PDA

View Full Version : Simple question - no fertilizer?


Dooger54
08-12-2008, 09:42 AM
If I start applying compost to the lawn, will that mean I can quit using spring and fall fertilizer altogether? Newbie to this organic idea!

ICT Bill
08-12-2008, 10:45 AM
The basic idea is correct but there is a little more to it, you have to support the beneficial microorganisms that are in the compost. What you are trying to do is get nutrient cycling going in th soil. Once this starts you will have minimal inputs

Pick up a book called Teaming with microbes by Jeff Lowenfels, it will show you how to get nutrient cycling going in the soil

treegal1
08-12-2008, 01:54 PM
54, many cultures through out history have subsisted and existed with only compost and natural materials, we can do this also!!! would you like to take your question further!!!we have totally eliminated our use of fert, its almost totally compost!

Dooger54
08-12-2008, 02:21 PM
Treegal1-

Love to take this further - I'm an information junkie! I have a lawn which totals between 2.5 and 3 acres. See my post yesterday in the Maintenance & Renovation forum about what I am doing. Titled "Help deciding on equipment to buy". Somewhat lengthy.

Spreading compost on my lawn at 1/4" would take about 86 yards of compost. I can purchase and have it delivered to my site for about $1000. I understand this is something I should do annually, at least for a number of years. I'm just trying to justify the cost of doing this every year. I have not been fertilizing all this up to now because of the quantity of fertilizer it would take.

In addition, looks like I will spend about $2700-3300 on a machine to do the topdressing. Is it worth it??

As an aside, I try to be "green" in all my practices. I have 2 5000 gallon cistern tanks on my property that catch water from our buildings. I use this water for all of our outside water needs.

treegal1
08-12-2008, 02:58 PM
a top dres machine of any type or style(if it works) is a powerful investment! I have one that is worth its weight in gold x10!!! we also bo a lot of hand spreading. 1000 $ for compost??? is that waste made compost?? 80 yards is going to get you half way,:laugh:LOLOL. why is ot so expensive??? is there a horse farm or dump around, even some nasty mushroom compost???fertilizer is going to cost about the same or more than the compost and only give you a quick fix, compost is a long term fix!!

treegal1
08-12-2008, 03:11 PM
54 your tractor is a spreader with the correct attachment?? maybe a cone spreader???

Dooger54
08-12-2008, 03:42 PM
I am getting the compost from a local university farm that produces it on site. Good stuff and only $15 per ton, which is very inexpensive around here. It will also cost almost that much per ton for trucking, about $100 per load of 18 yards, 8 tons. I will need about 5 loads.

My tractor will pull an Earth and Turf topdresser machine. That is how I will apply the compost. Another option is to use the box blade on my tractor to spread it, but that would be much more difficult when you're only spreading about 1/4" at a time. I will be aerating and overseeding the lawn also.

treegal1
08-12-2008, 04:11 PM
I am getting the compost from a local university farm that produces it on site. Good stuff and only $15 per ton, which is very inexpensive around here. It will also cost almost that much per ton for trucking, about $100 per load of 18 yards, 8 tons. I will need about 5 loads.

My tractor will pull an Earth and Turf topdresser machine. That is how I will apply the compost. Another option is to use the box blade on my tractor to spread it, but that would be much more difficult when you're only spreading about 1/4" at a time. I will be aerating and overseeding the lawn also.:clapping::clapping::clapping:you got this figured out pretty well, maybe Kiril will jump in here and post a paper with the virtues of compost top dress and/or how it will be more beneficial than fertilizer.

Dooger54
08-12-2008, 04:23 PM
Love to see that.

phasthound
08-12-2008, 04:39 PM
If I start applying compost to the lawn, will that mean I can quit using spring and fall fertilizer altogether? Newbie to this organic idea!

Mike McGrath, formally of organic gardening magazine now of NPR you bet your garden, says 1" compost in fall & corn gluten in the spring is all you need for a wonderful lawn.

treegal1
08-12-2008, 04:44 PM
If i put one inch of compost on any lawn that is existing I would probably be sued and or killed.LOL

ICT Bill
08-12-2008, 06:35 PM
Plus TG, I know what a clean freak you are too, people would be tracking compost into the shop :nono: :laugh::laugh:

phasthound
08-12-2008, 07:06 PM
If i put one inch of compost on any lawn that is existing I would probably be sued and or killed.LOL

Well, I didn't say I agreed with him. :)

Dooger54
08-12-2008, 11:59 PM
Whats the corn gluten do? And where do you get something like that?

I've been told that 1/4" at a time is all you want to do with compost. Any more than that and you risk "drowning" your grass.

My intention is to apply the compost every year for years to come until I get the soil where it needs to be.

treegal1
08-13-2008, 12:07 AM
CMG is a growth regulator...........for weeds?

the compost thing at 1/4??? here take a look at this, my compost apps are about 5-8 times a year with maybe 1/16 or less???

here's why take a look!!!
http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=240273

Dooger54
08-13-2008, 09:27 AM
Appreciate the info. After reading through that post, seems like part of the problem was the quality of the compost and the way is was applied. I read a number of articles on applying compost to turf and they ranged from applying 1/8" to 1" at a time.

Anyone else want to chime in on application rates and timing??

phasthound
08-13-2008, 10:03 AM
For the lowdown on corn gluten go to http://www.hort.iastate.edu/gluten/?
Dr. Christians is the man who patented it

Dooger54
08-13-2008, 10:33 AM
Found that. Wonder what the chance is of finding a local feed mill where I can buy this in quantities. At the recommended rate of 20# per 1000 sqft, would take over 800# per acre. Sounds like that could get kind of expensive.

NattyLawn
08-13-2008, 10:59 AM
Found that. Wonder what the chance is of finding a local feed mill where I can buy this in quantities. At the recommended rate of 20# per 1000 sqft, would take over 800# per acre. Sounds like that could get kind of expensive.


If you go the feed mill route, ask and make sure you're getting 60% protein CGM. I don't remember the info off the top of my head, but anything less than 60% and you might not be getting the herbicidal qualities out of the meal.

Dooger54
08-13-2008, 11:23 AM
I just stopped at the local feed mill, they are going to get me pricing on CGM in 50# bags. I will check on the protein content. Anyone know what I might expect for costs per #? I'm thinking maybe .10 or so.

jeffinsgf
08-13-2008, 11:33 AM
The application quantity depends on the nutrient value of the compost, the condition of your lawn, and the depth of your wallet. With yard waste compost (which I believe is what you have sourced) it is nearly impossible to burn a lawn. Compost that includes manures or sewage sludge should be used very conservatively, in multiple light applications.

Corn gluten meal and it's pre-emergent benefits have received a lot of press, but Iowa State is trying to finance the entire university off the royalties. It is nearly impossible to find the right stuff unlabeled, and if you find it labeled, it costs a small fortune to do a large property, primarily because of the royalties that have to be paid to ISU. As TreeGal has pointed out a few times, as a societal issue, it is sort of ridiculous to grow corn so that you can grow grass. The way corn prices are going now, I can't imagine what CGM will be selling for this fall. If you're truly trying to have a lawn that has a lower negative impact on the environment, use only products that would otherwise be headed for the landfill.

Dooger, you've pointed yourself in the right direction, but I think you're finding that having a superb lawn on a large property can get pricey in a hurry. I'll repeat my advice to scale back the yard and scale up the native planting. Three acres of turf is going to border on boring and keeping it nice is going to be an expensive proposition.

Kiril
08-13-2008, 11:38 AM
For me and the soils in my region, compost application when over-seeding in fall, and perhaps in mid spring if I think the soil needs more OM.

Kiril
08-13-2008, 11:40 AM
Dooger, you've pointed yourself in the right direction, but I think you're finding that having a superb lawn on a large property can get pricey in a hurry. I'll repeat my advice to scale back the yard and scale up the native planting. Three acres of turf is going to border on boring and keeping it nice is going to be an expensive proposition.

:cry: It is a beautiful thing to behold ........

Dooger54
08-13-2008, 01:11 PM
Dooger, you've pointed yourself in the right direction, but I think you're finding that having a superb lawn on a large property can get pricey in a hurry. I'll repeat my advice to scale back the yard and scale up the native planting. Three acres of turf is going to border on boring and keeping it nice is going to be an expensive proposition.

Yea, I hear you. Right now my native planting area is about 2 acres. I've tried to keep the turf area to a minimum, but my wifes loves the look of grass. She does the mowing too!

About all I can reduce the turf to is maybe 2 -2.5 acres. I'm limited because of trees, perennial planting beds and such than run through the property.

BTW, I'm going to make a personal visit to the "farm" where I want to get the compost. It is an operation run by the Ag Dept of Ill. State University. I'm going to ask for a analysis of their compost, I assume they've had it tested. I'll find out. Good news is they are willing to drop the $20 ton price to $15 if I buy 50 tons or more.

jeffinsgf
08-13-2008, 01:56 PM
...About all I can reduce the turf to is maybe 2 -2.5 acres. I'm limited because of trees, perennial planting beds and such than run through the property.

2 is better than 3. How close are you to St. Louis? Take your wife to the natives section of MO Botanical Gardens. She'll jump on the bandwagon.

BTW, I'm going to make a personal visit to the "farm" where I want to get the compost. It is an operation run by the Ag Dept of Ill. State University. I'm going to ask for a analysis of their compost, I assume they've had it tested. I'll find out. Good news is they are willing to drop the $20 ton price to $15 if I buy 50 tons or more.

Depending on moisture content, that sounds like a very attractive price. I pay 15 a yard and I think a yard of our stuff weighs around 800 pounds, so you're getting yours for less than half what I'm paying in Springfield -- unless the moisture content is way higher.

Smallaxe
08-14-2008, 09:41 AM
Found that. Wonder what the chance is of finding a local feed mill where I can buy this in quantities. At the recommended rate of 20# per 1000 sqft, would take over 800# per acre. Sounds like that could get kind of expensive.

B4 spending all that money on Pre-m, you may want to consider the effectiveness of cgm. It is considered to afford 80% control after 2 yrs of application.

Another consideration is - what will it do to your overseeding capabilities?

treegal1
08-14-2008, 09:50 AM
B4 spending all that money on Pre-m, you may want to consider the effectiveness of cgm. It is considered to afford 80% control after 2 yrs of application.

Another consideration is - what will it do to your overseeding capabilities?my thing is why not kill all the weeds and get the seed down to take over the lawn, just out compete the weeds. I dont know, seed is not my thing, but it seems that a seed growth inhibitor is counter productive in a seed grown lawn. $0.02

Dooger54
08-14-2008, 01:31 PM
My understanding is that bluegrass (what we have) spreads by rhizomes, not by seed. So any type of program involving "seed inhibitors" should not affect that.

As far as overseeding, that could be a problem. I know most applicators apply the pre-emergent in the spring, and overseed in the fall. Residual is gone by then and seed growth is fine. I don't know about CGM, maybe that will have too much residual?? Hopefully someone knows.

cudaclan
08-14-2008, 11:43 PM
CGM is a byproduct from various separation processes. Though seldom done, fish (whole) are not the intent primary for fish emulsion. It is the byproduct. Growing corn for fuel is another touchy subject. The success to a dense lawn is the ability of the grass to out-compete against weeds. A weed free lawn tends to stay that way with minimal intervention (after establishment). Of course, a minimal grass lawn is the ideal situation. I prefer (non-invasive) ornamental grass to offset the conventional. Results will take two years to make an impact. Once established, said and done.

Smallaxe
08-15-2008, 09:17 AM
TG, are you saying that overseeding isn't done much in your area?

Overseeding is pretty important around here. This year a couple of irrigated clients who still use Chemlawn had serious burnback from an NPK app in the summer sun.
Next week we plug, overseed, and topdress.

Heavily shaded lawns also need to be thickened up on a regular basis, along with non-irrigated lawns.

If I was building up a residual of organic pre-m in the soil, that would peak in 2 years - I believe my ability to repair lawns would be diminished greatly. $0.02

treegal1
08-15-2008, 09:31 AM
the only seed that get used here is in drain ways and swales, lawns are your weeds and a grown with runners or sod. I am one of the few in my area that has diversified into some seed over the years, just to be lazy and not tote 30 tons of sod for a drain that will never be seen or cared for. thats the only time we use seed. it goes like this; add seed to hydro seederwater it and add some"additives to speed if getting started, then prep the area, spray the next day, water like MAD, pray for rain and then go water it again. and thats winter...... on a res lawn its 3.5 tons of sod to every 550 feet, so one K is 7 tons and 8 man hours to lay, no prep time in that.