new to organic lawn care

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by jf69, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. jf69

    jf69 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    I am very interested in the organic way. I want to offer it to my customers. Can anyone give any insight as to what to use for lawn care..i.e. crabgrass control/insect/fungus/weed/spot weed/fertilizer. And what kind of schedule are you using? Any help would be appreciated.
  2. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,162

  3. Cronkshorticulture

    Cronkshorticulture LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    We mow a little shorter than usual before we aerate. Then we dethatch the lawn. Then rake or vacuum the debris up. After you have cleaned up, aerate. Then run the slice seeder behind it. You can also topdress with compost or peat.Be sure to keep the seed moist.These are just basic cultural practices that will help insure any lawns health. Always just go back to the basic cultural practices
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    This is a prime example of psuedo-organic systems, becuz it has no sense of reality that is any different than synthetics.

    Especially the part about removing the natural organic matter from the turf so that other organic material can be brought in.

    That is my most irritating pet-peeve, even in the synfert world :)
  5. Cronkshorticulture

    Cronkshorticulture LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    please explain how removing thatch from the turf to allow water into the soil profile is not an "organic" practice. This allows water to penetrate into the soil profile. If thatch is thicker than an inch it impedes water, nutrients and organic matter from entering the soil profile. Top dressing with an organic material improves drainage, evens out rough terrain, etc. As organic matter breaks down it filters through the existing soil to improve texture and overall health. Im confused with how these are not organic turf practices.
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    This particular aspect of lawn care really goes to the heart of the differences between natural and artificial practices.
    Thatch is a symptom of an artificial practice, rather than being a naturally occuring phenomena in healthy turf.

    Once that problems are detected and corrected it is a simple matter to return the turf to healthy levels of 'thatch' as well. This happens as the decay of dead plant material equals or exceeds its build up.

    This is a basic or fundamental principle, that guides the specific detailed scenario of each lawn, climate, soil and type of grass. Once this principle is firmly in the mind of the professional, the rest comes easy.

    Tell me about your soil, ferts, water practices, and as long as it is 'cool season' grasses I can lay out specific ideas that should turn a hydrophobic thatch layer into a nicely structured soil in less than one season.
    This is one case in which 'organic' practies are way cheaper than conventional... :)
  7. JCResources

    JCResources LawnSite Member
    Messages: 109

    Correct, but what's wrong with mechanically removing it and getting on with life.

    I'd be interested in hearing your methods because I have a property I took over late last season and will be converting it to organic care. Heavy clay soil, irrigated and cared for by synthetic fert company. Pulled a soil sample, have not sent it in yet, will post pics of plugs. Has thatch and poor root penetration.
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    It is not really a set of methods, that we impose upon the grass, but rather enhancing their environment, that they may reach their full potential...

    We know that tilth and soil structure are of primary importance, so that the roots are able to quickly and easily grow into it for food and water.
    We know that root hairs are the extensions that do all the work.
    We know there is an entire entourage of microbrials that do everything from exchanging carbon molecules to gathering specific minerals, as needed, at the tip of every hair.

    A lot of tilth and structure is reliant on the amount of OM as well as, How the OM is added... Imagine:
    If you shrunk down to the size of a bug and walked throught the forest of grass plants as though they were trees; what do you think that forest floor would look like?
    Have you investigated much in the way of forest floors?
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    So, with all those things in mind, the point is, Turn the thatch into SOM(Soil Organic Matter) and let the watering system perfect the habitat of the fungi/bacteria that feeds and waters the grasses.
    It is not strange that the same watering practices that optimize beneficial microbial growth provides excellent moisture/air ratio for the rhizosphere as well...

    You want the thatch to disintegrate at the same time you want the root hairs to recycle that disintegrated material.
    This is the most efficient and mutually beneficial system observed in healthy turf growth as anything else one may expect.

    Hydroponics is very intensive, but fails to produce essential sugars for 'flavor'.
    Herbicides eliminate competition, but not w/out side effects.
    Fertilizers can produce rapid growth , but operate on a feast or famine cycle of artificiality...

    Our best judgement involves,

    *1...augmenting natural soil fertility w/out *2...creating a chemical dependancy... These are 2 very different and opposites systems of soil building.
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Certain METHODS to be observed in cool season grasses might be:

    * to NOT apply N, before the 2nd or 3rd mowing...
    * to NOT irrigate until the surface layer of the turf is sufficiently dry.

    * DO apply various quick acting foods for decomposers w/out encouraging above ground root growth... (or excessive top growth, for that matter)

    * Over the course of the season, add more complex foods to the microherd... i.e., Start with molasses, then do corn meal and try to get soybean meal down by fall, to accomplish the most complete array of microbes possible. (Compost may very well fulfill the entire spectrum, all by itself)... :)

    We must always remember that any given system or "METHOD" is only a general concept and will not apply in a "One Size Fits All" world...

    An interesting point to remember is that, one does not buy into one philosophy or another, in regards, to lawncare and horticultural practices, so that one may be considered "ORGANIC" vs. "SYNTHETIC"...
    Rather one understands the growth of plants, then works to OPTIMIZE the growth habits of the entire Landscape...

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