I've discontinued the spraying service for my lawn, was going to weed & feed myself, but convinced DH we should go organic. so now I'm faced with trying to decide what products to go with. any suggestions would be appreciated. the lawns not in bad shape because we had a spray program up until last fall, but the chemicals have got to go. where do I start?
You might want to look into http://www.gardensalive.com. They have a pretty clear lawn care program. Generally it's good to mulch the cut grass back into the lawn, put down pre-emergent herbicide (corn gluten) down, and fertilize with compost, compost tea, etc. Overseed in the fall.
I do none of these, however. But then, my yard is about 50% clover, 30% dandelion, and 20% quack grass. :)
thanks, Zeppy. I do get their catalog and I have been looking at it. I'm trying to eliminate as much grass as I can in favor of gardens anyway. Hey, clover, dandelions & quack grass are green, aren't they?
Jan, I should add that you should certainly look at Gardens Alive on Garden Watchdog here, because there are a lot of complaints. All the complaints I saw had to do with customer service -- I believe I've only heard good things about the actual products -- but customer service is important!http://davesgarden.com/gwd/c/146/
We put down corn gluten in the early spring, around 4th of July, and in fall about 6 weeks after overseeding. We also use a mulching mower and get the lawn core aerated, overseed and fertilize with an organic fertilizer in the fall. I like Bradfield Organics for corn gluten and fertilizer. They are sold at a local garden center so it's easy for us to get and cheaper than some of the other organic products. For corn gluten, you have to really time it correctly, which is something we're still trying to get just right, so try researching the subject at your local university extension.
Since you've had a lawn service up until now, the biggest hurdle will probably be getting used to not having a bright green and pristine lawn. Your lawn is now basically on steroids and when you go back to a nonchemical lawn, you may be a bit disapointed. But your lawn and soil will actually be healthier and will require less work from you in the long run.
Your lawn will probably go through a "withdrawal" phase where it will look bad and you'll be tempted to call up the lawn service again...resist that urge and be patient and it'll look good again and be much healthier in the long run.
Actually, the lawn hasn't been looking that good WITH the service. I've been looking at some organic products online and the price is just about doubled with shipping. so I'm going to have to see what I can find locally. My DH was looking at Dr Earth products, but they are not available in this area.
Many, many years ago my Dad bought the book "The Impatient Gardener" by Jerry Baker. There are quite a few "tonics" in the book. My Dad tried one in a small section of the back yard. He figured if it didn't work and killed everything, he'd only have a small section to repair. Well us kids thouht that Dad had sodded that little area because it was so lush. The tonic consisted of some pretty weird things like dish detergent, Listerine mouthwash, Epsom salts to name a few. Us kids kept borrowing the book from him and we all tried the conconctions on our lawns and gardens. It definitely does work. Dad was so sick and tired of never finding the book because one of us had borrowed it, he bought each of us (6 kids) our very own copies for Christmas.
My DH and I are trying to cut down on as much lawn as possible and put in garden beds instead. I much prefer the flowers and vegetables. I could care less what the lawn looks like. We have pretty much let the lawn go to clover (it looks really good when the lawn is cut). We're even considering getting clover seed and overseeding with that. But, boys will be boys, and DH wants the lush front yard. So he's going back to the concoctions of Jerry Baker.
The price of some "organic" fertilizers is pretty steep and I can't justify spending that kind of money on grass. The ingredients for these concoctions can be purchased at the Dollar Stores and gives enough product to make several batches as opposed to just one feeding.
Check out his books and his "Grandma Putt's" specials. You'd be pleasantly surprised.
Those Jerry Baker concoctions are not necessarily organic, just because you can make them with things you find around the house doesn't make them organic. Not trying to say you should or shouldn't use them, that's obviously a personal choice but wanted to make sure people knew most of them probably aren't organic. Also, there's a thread going on a couple of the beginner forums about someone who used one of his concoctions and wound up burning their plants, I don't know if everyone's figured out exactly why yet, maybe the concoction wasn't mixed up properly or something. But do be careful--while there is probably one component of each of his ingredients that is good for plants in some way, there may be other components that aren't (the alcohol in beer or Listerine for example).
http://www.dirtdoctor.com has a lot of great information for you.
For an organic herbicide, you can use Vinegar (10% acidity - found at feed stores and some nurseries). Per gallon of the 10% vinegar add 2 ounces of orange oil and a tablespoon of soap. Mix well. Spray during the heat of the day. Whatever green it gets on will turn brown and die, so take care where you spray it. It may take a few applications for some foliage (like bermuda grass)! Also, avoid breathing it, getting it in your eyes, or getting it on your skin. It will burn! If it gets on your skin, just wash it with soap and water. It will not harm woody plants. I killed some poison ivy with it just last week!