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Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

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Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  Lemonie on 1/28/2013, 1:00 pm

This may seem a little off topic for a garden group, but the truth is that my unhealthy lawn greatly impacts the health and upkeep of my garden too (and yours as well). I'm trying to come up w/ a mostly organic way to get a more healthy lawn, especially in the back yard where my garden, pups and kids play. I'm also looking for some more cost effective ideas. Please share any remedies that have worked for you for:
1) Grubs (TONS of them!- aren't these bean beetle larva?) Evil or Very Mad
2) Creeping Charlie (now in my strawberry bed)
3) Crab Grass
4) Weeds galore!
So, yes, my backyard has almost no real grass to speak of as everything else has taken over. We used a lawn service for the front lawn last year which took care of everything but a patch of creeping charlie and crab grass. But the lawn service is expensive and I worry about the chemicals. SOS

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  Kelejan on 1/28/2013, 1:06 pm

Sounds like your lawn needs feeding. Very Happy
And I don't mean chemicals. Very Happy

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  camprn on 1/28/2013, 7:36 pm

My suggestion....get your soil tested and contact your local County Extension Service. They may be able to offer some good advice especially about invasive plants and IDing the grubs so you may treat appropriately.

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  Lemonie on 1/28/2013, 8:52 pm

Thanks for the replies. The lawn service did test our soil and I'd have to dig out the report because I don't remember the specifics. I know they mentioned we needed to add lime and had a very dense, clay soil (which is common in our area). I will have to ask about the grubs though...someone mentioned something about using milky spore? But I'd have to look into the details as I'm not very familiar with it.
Since we have dense, clay soil...would it help to sprinkle used coffee grounds around my yard to encourage more worms to work the soil for me? And then spray a few times w/ compost tea? Sorry, but I was a little unsure of what you meant by my lawn needing a feeding. Can you please explain?

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  camprn on 1/28/2013, 9:07 pm

Not all grubs are the same and the treatments may be different if your grubs are of a beetle other than the Japanese beetle. If they said put limestone down go ahead and do that. It really sounds like you need to build up the top layer of soil in your yard area so, use a mulching lawn mower. Give it a light layer of municipal compost. It may also benefit from an aeration treatment; you could talk to your lawn guys about that. Sprinkling used coffee grounds would certainly bring on earthworm activity, which in turn, over time, would improve the soil, which then in turn would improve your lawn. It would really help you a lot if you could find those test results so you know which treatment direction would actually help

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  plantoid on 1/29/2013, 12:13 am

When it's wet can you sink a garden fork's tines down to about six inches deep or deeper ?

If so ..... use a string line and aireate the whole of the lawn area in six inch apart rows fork width by fork width. Give the fork a good wiggle and a gentle back ease then put it upright and ease the fork out on every aireation spit. This wil allow air into the soil and let bacteria start to develop on dead vegetable matter . don't walk over what you have done .

Once done leave it a day or so then broadcast by hand a cubic foot of new peat / composted that has a cup full of calcified sea weed in each cubic foot over each square yard . Only treat a sqyare yeard at a time . Use a stiff yeard broom to swish it over the aireated squares and it won't be long beore the worms take the peat etc down , the lime starts to release locked in nutrients in the clay & crumb ithe clay , the seaweed element will fertilize the grass and before long you'll be cursing because you'll have to cut the grass at least once a week for a few months . Laughing

The grass will also develop better roots , dig out weeds with as little disturbance as possible . If you leave the grass cutting alone for as long as you dare when you cut it and the weeds , there's a good chance of killing alot of the weeds in that first cut . If you can cut long grass in height of summer as soon as the weeds flower it is usually more effective as the weed will have used up lots of energy and have started the death throes of it's seed production cycle . Few if any of the new seeds that managed to get growing will have matured so no more weeds from those sources .

The lime will also help reduce the soil acidity but it will need several annual calcified seaweed dressings before it shows good . The colour of the grass should darken by several shadeds as well
the peat /coir will end up as moisture reserviors in the fork tine holes and become home to worms who start making drainage holes deeper and deper inthe clay till 40 yrs later they are drainging a well cared lawn down to about three feet deep .

Broadcasting some salt free sharp sand / grit whe you do the peat broad casting will eventualy help provide better drainage over the years as it works its way down the aireation holes .

If you spike I and treat it it as mentioned already each autumn after giving the lawn a light rolling in several directions it will be about four years before you have a fantastic lawn . Any lumps that show up can be " Lanced open in a cross , opend up and the height of the soil reduced then curl back the turf and water it down before rolling an hour or so later . Hollows are treated similar but instead of removing the hump you fill the depression slightly proud and the recover and water etc.
Dont' fully remove the turf by taking it out in swuartes there is no need and the " hinge you have left in the turf helps you realign the "lancing cuts " correctly every time .

Persistant weeds ..if you really want to be organic dig out a square yard of 2 " thick turf and replace it with a new weed free one water it in well and roll a bit later . Put the old turf to compost once you have taken it to bits and removed the pernicious roots & plants ( it's very hard work on a well infested large lawn )

I found that over time use of a mulching mower .... A mat of dead decaying material develops and it can turn into an oxygen depleting blanket that deadens a lawn & turns into a matress of water retention material , when on clay you ought to change things for better drainage and more oxygen .
Sometimes using a lawn de thatcher ( powered machine ) gives a tired lawn a big boost if done in early spring and a bed rest if done in late autimn when it is dry & then do the aireating etc.


Don't be fooled into thinking a skinhead hair cut type lawn is good ....it is a dead cert on a clay lawn for making things many times worse as well as developing moss in the turf. Summer cut height minimum of 1 " and cooler times perhaps 2 to 2.5 inches is good ( it all depends on the weather Wink ) .

If your lawn is really really bad , rototil after digging out the weeds by hand and removing them from teh area , cover to at least at least four inches with well composted manures & straw . Rototil to a depth of a least 12 inches & do during the dryer months . Think of sowing a new lawn from seed whilst the ground is still warm just before it starts to get to autumn rains instead of using imported turf
Keep of the area for a couple of months till the grass gets established and after the second cutting of the grass reaching 3 inches high.

This way there is a bed of food good enough of seven years or so for the lawn to develop on and the grass roots will get deep down to make good grass .

Ye gods , I've just realized ... it took me 50 odd years to get that lot right Laughing


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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  Kelejan on 1/29/2013, 1:38 am

Wow, Plantoid, that was a really in-depth explanation of what I meant in my two-line reply of the "lawn needs feeding."
I'm going to bookmark that as my own lawn needs a lot of attention. Very Happy

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  plantoid on 1/29/2013, 6:20 am

Just seen my post which i sent after many smile worthy edits ..... I'm having a strange difficult amusing dyslexic day and 3/4'ers , so all the strange words and broken thoughts are given free without charge or hire fees. Laughing

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  Lemonie on 1/29/2013, 12:29 pm

Wow! Sounds like you have gleaned a lot of knowledge from personal experience. And it sounds like I have a lot of work to do! That was a really neat thought about using the garden fork to aerate the lawn. I had never seen them do the aerating before but it was suggested to us. Good to know we can do it ourselves without having to get special equipment. Smile Thanks for all of the info!

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  Kelejan on 1/29/2013, 12:55 pm

Be warned, Lemonie, aerating a lawn with a garden fork is a long and tedious business, but worth it. Just do half an hour at a time, or a couple of square yards. Mark where you have left off, and do another session another day, but keep it up on a regular basis.

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  yolos on 1/29/2013, 1:14 pm

When we moved into our new house, I bought a cheapy thing from Home Depot. You step on it and it punchtures the ground and when you pull it up it pulls a plug of ground out with it aireating the ground. The only problem was, when I first started doing it, the ground was so hard (red ga. clay), I had to use a hammer to get the tines into the ground and then a screw driver to get the clay out of the things that punched into the ground.

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  Turan on 1/29/2013, 2:11 pm

@Lemonie wrote:
2) Creeping Charlie (now in my strawberry bed)
SOS

I have Creeping Charlie also and have been searching for a way to at least hem it in. The sheep and horses will not graze it so it is spreading. What I have been reading is that it is weeding, and spraying once a year with a dilute borax solution. Here is a good link on this http://www.extension.umn.edu/yardandgarden/ygbriefs/h519borax.html

O yeah, don't compost CC or throw it over the fence for the critturs to eat...... Embarassed

I have read various opinions on how sensitive strawberries are to boron. So if you try a boron spray do it in a test spot first. I hope to stop the CC before it reaches the strawberries.

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  Lemonie on 1/29/2013, 2:54 pm

@Turan wrote:
@Lemonie wrote:
2) Creeping Charlie (now in my strawberry bed)
SOS

I have Creeping Charlie also and have been searching for a way to at least hem it in. The sheep and horses will not graze it so it is spreading. What I have been reading is that it is weeding, and spraying once a year with a dilute borax solution. Here is a good link on this http://www.extension.umn.edu/yardandgarden/ygbriefs/h519borax.html

Very interesting! Might try that in a small area of the yard to see how it does on all weeds vs. established grass. Luckily, the MM makes it easy to pull the whole root of the weeds out. But they keep getting back in due to the heavy infestation between the fence and box/trellis. I might try pouring a good dose of Borax mix or baking soda (I heard that works as an organic "kill all") behind that area before the season starts to see if it keeps the weeds at bay. Our neighbor's weeds are worse than ours, so the fence line is a constant battle ground w/ the garden.

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  Turan on 1/29/2013, 3:11 pm

Here is the pertinent recipe part from the link~

Borax Solution for Creeping Charlie Control:

Dissolve 10 oz. Twenty Mule Team Borax in 4 oz. (½ cup) warm water.
Dilute in 2.5 gallons of water.

This will cover 1,000 square feet. If you have a smaller area to treat, cut the "recipe" accordingly.

Apply borax when creeping charlie is actively growing in the spring, when no rain is expected for 48 hours. The borax treatment appears to be most effective during warm summers when soil moisture is ample.

Remember: The borax recipe has been tested only on creeping charlie and is not to be used on other broadleaf weeds. Be sure to use the borax spray only in the lawn because research shows established grass is tolerant of the spray. It should not be used in gardens.


May we prevail! neener neener neener

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  plantoid on 1/30/2013, 5:06 pm

I think you need to check the amount of Borax needed by going somewhere else reliable ( is there such a thing ?? Laughing Laughing )

They are saying dissolve 10 ounces in 4 ounces of warm water
It seems a tall order..unless someone knows it can be done.
I can see that 1.0 ounces of borax would dissolve very easily
I wouldn't like to see someone kill their garden by putting something ten times stronger than needed.

EDIT ten min later

Found this elsewhere , it's worth a punt just use more hot water from the total volume to dissolve things ..
http://www.ehow.com/how_7649860_kill-20-mule-team-borax.html
You need to read it all ....including the cautionary tips at the end of the article.

I'm going to give a whirl for my less than one year old new lawns have developed some clover and St John's wort as well as the other dreaded weed we call creeping butter cup that need sorting in the next week or so .

The weeds are all due to me using some uncomposted stable muck ( by the trailer load ) as part of the deep area manuring & turning it in with a rotor tiller to a depth of 12 inches or more prior to seeding it as a lawn .

If it works I'll Be chuffed to blazes

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  camprn on 1/30/2013, 5:46 pm

Ok, I'm going out on a limb here and giving the same advice I gave before. It is wise to find out what the actual problem is before throwing all sorts of treatments around in the yard....

The thing about executing an intervention is it will often lead to other problems that then will require another intervention. And all of this may not be what is needed, if you are guessing about the problem right out of the gate.

For example, the creeping charlie, though quite obvious, may not be the real trouble, it may simply be a symptom of deeper problems with the soil.

To the original poster, were you able to find the test results you spoke of in a previous post?

More conversation about creeping charlie on another gardening forum.
http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/orglawn/msg0416343627471.html


Last edited by camprn on 1/30/2013, 6:00 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : added link)

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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  Turan on 1/30/2013, 11:54 pm

@plantoid wrote:I think you need to check the amount of Borax needed by going somewhere else reliable ( is there such a thing ?? Laughing Laughing )

They are saying dissolve 10 ounces in 4 ounces of warm water
It seems a tall order..unless someone knows it can be done.
I can see that 1.0 ounces of borax would dissolve very easily
I wouldn't like to see someone kill their garden by putting something ten times stronger than needed.

EDIT ten min later

Found this elsewhere , it's worth a punt just use more hot water from the total volume to dissolve things ..
http://www.ehow.com/how_7649860_kill-20-mule-team-borax.html
You need to read it all ....including the cautionary tips at the end of the article.

Its the recipe supplied by at least 2 Agriculture extension services attached to major universities.

Now let us convert the 2 recipes to the same units. One level cup of 20 Mule Team borax weighs: 7.2 ounces .204 kg 204 grams
Recipe 1- 10 oz (1.4 cups) mixed into 4 oz of water and then diluted with 2.5 gallons.
Recipe 2- Mix 3.5cups (25.2oz) of 20 Mule Team Borax into 1 gallon of water.

ehows recipes is calling for 2.5X more borax in less than half as much water.


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Re: Organic Lawn Maintenance? Grubs, Weeds, Ect?

Post  Turan on 1/31/2013, 12:09 am

@camprn wrote:
For example, the creeping charlie, though quite obvious, may not be the real trouble, it may simply be a symptom of deeper problems with the soil.

More conversation about creeping charlie on another gardening forum.
http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/orglawn/msg0416343627471.html

I definatily agree. Plantoids advice on the aerating and all is right on. The link you have has many interesting points, one being to keep scalping back the CC and not the grass around it. That made me go silly me because the animals graze the grass and not the CC, so of course that means I need to artificially crop it short to at least keep it on par with the grass. DUH silly me

So my plan is to use the borax once this spring (they say to only do it once in a season) and then follow up by keeping those patches mowed very short.

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