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Msteele
12-07-2008, 02:21 AM
As I see it, based on little bit of reading, organic lawn care looks to be a very important part of the forseeable future of commerical lawn care. With that being said I think it is time for me to edecuate myself a bit more on the subject and consider its place in my business model over the next few years. I have a simple question that I think would help me digest infromation If anyone has the time.

If a home sits on a site that was striped of most of its topsoil during the construction process, then sod was layed on the clumpy porly drained clay
soil and the turff was sastuained through chemical application and heavy irrigation what would you do to condition the soil and approximatly how long would it take to condition soil that is mostly clay backfill?

Thanks

Smallaxe
12-07-2008, 09:37 AM
Aerate and topdress with a sandy compost for as much as it is worth. When the lawn is still healing up from the last aeration , add the sandy compost.

Forget the fertilizers until you get enough soil structure for the roots to be deep enough to feed on something more than suface water and ferts. Let the soil dry out adequately b4 the next irrigation cycle. Of course leave the clippings.

phasthound
12-07-2008, 12:14 PM
Compost does a soil good.
I beat ya Kiril! :laugh:

Also add earthworm castings. When you're ready for organic based ferts, let me know. :)

Kiril
12-08-2008, 09:48 AM
Compost does a soil good.
I beat ya Kiril! :laugh:

:laugh: Yes you did.

Msteele
12-16-2008, 10:51 AM
When you say a "sandy compost" I am assuming the sand is to help the compaction that you see in heavy clay soils, this maybe a stupid question but is a sandy compost regular compost with sand added? Also as far as compost goes I would guess its most profitable to make your own compost, however until I can make a good compost in the nessecary volume does anyone have any suggestions on where to buy bulk compost or advice on making it. If it helps I am located in central IN.

Thanks Agian

Msteele
12-16-2008, 11:01 AM
Compost does a soil good.
I beat ya Kiril! :laugh:

Also add earthworm castings. When you're ready for organic based ferts, let me know. :)

I took a quick look at your site and at first glance am impressed Ill give you a call when I have some more time after the holidays. Thanks

Smallaxe
12-16-2008, 05:16 PM
When you say a "sandy compost" I am assuming the sand is to help the compaction that you see in heavy clay soils, this maybe a stupid question but is a sandy compost regular compost with sand added? Also as far as compost goes I would guess its most profitable to make your own compost, however until I can make a good compost in the nessecary volume does anyone have any suggestions on where to buy bulk compost or advice on making it. If it helps I am located in central IN.

Thanks Agian

When I get to a different part of the country my first interest is to, visit the local garden centers. Even if it is a box store you can find someone that is pleasant to chat with. In those locations I have always found bagged compost, made of materials, derived from local farms.

Until you find a good bulk source you can always do the bags. You really do not need the - uniform 1/4 inch covering. [That's a lot] Rather -- Kind of similar to the concept of Terra Preta, the microbes, just need a place to thrive. Any amount of compost is going to be a plus. When dairy farms use sand for 'bedding down' the cows, you end up with a lot more sand than compost.

Yes, it really will be better than compost alone in clay. JMHO. :)

ICT Bill
12-17-2008, 08:19 AM
When you say a "sandy compost" I am assuming the sand is to help the compaction that you see in heavy clay soils, this maybe a stupid question but is a sandy compost regular compost with sand added? Also as far as compost goes I would guess its most profitable to make your own compost, however until I can make a good compost in the nessecary volume does anyone have any suggestions on where to buy bulk compost or advice on making it. If it helps I am located in central IN.

Thanks Agian

Being from the mid west you will probably find many local industries where waste almost runs their business. Arborists, cattle farmers, Milk farmers, horse paddocks, local dump, etc. all of these industries have waste streams that are not part of the business model. meaning you can normally get the waste for cheap or for the cost of hauling it away.

Some folks take it a step farther and compost the waste stream and sell it to companies like yours. If you look around you will find many sources of compost. Just a note, In almost every state that we have spoken to, when someone is selling bulk compost they must have an analysis available for the buyer, meaning the seller has tested the compost for macro/micro nutrients as well as heavy metals. If the company does not have them, run...... to the next composter that does
They are breaking the law, in most cases, if they are selling a soil amendment without an available analysis

There was an incedent on here where a company picked up what looked like great finished horse poop compost, after application the sites started to look like they had been burned by Nitrogen. Indeed they were, the analysis came back at a little over 11% nitrogen, not the sign of a good finished compost.

Finished compost has little to no Nitrogen

He was able to water himself out of the problem but certainly not a profitable job

This brings up an interesting point, a finished compost, properly composted, has plenty of nitrogen in it, just not nitrate or plant available nitrogen. The nitrogen is released over time as the organic matter is broken down and turned into plant available nitrogen.

Yard.Barber
12-17-2008, 11:06 AM
A bit off topic.

If you use organic for lawns, trees etc.. Do you still need a license for this or can I offer it as an option to my lawn care service and be okay??

Tim Wilson
12-17-2008, 11:07 AM
Bill,

When I first glanced at your post my eyes fell on this;

a finished compost, properly composted, has plenty of nitrogen in it,

and I thought 'boy I gotta give Bill a good verbal spanking for that" then I read through the whole post and saw;

Finished compost has little to no Nitrogen

and realized no reprimand is in order.

treegal1
12-17-2008, 12:17 PM
A bit off topic.

If you use organic for lawns, trees etc.. Do you still need a license for this or can I offer it as an option to my lawn care service and be okay??


http://agr.georgia.gov/00/article/0,2086,38902732_0_41469527,00.html

Yard.Barber
12-17-2008, 12:42 PM
Thanks treegal

Msteele
12-17-2008, 07:34 PM
I went to a box store today and checked out the compost. They had 40 lb bags which cover a 10' x 10' area, the label analysis was pretty complete. It looks like a good place to start. However, I am not real clear on what heavy metals I would expect to find in compost, and what effects they would have? Also I have heard of compost containing weed seeds. The way I understand it proper compost gets hot enough to kill weed seeds, but not hot enough to benifical microbes is that true? Thanks for all the helpful infromation.

treegal1
12-17-2008, 07:39 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compost

DUSTYCEDAR
12-17-2008, 10:04 PM
Keep looking around till you find good compost

Smallaxe
12-18-2008, 09:32 AM
I went to a box store today and checked out the compost. They had 40 lb bags which cover a 10' x 10' area, the label analysis was pretty complete. It looks like a good place to start. However, I am not real clear on what heavy metals I would expect to find in compost, and what effects they would have? Also I have heard of compost containing weed seeds. The way I understand it proper compost gets hot enough to kill weed seeds, but not hot enough to benifical microbes is that true? Thanks for all the helpful infromation.

Again, it isn't necessary to put down 10 bags per k. The nice thing about dairy compost is that it is unlikely to have seeds in it. What else might it have because of the diet? Who knows. But if it is still safe to drink the milk (?) it is probably ok to put the compost on the lawn.

I remember when the concern used to be - and perhaps still is - Where does your wood mulch come from? ...and whether you can put it on your root crops in the garden. Lead was outlawed from gasoline back in the 70's but the trees along the road ways have already been breathing it in for several decades by then.

Dchall_San_Antonio
01-01-2009, 01:42 AM
I went to a box store today and checked out the compost. They had 40 lb bags which cover a 10' x 10' area, the label analysis was pretty complete. It looks like a good place to start. However, I am not real clear on what heavy metals I would expect to find in compost, and what effects they would have? Also I have heard of compost containing weed seeds. The way I understand it proper compost gets hot enough to kill weed seeds, but not hot enough to benifical microbes is that true? Thanks for all the helpful infromation.

Compost is the product of what went into it. It should only contain formerly living things like plants, animals (very seldom), or animal waste materials like dung. There should not be any heavy metals unless the compost comes from a municipal waste treatment center.

Finished compost may or may not have completed a hot cycle, but to be certified for the USDA it has to. I believe they require 120 degrees F (or hotter) held for 15 days (minimum) with the pile being turned a minimum of 3 times during the 15-day period. I have heard of compost piles getting to 190 degrees F. All that heat is caused by microbes. Some microbes can stand the heat but many are killed off by that much heat. The 120 degree temp is much friendlier to the microbes. That low temp will cook most weed seeds. When you can't get the temps that high in a pile, from my experience the weed seeds go ahead and germinate. When the weed sprouts are turned back into the pile and they are harmless.

Msteele
01-02-2009, 11:34 PM
Based on what Ive heard and read recently, regarding my question, weed seeds are typically not a problem in properly finished compost. When I asked the question I had recently talked to a gentleman who seemed to be pretty knowledgable on various topics, however thinking back when he refered to compost I think he might have been refering to unprocessed manure.
Anyways with that being said (ill go a little off topic) I was wondering would it ever be apparoipate to apply compost tea as well as compost at or close to the same time? I am assuming, although assuming oftenly gets me in trouble, that on a lager area of turf both would be impractial. Maybe you guys perfer one over the other? Use each in diffrent sitiuations? If anyone cares to elaborate. Thanks for all the great info.

Kiril
01-02-2009, 11:41 PM
If doing both, do both at the same time. If you have to choose between the two, I would go with compost over CT any day of the week. CT does have its uses, but for a complete management program, compost is going to deliver the greatest overall benefit. Be sure you know what your compost is derived from before applying, and ideally get it tested if the supplier doesn't already have a test available.

Dchall_San_Antonio
01-04-2009, 05:19 AM
Knowing your compost is important. By far the worst thing that can happen to compost is to get clopyralid or picloram in it. These broadleaf agricultural herbicides persist though the animal that eats the grass. The manure and compost will remain affected for years. Picloram is still widely used by hay growers. I believe clopyralid has been removed from the market.

You can easily test your compost for picloram. Plant some beans in a pot and wait for them to sprout and grow a second leaf. This takes about a week. Then pour some water into your compost and immediately into the beans. These herbicides are treated to make them extremely water soluble so any moisture releases them. If the beans die within a day or two, then your compost is tainted.

After the herbicide contamination problem, all other compost issues seem tiny. After that what you are looking for is excellent smell. It should smell like a forest floor after a spring rainstorm. If you have that you are on your way.