Tired of throwing money @ my chem lawn

pbx2_gwApril 24, 2014

I Want to transition to a Organic lawn.

We have issues that I tried to show below in the link.
Our story is the usual cliche:
Builder put sod on compacted clay without properly prepping the soil.
Grass in it's second season is patchy & yellowy.
We spend about $700 last year to get lawn chemically fertilized, aerated, overseeded, even got them to tested last year & they said everything was fine.

We didn't get results.

Read from dchall's post & Organic Lawn FAQ about laying down alfalfa pellets about 3-4 times a year. & recently I believe - he said to dispense with the compost altogether & just fertilize.

This would magically amend the soil without compost, topsoil, tilling, digging, resodding = a lush green no chem lawn that will be healthy & require less care.

So I'm planning to get Logan Labs in OH to do a soil test of a mix sampling around my lawn.

I have about 16K sqft of land & ~10k sqft (~1/4 acre) of that is lawn area.

1) Trying to do the cost vs. benefits analysis - is this the right math for alfalfa application?

20lbs/1000 sq ft Alfafa pellets/meal spread rate.
50lbs bag = 2.5k sq ft *4 bags = 10K sq ft coverage for my yard
@$18/ bag locally * 4 = $72/application.

2) If I do 4 application a year, is that enough?

3) Or should I do 1 application per month? For how many months then? Is that overkill?

Here is a link that might be useful: Current lawn pics

This post was edited by pbx2 on Thu, Apr 24, 14 at 20:19

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forsheems(Lexington, NC)

I started going organic this year and can already see a big difference in my lawn. Between the front and back lawn there's a total of 20k square feet so I put down 400lbs of alfalfa pellets at a time. The cheapest I've found locally so far is $13.75 per 50lbs bag. At that rate it is a little more expensive than synthetics but overall not a tremendous difference in price. Total is $110 per application compared to roughly $85 for synthetic. My soil was in pretty bad condition from years of synthetic fertilizers.

I'm also getting used coffee grounds from a local coffee shop. They dump them in a 5 gallon bucket filters and all and they are filling up 2 to 3 buckets per week. I spread them out on a large piece of plastic and remove the filters (filters go in the compost pile) and let the grounds dry out. Once they're mostly dry they get spread onto the yard. This is not a lot of work and 100% free so it works out really well.

For the alfalfa, unless you completely cover the grass with it you can't put out too much. If you can afford it, once per month shouldn't be an issue and would greatly improve your soil this year.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:32AM
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@ForsheeMS - Did you amend your soil in any other way before applying the coffee & Alfalfa i.e. using compost or top soil?

Your 20K sq ft looks like 8 x 50lbs bags of alfalfa or 2x the size of my yard. Excellent to know your costs.

How many times do you apply it? Or frequency?

& what do you apply it with?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:40PM
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forsheems(Lexington, NC)

I did a complete renovation back in September. Killed everything and started with a clean slate. I had two sinkholes where the builder burried stumps in the yard ( I'm the second owner) so these were filled in, the yard was leveled up, and I did add a layer of compost that was mixed into the soil with the box blade during the leveling process. So far I've done 2 applications of the alfalfa, first in late January and the second was April 7th. I use one of the bag spreaders, the kind you fill up and strap over your shoulder with a hand crank. Takes me about 45 minutes to do the whole lawn. I would like to do another application late May if there's room in the budget.

For the coffee grounds I just spread them by hand. They go in the areas where the grass looks a little weak and I also put them in the mole holes around the yard. Seems the moles don't like the coffee as they never return to a hole that the grounds are in.

I'm also looking into possibly using some chicken feed too. Sometimes the local feed store will run chicken feed crumbles on sale and they have 16% protein just like the alfalfa. Not sure if that would work as well but might give it a try.

Dchall is the organic guru here on the forums so hopefully he can chime in to help you out. The whole idea of organics is to feed the soil in order to feed the grass.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 3:07PM
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