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What is your process?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by DeepGreenLawn, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    OK, I have an issue, the drought is back, never went away but we had some relief, and I need to make a strategic move soon. Plus I am just curious as I am trying to figure out my program for my organic customers.

    99% of my customers are lawns that have been cared for by traditional chems for years. The customers have come to expect a certain reaction, as have I, with each treatment but that is a different story.

    Treegal, I am particularly interested in your point of view.

    You get an established lawn that has been pounded with chems. It is OK, but not great, you can tell it is beginning to take its toll. They want organics. What is your first few steps?

    Organic ferts with CT?

    Immediate compost topdress with CT?

    I am not sure, I personally have been pounding it with an organic fert and ICT trying to rebuild the good guys. But it is taking its time. I have added a little Fe to help with the customers request for the GREEN lawn.

    What are your thoughts?

    And no, I cannot tear it up and start over again, these are sodded lawns and no one is going to pay the money for that.
  2. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    hold the tiller, no tare out yet!!!!

    this will draw in some lurkers for sure,LOLOL

    start up yard, 2 kinds of yards

    yard 1) no inputs, sand hole with weeds and no sprinklers!
    core aerate or PHD/ vertical composting, top dress, Ctea, wetting agent(real heavy) NO TEST!!!! yada yada yada what no test. this is my way.....just listen!

    yard 2) heavy inputs, the chem type with a N addiction!!!
    this one gets a test first!!! then you lay on the tea to bioremediate the @$#%&%^*&&* that the idiots put down. most of the time they will coast on the N that's in the ground for a month or 2 (that's when ya get you post in order)after the tests back then ya hit it with the OM (compost) and more tea aerate and(over seed??) fertilize(product or compost) and add what you feel is needed inputs.

    all yards!!!!

    proper mowing height, don't ask me I will tell ya 4 inches or 5!
    WASH YOUR DECKS! a clean mower lasts longer to!
    post a sign to let everyone know how to care(not to add chems) for the yard( for info callXXX-XXX-XXXX)
    inform the customer, do this in writing so they can read it a lot!!! tell them about what you do!!
    start and quarterly pics, you will thank me later. see i told ya so is a favorite quote for most pics.LOLOL

    the compost is the key!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  3. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    yard 1: you would overseed down there correct? here I would let the old grass, what was left, come back through? or would the topdress require me to resod? I guess it wouldnt be that deep. You hand pull the weeds correct?

    Yard 2: I just cut this yard today, I haven't gotten them as a customer yet but it was already full of weeds again. I wander if they charge extra for grassy weeds like the other guy? I have not seen a yard grow like this in A LONG time. Even my traditional yards don't come close to this amount of growth in weeks! That is another post, I guess for another thread(?)

    All yards: OK, I am screwed. You see, up here we are under a watering ban. My county just raised so we can water on certain days with our sprinklers. The other counties are still under a ban where they can only HAND water after each treatment. I am looking more and more into this trying to find that ONE person that will say we can use the sprinklers to water in a treatment. Pass the buck right? No longer my fault, he/she said so. I guess I need to record my calls or get things in writing...

    I went to my first organic only lawn today again... I kind of cheated a little though, she had some dreaded goose grass in a corner and I sprayed! Oh man, I am so ashamed... that stuff is such a pain though! But hey, this is like a 12K sq ft lawn and for just a little batch of goosegrass in a corner is not bad for no pre-m's/chems, until now... Looking good though, I just wish the customer would get a new mower, if they had a good mower that thing would look GREAT!
  4. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    this is the standards we keep for compost.
    Test Parameter Range
    pH 6.8-7.3
    Soluble Salts 0.35-0.64 dS/m (mmhos/cm)
    (1:5 v/v method)

    Nitrogen 1.0-2.0%
    Phosphorus 0.6-0.9%
    Potassium 0.2-0.5%
    Moisture Content 45-50%
    Organic Matter 35-45%
    Particle Size passes 3/8" screen
    Bulk Density 900-1,000 lbs/yd3
  5. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    you make your compost to meet these requirements? How do you get it to these measurements? Add certain items?

    Particle Size passes 3/8" screen

    I wish I had a screen, I can't find anything without big wood chips in it.
  6. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    yes we make the post test out that good!!!naturaly!!!

    we only grow grass from runners now.

    the out of hand growth = fert input overages = law broken???

    eh so ya cheated a little, say your sorry to the worms and go on trying to do it better. next time bring your torch and shovel( ever notice that ground that gets dug grows grass better??)
  7. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    if ya cant get a screen and ya need one that bad i will loan ya mine or build ya one.

    ask around up there find a goot tinkerer we have plans for a large and a small
  8. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    how to get the N up in compost, chicken$h*t, or lake weeds:laugh:
  9. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636


    From what I understand...

    Compost topdress it the FIRST thing you should do. (after core aeration and overseeding :hammerhead:).

    The point of CT's are to restore microbes to the soil so that they can work to re-establish the balance in the soil.

    Generally, the point of fertilizers (organic or not) is to make a LOT of 'almost ready' nutrients available to the microbes to finish preparing for plant absorption.

    Applying these (fert and CT) and these only could actually be working against the natural balance you are trying to establish.

    The fertilizer is readily available to only select microbes in your CT. These microbes will feed on the abundance of this fertilizer and explode in numbers. They will also make that fertilizer readily available to the plant over a relatively short period of time.

    Then your fertilizer is quickly eaten up by this mass number of certain microbes and nothing is left. The microbes then go dormant and/or die.

    In the end you have not really come closer to the organic goal.


    Now throw compost into the equation.

    You introduce compost, overseed, and spray with a CT...

    The compost acts as your organic fertilizer as it contains (holding to TreeGals specifications...) 2 - .6 - .9

    The compost also contains anywhere from 1-50% humus which will help to aggregate the soil which not only lets water be held in the soil by capillary action (the only type of water in the soil that is available to plants). The humus is also a fertilizer for the plants as Mycorrhizae work to break it down and give it to the plant. The humus might also create an appropriate environment for the microbes in your CT to thrive instead of just die.

    The compost ALSO contains the microbes in your CT and therefore relates to the 're-intorduction' of microbes directly.

    The compost also contains (Treegal again) 35-40% organic matter. This is your 'time release' part of your 'compost fertilizer'. The microbes both in your compost and your CT will continue to work on the OM and make it available to the plant over time. (remember you want to reach the natural balance)

    Now for your CT. The CT helps to restore microbes to the soil that may be lost. The microbes may be lost (killed off) for different reasons. Erosion/tilling, drought, salt?, lack of available nutrients, attack from other microbes...

    Bills 123 which you have been using as your CT also contains fertilizer products. It's rating is... 2 - 0? - 2 & .1%Fe. At the application rate though, there really isn't enough for you to consider it fertilizer. (the iron is a good bonus but still pretty low)

    They named that part of their 123 the 'accelerator' because its purpose is to cause the spike in microorganisms that I mentioned earlier. If I understand right he does this so in the first little while, the microbes have a chance (by sheer numbers) to leech into the appropriate parts of the soil and move into their new real estate.

    Remember though, if there are no 'homes' for them to move into (organic matter, appropriate soil structure, and water) they will die in the desert and your application will have been in vain. You will still be doing the same thing as the chemical guys but are just using a different source to do so.


    Another point I just thought of that might help people switch to more organic thinking is calculating how much N-P-K per 1,000 you are actually putting down with the compost. I know I had a tendency to look at the NPK numbers of compost and think that they were significantly lower than organic or chemical fertilizer. But then I remembered application rates MUST apply... Let me show you...

    A chemical application of Lesco professional turf fertilizer (32-3-8) will give you per 1,000 square feet of grass...
    -1 lb Nitrogen
    -.09 lb phosphorus
    -.25 lb potassium

    A 1/4" application of Nature professional turf fertilizer (2-.9-.5) will give you per 1,00 square feet of grass... (check end of post for calculation methood)
    -13.86 lb Nitrogen
    -6.24 lb phosphorus
    -3.47 lb potassium

    So which is better...

    1 or 13.86
    .09 or 6.24
    .25 or 3.47
    Fert or Compost

    You can apply at higher concentration numbers because the compost will release the nutrients in a BALANCED way. Make sense?

    Calculation method...
    Applying .25 inches of compost over 1,000 square feet requires .77 of a cubic yard of compost.

    One cubic yard of compost (per Treegals spec) = 900 lbs.

    Hence you are delivering 693 lbs of product per 1,000 with the compost and 3.1 pounds of product with the fertilizer... a big difference.

    Potential for error...
    I assumed that Tree's specifications of NPK (2-.9-.5) were a measure of wet weight. If they are a measure of dry weight compost the numbers will have to recalculated. Tree, if they are drywieght, do you have the weight per dry Yd3?
  10. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    50% moisture = 900 lbs/cyd, also that's available N the total is a lot higher 6%?? i don't really know, sorry i can find out?? and the herd whats there N content???? organics has hidden N around every turn

    and we usually just take 2 tons per run on a trailer, shite for every one, every time. just a little at a time adds up fast.

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