new to organic lawn care

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

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    You raise an interesting question...
    Are these various plugs from different parts of the lawn? OR One or two long plugs that were broken up before they could be photographed?

    I'd assumed that they were gathered from different spots by a 2 pronged manual aerator tool...

    Image no. 4, from the top, OR no. 1 in the 2nd row is very familiar to me. I could recognize that in a B&W photo, as long as I knew it was soil. It almost like a plastic cylinder that has been weather-checked for several years, doesn't it? These clay shots are super-smooth...

    Anyways, assuming that no. 2, in the first row, is about 1.5 or 2inches long, we could be looking at about 3/4 in. layer of brown thatch atop that plug... at least that is what I see... I agree, I don't see any signs of living thatch either, (and wouldn't expect to in fescue)...
    More pix on the way, sounds great to me...

    Imagine how it feels, to be getting busy now, and having thawed soil that can be plugged... Even if our mild 10 day forecast holds true, I've probably 3 weeks to wait, and that's being optomistic... :)
  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    Thatch ..... yes or no?

  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Here, the use of Phasthound's idea of having a ruler would help, but let's take a stab at it with the assumtion that our depth is 6"-8"...

    This photo makes me think that we are dealing with a heavy soil, in which water management was very well done... Notice the 'cumbly' nature of the top few inches of the root zone... Too much, or too little water done regularily, would not look that way... IMO...

    I believe Kiril has seen the Illinios Ext. Office photo that I've referenced many times before... and I believe that everyone who has observed the photo recognizes that it was of "Living Thatch", by their definition...

    This kind of thatch has living roots and stems growing in the dark colored layer, that sits above the soil level... The reason that cool-season grasses grow this way is because there is always plenty of N and H2O, sitting on the surface of the grass...

    From what I can observe from the photo, is the blackened area directly below the green of the grass may possibly be , what I call, "living Thatch"... A closeup of the darkened bases of the grass plants, would give a better idea of what we are actually looking at...

    On a side note: This type of Living Thatch often becomes a problem when the growth of roots and stems, tangled tightly at the surface, becomes hydrophobic... Obviously this turf has a nice root system and good soil structure, for quite a way down into the profile... therefore I would say that hydrophobia is not an issue here... :)
  4. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    What you might think is thatch at first glance is not. The clod is ~ 8-10" deep, rooting extends well beyond that despite the compaction. Further, the area that is clearly well aggregated is a result of topsoil additions (sandy loam), core aeration (3-4 times over ~10-12 years) with annual overseed & compost topdress. This is a good example of how ineffective core aeration is at dealing with deep compaction, and why people should address these issues before planting out.

    This particular area of the site is an irrigation nightmare in it's current state. This soil is prone to becoming quickly "swampy" as a result of the compacted layer, however I have never personally seen standing water in this area despite the compaction. Allowing the soil to dry too much results in browning out in the summer despite other areas on the same site (and in same area) not browning.

    Just an FYI, just because something exhibits hydrophobic properties when dry does not mean it stays that way when wetted (ex. thatch).

  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    A good close up of the roots really show a nice open growth pattern w/out any tightly woven roots and stems at all. That black stuff is compost then?
    Hmmm, Now your latest picture disappeared, Hmmm...

    I believe you about it turning 'swampy' quick, but I wonder what the deal is with the browning out, in some spots, during the summer... One would expect from those pictures that roots 10" deep into a clay soil that would never dry out at that depth, could withstand almost any kind of drought...

    Do you soak the turf enough to keep the compaction zone moist all summer? or does that block dry out down there, sometimes?
    Have you had any preliminary thoughts as to what might be going on? that would cause spotty brownout?

    I agree with your analysis about hydrophobic material not holding water, completely, all the time but, we've got some thatch lawns that can hold puddles for a long time... :)

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