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Dying lawn-help!

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by greenguy08, Nov 28, 2008.

  1. greenguy08

    greenguy08 LawnSite Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 99

    I graded, amended with compost and org. fert., tilled, and seeded TTTF in September- 3 weeks later all looked great. 3 more weeks,and the entire amended area was very yellowed. The perimeter where less compost was added was beautiful, lush green. Soil test showed pH 7.5, everything in balance except a little high in S. I did not add too much compost or over-fert. !!!! Any ideas? All of my other seeded installs look great. Not sure where to proceed from here.
  2. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636

    So you did a soil test on the yellowed area? Did you test for nitrates? If you did, did you immediately (and completely) dry out the sample after pulling the cores but before sending it to the lab? What was the EC (or TDS?) and what method did they use to find it?

    Also, what compost did you use? What were the test results on it? Was it mature compost, or were there plenty of carbon (wood) sources (chunks) left in it still? How much compost did you use per area?

    What organic fert did you use? What rate of application did you use it at?

    Answer those as best you can and we might be able to help you more...
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    It was probably incomplete compost and now it continues to decompose in the ground which will cause all sorts of problems. Or your organic fertilizers decomposing could cause the same problem.
  4. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    I agree with Smallaxe. At this point you cannot remove the compost. All you can do is continue fertilizing until it turns green. The microbes that decompose fertilizer and unfinished compost live at the surface of the soil, not deeper down. Thus compost and fertilizer go on top.

    Having said that, the more I learn about compost the less benefit I see for for the outrageous cost. Compost is the result of decomposition of leaves, animal dung, kitchen waste, etc. As the microbes decompose the materials (called feedstuffs in the compost industry), more species of microbes come in to decompose the original microbes and their waste products. This cycling of new species continues until there is absolutely no nutrient value left. What is left is essentially peat, the carcasses of the microbes that did not decompose, and two concentrated nitrogen containing materials called humic and fulvic acids. If there was anything of nutritional value left, there would be more species of microbes coming in until everything was gone.

    Grading is all you need to prepare the soil surface and contours. Tilling was your problem. In addition to turning the compost in (which I consider to be a no-no), tilling will eventually lead to uneven settling. I'm pretty sure I learned that from the pros here at Lawnsite.
  5. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636

    Oh snap,....
  6. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Care to explain why?

    Perhaps, if all you do is till and run.
  7. Tim Wilson

    Tim Wilson LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 795

    In my opinion, incomplete compost is a problem these days with instructions all over the place saying that all you need to do is bring the pile to heat and turn until it does not heat anymore and then you are done. I've seen compost full of all kinds of chunks of straw or wood, etc. This type of compost may be good for making compost tea because it will be microbially active but if spread on the ground, it is off course going to continue to degrade, something like mulch. There is a potential to lock up nutrients. I like to see compost without many recognizable items in it. When I harvest my vermicompost, it is mostly fine unrecognizable earthy looking stuff, except for the stones that make their way in.

    I don't know what you can do about your situation in Ohio (?), this time of year but I'd suggest applying some microbial feedstock (as we call it in the industry <grin>) like diluted fish hydrolysate (fungal) and later diluted molasses (bacterial/archaeal).

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