, less than acceptable. So now this lawn with not enough top soil is effectively the same as the stripped lawns with none.

Is there anything that can assist in converting the clay and rocky soil into an even slightly more appropriate lawn base?

mark123
07-12-2009, 05:21 PM
I'm reading some of your site and it seems that you do have some items that will break down the clay (this is great news for me).

I also read that it says that on the first year lawns can go through "withdrawl" from the synthetic, high nitrogen fertilizers. What about lawns that are new and have never become accustomed to fertilizing? I'd be starting them out on organics. Would I still need to apply an extra dose to get it in shape?

ccmark
07-12-2009, 05:52 PM
Can you give us a general idea of what type of schedule these should be on as far as what time in the year is optimum for each application.

mark123
07-12-2009, 06:01 PM
Can you give us a general idea of what type of schedule these should be on as far as what time in the year is optimum for each application.
This will most likely differ from north to south as the lawn types and timing of applications will differ due to the climate zone differences. Steve is in the Carolinas and we are in the cold, cold north. ;)



Steve, if you have any advice on separating the truth from the hype I'd appreciate hearing that as well.

picframer
07-12-2009, 07:01 PM
In your customers situation, although it's tough without seeing the lawn in question here is what I would do, spray Aerify Plus and water heavy, spread about an inch of screened organic top dressing soil, seed, roll, apply a high Nitrogen slow release turf starter, roll again then go back in three to four weeks and spray Natures Magic and organic Fertilizer.

The Organic products do not perform as well as the high Nitrogen slow release granular products on new seed or sod based on my experience which is about 80 new lawns this season.

swstout
07-12-2009, 08:42 PM
That's a bit disheartening actually. Is that in all states?

All the products are considered food sources. The are 100% biodegradable leaving no dangers to people pets or the environment.

I don't know of any state that requires one.

Steve

swstout
07-12-2009, 08:51 PM
I'm reading some of your site and it seems that you do have some items that will break down the clay (this is great news for me).

I also read that it says that on the first year lawns can go through "withdrawl" from the synthetic, high nitrogen fertilizers. What about lawns that are new and have never become accustomed to fertilizing? I'd be starting them out on organics. Would I still need to apply an extra dose to get it in shape?

Aerify is the product you are talking about. It breaks down the clay allowing water and air to penetrate. It also has bio-enhancements that revitalize soil bacteria, enzymes, and fungi that make more nutrients redily available to the plant roots requiring less external nitrogen.

For new lawns not damaged by chemical and synthetic fertilizers, I would use Aerify first, seed or sod, apply Matures Magic to start. Mulch the grass and leaves into the lawn and add the bio-enhanced dethatcher. the mulch will start building humus in weeks.

Steve

mark123
07-12-2009, 08:51 PM
What do you think of using the organic products as a supliment to the traditional products?

I'm getting interested in the Aerify product but not sure of the others.

swstout
07-12-2009, 08:58 PM
Can you give us a general idea of what type of schedule these should be on as far as what time in the year is optimum for each application.

Matures magic and be applied at any time. I add aerify for the soil compaction. Dethatch as needed. A 4 to 5 week schedule for Mature's Magic and Aerify is about right. 2 weeks for poor turf if you want. As long as they are watered in well and the lawn gets proper watering the results are astounding.

Steve

swstout
07-12-2009, 09:03 PM
This will most likely differ from north to south as the lawn types and timing of applications will differ due to the climate zone differences. Steve is in the Carolinas and we are in the cold, cold north. ;)



Steve, if you have any advice on separating the truth from the hype I'd appreciate hearing that as well.

Nature's Lawn is based out of Buffalo, NY, right on the Canadian Border and they have more than 2,000 repeat customers. So I would say north and south get virtually the same results.

As for hype, I have not heard anything discouraging from anyone using the products. Andy got me interested in it and swears by it. He is in Canada.

Steve

mark123
07-12-2009, 09:17 PM
Nature's Lawn is based out of Buffalo, NY, right on the Canadian Border and they have more than 2,000 repeat customers. So I would say north and south get virtually the same results.I was referring to the timing he was asking about. You probably start the fertilizing season a bit earlier than we do.

As for hype, I have not heard anything discouraging from anyone using the products. Andy got me interested in it and swears by it. He is in Canada.
By hype I mean is it just a marketing scheme or is it really the greatest thing since the invention of pretty girls?

From what I understand from the core safety training classes I've attended is that most environmental hazards happen from misapplications. Too much, wrong area or improperly mixed chemicals.

swstout
07-12-2009, 09:36 PM
I was referring to the timing he was asking about. You probably start the fertilizing season a bit earlier than we do.

By hype I mean is it just a marketing scheme or is it really the greatest thing since the invention of pretty girls?

From what I understand from the core safety training classes I've attended is that most environmental hazards happen from misapplications. Too much, wrong area or improperly mixed chemicals.

I start the fertilization process at the winterizing stage with low dose application to sustain the lawn through the slower metabolism of winter. You would have to start the springtime process after the final frost.

I think the invention of pretty girls is still in first place, but I have no complaints so far. No that's not true! Nature's Magic will stain flowers if not carefully applied to flower gardens.

There is no mixing (except with water). Everything is 100% biodegradable so there is no environmental hazards.

Steve

mark123
07-12-2009, 09:41 PM
Thank you for your advice. :)

Yay for pretty girls! :D

picframer
07-13-2009, 04:52 AM
I was referring to the timing he was asking about. You probably start the fertilizing season a bit earlier than we do.

By hype I mean is it just a marketing scheme or is it really the greatest thing since the invention of pretty girls?

From what I understand from the core safety training classes I've attended is that most environmental hazards happen from misapplications. Too much, wrong area or improperly mixed chemicals.

I start spraying in mid April, lawns here doe not get excited or going until May and sometimes late in May.

In April I spray Aerify Plus, Dethacher, Insect Guard, Organic Fertilizer and overseed.

In June, July, August - I use a different Organic Fertilizer that helps control weeds

September - Aerify Plus, Dethacher and Fertilizer

Some lawns may differ but that covers most of our customers.

As for Hype, I would have to read it and see. I researched this product to death, have a great relationship with Natures Lawn, the top gun there Stuart has become a good friend and really knows his stuff.

My own lawn in the front was a disaster so I good trial for this stuff, I had a lot of clay, in fact using your hand you might have been able to get a 10" spike in 2 to3 inches, full of weeds, bare spots etc....basically what we would refer to as the lawn from hell. Today you can drive that spike in an easy 6" so we are getting there.

Anyhow I have been going at it full bore with these products, I will take a picture and show you, it has been overseeded twice but it is the best it has ever been and a fraction of the cost of top soil & sod or even top soil and seed, neighbours and friends ask, what the heck did you do to your lawn???? Even clients that had moss problems are reporting it's gone.

Only complaint is when the guys put a little too much in the mixture, clients say their lawn is on steriods and has to be mowed every few days, that to me is a good thing as grass can be a challange to grow here.

mark123
07-13-2009, 05:33 AM
... As for Hype, I would have to read it and see. ...
I'm not referring to Nature's Lawn specifically but the entire "organic" movement.

Am I correct in understanding that your being in Canada means that you must use organic products? May I ask what other products from other companies that you've tried?

I've been doing my own research and it comes down to that I am just not fully convinced that organic is the "be-all end-all". I'd surely use some products like Aerify and the dethatcher but probably not a full line of strictly organic products.

picframer
07-13-2009, 05:44 AM
I'm not referring to Nature's Lawn specifically but the entire "organic" movement.

Am I correct in understanding that your being in Canada means that you must use organic products? May I ask what other products from other companies that you've tried?

I've been doing my own research and it comes down to that I am just not fully convinced that organic is the "be-all end-all". I'd surely use some products like Aerify and the dethatcher but probably not a full line of strictly organic products.

Every province in Canada differs on the rules and laws, Halifax is the city where I live and was the first in Canada to ban the use of Pesticides and Herbicides, over the years I have used Scottís products, I believe they are the largest supplier of lawn care products in Canada, results were mixed to fair, never great, I have used round up...seems to work for a few weeks or months, Weed and Feed, once again short lived.

The Organic products go at this a different way, get the lawn healthy and keep it there, if you do you will not have weed and bug problems, it can be expensive getting it there but itís easy to maintain.

Like anything, simply try it and determine for yourself, Natures Lawn has over 2,000 customers that rave about it, I only started selling it to clients this year so I only have around 80 to 90 clients to get feed back from, majority of which have used the competition or bought their own products with less than satisfactory results.

ritchiem
07-13-2009, 07:45 AM
I wrote a good primer awhile back on The Lawn Blog all about Organic Lawn Care...I'll paste it in here.

Organic Lawn Care – Naturally

With all of the new laws being passed and the world becoming more aware of what exactly we are putting on our lawns and in our soil, there has been a big push for ‘Organic Lawn Care’.

Organic Lawn Care…what is it? What defines organic? I am sure a lot of readers have a basic understanding of what organic means, but do you know how to apply the term to your lawn? We hope by reading this article you can pull some ideas and put them into practice.

Organic Lawn Care is a series of practices when put into place can create a lush, dense lawn that is less susceptible to weeds and more resistant to insect pests and disease. Something that we are all looking for at the end of the day. I have yet to meet someone that says, “Let it go brown and weedy, that’s the way I like it.” So that being said I hope the following helps a few people out there.

Water Hogs Beware, Your Lawn Doesn’t Thank You

The number one mistake homeowners make when caring for their lawn is overwatering. Drought-enforced watering schedules often result in homeowners watering their lawns too much.
Water studies suggest that when they have to abide by a watering schedule, people apply water several times in short intervals to their lawns. This creates turf diseases. And, ironically, it may increase water consumption.

One reason too much water can be harmful to your home lawn is that it creates a perfect environment for diseases.

So how do you give your lawn the water it needs without putting out a welcome mat for unwanted diseases?

MAKE SURE TO WATER YOUR LAWN IN THE EARLY MORNING!

This gives your lawn plenty of time to dry during the day. You want to maximize the amount of water consistent with good growth but with the least amount of surface wetness.

An example would be to water thoroughly once a week until the top 1 to 2 inches of soil is wet, as opposed to watering three times a week for 30 minutes. The longer any plant is wet, the more you invite diseases.

Mow High and Mow Often

Maintaining your lawn to 3”-4” and never cutting more than 1/3 of its total height at any one time promotes good root structure and growth. Mowing your lawn too short creates weak and shallow root systems therefore making your lawn susceptible to weeds and disease. The exact things we are trying to avoid.

Make sure to mow your lawn once a week when it is growing actively. In summer, however, once every two weeks is usually enough (depending on circumstances; weather, watering, shade, quality of soil).
Grass clippings in moderation can also be left on the lawn. When they breakdown with the help of micro-organisms in the soil, they release nutrients making your lawn healthier. A mulching mower or blade kit can help with this process.

And while we are on the topic of mowing, make sure your lawnmower blade(s) are always sharp. Dull blades tear the grass blades rather than cutting them. The results can be ugly. The tips of your grass blades will turn brown/gray giving your lawn a bad finish. If you are not too sure on how to sharpen and balance your mower blades most small engine repair shops will be happy to do that for you.

Improve Your Soil

By improving your soil quality you are giving your lawn a nice bed to lay in…or on for that matter. There are many way to accomplish this and here are a few.

Aerating

Aerating consists of making many small holes in your lawn by removing plugs of soil with a core aerator or by making holes using a pin aerator. These both come in manual and engine devices. The most common aerator you may have seen is the core aerator.

By doing this you allow a better flow of air, water and nutrients to the roots. This stimulates root growth and prevents thatch build-up. You need to aerate when the ground becomes hard and compacted. Compacted lawns will not absorb water and nutrients as well making for a sad lawn. However, weeds seem grow in abundance in compacted soil.

Because aerating creates quite a few openings in the lawn, it is best done from late-August to mid-September, when lawns are less susceptible to weeds and the ground is moist without being drenched. You can also aerate in spring when the ground is cool but not waterlogged. The idea is to allow your lawn to heal from this process. Aerating in the middle of a hot summer is not a good idea.

Topdressing

Compost, compost and more compost. You cannot get a better topdressing than compost. Compost is both the best soil amendment and the best fertilizer. It adds micro-organisms to the soil, giving them both shelter and nutrients, in addition to improving the soil structure, balancing the pH and supplying essential nutrients for plant growth. You should apply a layer of compost once every three or four years in spring or early fall, when the lawn is in active growth.
Compost may be harder to find than other topdressing (black earth, triple mix, screen topsoil) but it is worth it. Make sure to use mature compost (rich, loose and dark), that is finely textured and doesn’t contain any weeds. Avoid compost with large amounts of topsoil or peat moss, both of which decompose too slowly.

Fertilizing your lawn

A lawn is subject to very difficult growing conditions: for one thing it is constantly mown and trampled. We often tend to expect our lawns to be greener and lusher than the soil can support. In most cases, this means that we need to fertilize.

Many people ask, “How do I fertilize my lawn, all there is out there are chemical applications.” That is not true, where most stores seem to carry only chemical applications there are other ways. Natural fertilizer may be either organic (plant or animal waste) or mineral (crushed stone), but either way it has not been chemically processed. They are out there you may just have to look a little harder. And with all of the new laws coming into place most (if not all) lawn service companies offer organic fertilizer as an option to their programs.

Fertilizing 2-3 times per year is adequate and almost necessary.

But What About The Weeds?

A healthy and well kept lawn, as well as optimum soil conditions, will greatly stifle the spread of weeds. Ground that is too compact, too clayey, too acid or too alkaline supports weed growth, as do lawns mowed too short.

The use of weed killers is generally not the best solution since they do not attack the cause only the visual weeds at the moment (and is not an organic solution). The ideal would rather be to pull the weeds out as soon as they appear, before the lawn is invaded. And then tackle the cause. Such as an overgrown empty lot next door.

I Got Grubs!

The larvae of several beetle species, commonly known as white grubs, are major pests of Canadian lawns. In Ontario the most common white grub species are the European chafer and the Japanese beetle. Injury to lawns occurs from larval munching on the roots, resulting in infested areas first turning yellow, then brown, and finally dying. When grub populations are heavy, areas of turf can be easily lifted from the soil. In addition, moles, raccoons, skunks, birds and other vertebrate animals feed on white grubs. Turf can be heavily damaged by the activities of these animals as they forage for grubs in infested turf. I have seen an entire lawn vanish in a matter of 2 weeks.

So what do you do organically? Well there is an answer…Nematodes.

Nematodes, also known as round worms, are a group of soft-bodied invertebrate worms which inhabit almost all possible locations where life can survive on earth.

Most species of nematodes are small or microscopic, as well as being colourless and transparent. Consequently, most people have never seen nematodes, except for the scientists who study them and the farmers whose crops have been affected by them.

There are certain species of nematodes that are effective against grubs and other larvae by basically eating them. You can contact your local lawn service provider to find out more on how to obtain them or get someone to apply them.

Nematodes are cultured on common sponges that are kept moist. These sponges can be stored for a month in the fridge so long as it is kept moist. Be sure that the nematodes are fresh! Stale, ineffective nematodes smell “fishy”…yummy.

Make sure to irrigate your lawn to 1 inch depth. Nematodes need moist soil to disperse effectively. To apply, simply soak the sponge in a medium sized pail (approx 4.5L) of ROOM TEMPERATURE water for half an hour (30 min) and squeeze the sponge to get all the nematodes into the water. This will be your stock solution, make sure to use within 2 hours or else they will die. You can use something as simple as a watering can, just dilute 1L of stock into 4.5L of water and water onto your lawn. Never apply in direct sunlight, nematodes like cool days, with protection from UV rays….ah ah me too! Apply on a very cloudy day or at dusk.

Well without letting all of our tricks out of the bag there you have it for our take on ‘Organic Lawn Care’. Taking care of your lawn naturally means just that. In some cases it does mean more work, compares to its chemical counterpart, but the results are worth it. We really hope you enjoyed reading this article and you took something away from it.

swstout
07-13-2009, 11:43 PM
[

The Organic products go at this a different way, get the lawn healthy and keep it there, if you do you will not have weed and bug problems, it can be expensive getting it there but it’s easy to maintain.

Like anything, simply try it and determine for yourself, Natures Lawn has over 2,000 customers that rave about it, I only started selling it to clients this year so I only have around 80 to 90 clients to get feed back from, majority of which have used the competition or bought their own products with less than satisfactory results.

One job I have (for my doctor) has produced such obvious results after only 3 treatments that I can only wholeheartedly support the products. without intentional weed control the lawn is almost weed free. and as he says, "it's actually costing me less than my other service, with an obvious improvement".
Steve

mark123
03-05-2010, 01:43 PM
Topdressing

Compost, compost and more compost. You cannot get a better topdressing than compost. Compost is both the best soil amendment and the best fertilizer. ...
RichieM, what do you use to spread compost over a lawn? Is there a recommended rate?

I make my own compost but I would certainly run out after one or two customers. Where do you get compost?

ritchiem
03-05-2010, 05:22 PM
Hey Mark,

I make all my own compost as well...well, there is about 10 companies that contribute to the compost pile. We have a local landscape supply yard screen it for us for $15 per yard.

I apply compost to turf at a 1/2 layer. I use a shovel and wheel barrow to make piles and spread with a landscape rake. I do see now that suppliers are making a pellet for that you can spread with a fert spreader. Gonna try that this spring, very interested to see the results.