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Soil and Composting: Compost (and corn gluten) for Lawn

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Forum: Soil and CompostingReplies: 8, Views: 74
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speediebean

speediebean
Somewhere in, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 8, 2012
2:22 AM

Post #9034208

Good morning all. I've got a quick question, if you please. Yesterday I got busy on my lawn with a truck FULL of compost that I brought home from work, along with some corn gluten (for preemergent use). I spread the corn gluten first, then spread/shoveled out the compost and gently (with the back of the garden rake) spread it out really thin. Watered gently. Does this sound about right to y'all? (and yes, I understand that I've put the cart before the horse here... tsk tsk, shame on me!). I really want to get a decent lawn for a change, but HATE having to put down a ton of chemicals (ie: lawn fertilizers all fall long). I'd read somewhere that, if ya just feed the lawn's soil with compost, early spring and fall, and use corn gluten in EARLY spring, clean up excess thatch as necessary (which is not necessary in my lawn, btw), mow HIGH (which I do), and allow the grass clippings to fall where they may, it should be a tremendous help. Am I missing anything? My soil is NOT compacted, it's just recently been entirely re-done... excavated and evened out), so I'm not worried too much about aerating at the moment. So, thoughts on my plan? Do any of you use compost on your lawn? Or corn gluten?

Thanks all!

Susan
=)

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 8, 2012
6:35 PM

Post #9035188

I take you are not reseeding, or starting from scratch, just top-dressing an existing lawn so it grows better?

I don't know about corn gluten, just herad that some people use it to suppress the weeds as you suggest.

My only idea is that, if you can bring compost home from work, keep doing that!

Since you said that that you spread it out thinly and mow high, clearly you aren't burying the grass and denying it light. As long as you do that, I would say "the more compost, the better! Especially once the grass starts growing, you can add compost to ... I don't know ... half the height of the blades? Maybe 1-2 waterings before mowing would keep it from blowing around?

It will break down and perk into the soil gradually, feeding the worms and other soil life. Hopefully, worms etc will carry the organic matter deeper into the soil, since it was loose to start with.

What kind of compost did you get? (I'm envious.)

speediebean

speediebean
Somewhere in, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 9, 2012
3:50 AM

Post #9035416

Good morning Rick, and thank you, I feel better now! =) I'm sorry, I should have said that I was simply top-dressing an existing lawn, and not re-seeding. I do my re-seeding in the Fall, but I just wanted to give it a little "feeding" now, something that wouldn't interfere with weed suppression.

I've dug and poked around in the soil here and there, and the worms sure do seem to like my yard, so I want to make it as hospitable a home for them as I can!

The compost I get at work is what we call "Leafgro", basically just composted leaves, twigs, and grass clippings. I work at a nursery/garden center where we sell bulk products too, so getting mulch and compost etc is really convenient, not to mention cost-effective with my discount! =) I must say though, I work HARD for my treats! Lugging around those 50-pound bags of mulch and rocks ain't easy for a nearly-50 year old short little Lady! < =)

This will be the first year ever that I don't use the collection bag on my mower, but instead allow the grass clippings to remain, so I'm hoping that will do some good as well.

I can't thank you enough for your reply, I really do feel MUCH better knowing that I'm doing something right. I really want to give DH a nice lawn! =)

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 9, 2012
1:39 PM

Post #9036064

I'm really envious ... except about hauling 50-pound bags! yes, if worms are already living there, laying the compost on top of the soil is great: it will come down to them with rain, and they will come up for it like candy.

BTW, if you want to lure worms to a new bed or an un happy patch of lawn, try coffee grounds. I finally found some Starbuvcks that save them for gardeners. Seemingly worms are coffee addicts!

P.S. If you bring a bucket or sturdy plastic bag to Starbucks or a 7-11, the barristas may give you the entire big bag of grounds (like 20-30 pounds in one bag). It saves them from shoveling them out into the small five-pound bags.

When I had a lawn of my own, I always let the clippings lie, but where it grew fast, the clippings could be too dense in spots. As I recall, that was only over the septic system leach field.

Sometimes I would swish the clippings around with a bamboo rake, just so they were not too dense in any one spot. Or re-mpw the clippings and encourage the lawnmower to throw as far as possible.

Or, pick up a wheelbarrow or two of clippings from where they were densest and either "share" them onto sparse spots in the lawn, or add to a brown compost heap where they added a lot of needed green.

Hmm, your soil is loose and you have fertilized, and you've started adding compost. If your lawn isn't already great, I wonder what else could be needed? I guess it could take many applications of compost to replace organic matter lost over many years.

Have you checked pH? Everywhere I lived, we had acid soil and acid rain, so adding lime every 2nd or 3rd year was a given. Then I was shocked to learn that some people had BASIC soil! (Or too mjuch Calcium.)

(Easier than a pH check is "lawn writing". Buy or borrow a small smount of lime and apply it with a hand-spreader or flour sifter. Spell out "L I M E" in letters as big as will fit on your lawn. If you see the word "LIME" in dark green next summer, you need more lime. Or just spread a narrow swatch or square somewhere conspicuous.)

How about drainage? Ever have soggy patches that drain slowly after a rain - or even standing water? I had a dip, once, where water accumulated and even weeds were scraggly.

The only other thing I can think of is allowing leaves to lay on the grass too long in Fall. After sun deprivation, the lawn needs a tanning salon, which isn't very practical.

speediebean

speediebean
Somewhere in, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 9, 2012
2:10 PM

Post #9036103

Aaww heck, are you sure you wouldn't have fun hauling those heavy bags around too? =) It's not bad really... at least not for me. People (mostly men) see this little old lady hauling bags into their truck and it guilts 'em into helping me!! < =D

Ooooooh, we JUST got a new Dunkin' Donuts built in town, I guess this means I'll have to make it a regular stop for me now. >>aaaw shucks!>> I hope no one has hit 'em up yet for their coffee grounds, but I really should give 'em a try, thank you for that idea. :)

Believe me, my lawn really needs help! This is just the second season that I'm really serious about making it a true "lawn" (started last Fall), so it's barely beginning to look better, however, just the compost that I put down with the re-seeding last Fall has made a big difference already. Ya know, though, I haven't checked the pH out front, though I have in the back. Shame on me! I've got lime, and access to more, so should it need it that won't be a problem.. but you're right, I need to check it. OK, I'll get on that this weekend. I'd rather do that than have a big conspicuous LIME right across the lawn! LOL!! Maybe I could lime in a big =) in the middle of the yard?

Thankfully we don't have soggy drainage issues. We live on a corner lot that is downward in 2 directions, if you can picture that. Away from the house toward the front AND toward one side. No sloppy puddling issues, thank God!

I promise, I'll get that pH checked this weekend... and I'll be sure to dig down deep enough past the new compost. =)

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 9, 2012
8:54 PM

Post #9036469

Nice, you have loosenable soil, access to compost AND a pH kit! Envy, envy.

It's pretty generous, letting guys help lift the bags. That's probably the manliest they've felt all week.

Maybe bring some cherry tomatoes or cut flowers to Dunkin Donuts in season ... then they'll tell everyone else "we have no coffee grounds!"



speediebean

speediebean
Somewhere in, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 10, 2012
5:49 AM

Post #9036651

DUDE, that's an excellent idea, thank you!! And here I was thinking baking cookies or bread or muffins... ya know, woman-y stuff. =D T'maters is an excellent idea!! =)

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 10, 2012
2:38 PM

Post #9037201

Thank you!

Something about cherry tomatoes makes them as addictive as pistachios.

I once gave some Sungold to some people about to move in, and they were like Good Little Dieters, "we'll save these for salad with dinner!"

Later they admitted that the cherry toms never survived the drive back home.

Nutritious candy!

P.S. I don;t know why, but it seems that having 2-3 colors of cherry toms in a bowl makes them even MORE candy-like. This year I'm going to try "Ildi" (early yellow grape toms), and some "pot-sized" determinate red cherry starting with "M". Plus Sungold - always Sungold. And I've only grown tomatoes one year, but I already think "always Sungold". The only F1 I would grow.

speediebean

speediebean
Somewhere in, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 11, 2012
6:37 AM

Post #9037797

I have been contemplating growing cherry tomatoes this year, but I've also been thinking about some sort of grape ones. I think I'm going to "have" to go for an indeterminate grape tomato plant... of some sort. =) For those ones though, I'll end up getting a starter plant (from work), 'cause we're only carrying 3 types of tomato seeds this year, so far... that I can recall. ;)

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