Lawn Maintenance

Discussion in 'Crops & Gardens' started by Ken Anderson, Jun 28, 2018.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    I don't live in an area where very many people pride themselves on beautiful lawns, although some do, and I don't suppose I'd mind having a beautiful lawn. But I'd be satisfied having grass rather than moss and bare spots in the lawn. Clover is fine. Plantain is fine. I'd rather not have so many dandelions, however. I suppose I could do a soil analysis, but that's fancier than I had in mind.

    My house sits on land that was reportedly underwater more than a hundred years ago when the mill filled it in with coal ash, then covered it with a few inches of topsoil. However, we had a full lawn when we bought the place in 2000. One section of the back lawn stays soggy for a while after a large rain, but I have been filling that in, little by little, with compost. I used to haul it from the townsite, but now I make my own.

    Nearly every year, I have been spreading compost over the lawn, along with whatever topsoil or potting soil might be left over after gardening operations, in an attempt to build up the soil.

    The lawn wasn't a well manicured, perfect lawn when we moved in but, over the years, it got worse.

    About ten years ago, I spread some lime on the lawn after my neighbor told me it needed lime, and that did a great job of killing large patches of it, some of which still haven't grown back in. Clearly, that was a mistake. Weeds wouldn't even grow there. I ended up digging up some of that soil and replacing it with new topsoil, but it still hasn't recovered from the lime experiment. Of course, it wasn't in great shape before that, which is why I tried the lime.

    For a couple of years, we were up north during the spring, summer, and fall. When we returned, moss had taken the place of the grass in much of the lawn. I could even live with the moss, except that it turns a reddish-brown in late-summer. I dug as much of that up as I could three years ago, replacing it with a mixture of topsoil and compost, then reseeded it.

    The grass grew well throughout the summer and fall, but very little of it survived the winter. I forget what type of grass I used but it was something that was supposed to grow well here. I reseeded it again, using way more seed than I had the previous year, and a few different types of grass. More of it survived the winter than the previous crop, but moss is coming back in parts of the yard.

    This year, we have a lot more clover than we've had before, and I haven't planted clover. A yard full of clover would be okay with me, but the clover isn't growing where the moss is. The moss is growing in what had been a depressed area of the backyard but I have filled it in so that it's even with the rest of the yard. We are having a lot of rain this year, but that's not unusual.

    I am getting some interesting weeds in the side yard, thanks to the bird feeder. That yard actually looks the nicest.
     
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  2. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Ken Anderson The idea with lime is that in places where the soil tends to be acidic, the lime neutralizes the acid condition. But lime is VERY basic, and it's indiscriminate use will kill most any plants. Years back, we heard a lot about the "acid rain" in mostly the Northeast, I think it was, causing acidification of lakes and waterways, to the point of them becoming uninhabitable by marine life. The acid rain was blamed on power plants which contributed things like carbon dioxide to the air, which when dissolved in water creates a rather weak acid called "Carbonic Acid". It's true that CO2 dissolved in water causes it to have an acidic Ph, as low as 5.0 (7.0 is neutral, neither acid nor alkaline). But, Carbonic Acid cannot be isolated as a "real" acid.

    As an aside, our desert areas are very alkaline because of the lack of rain. Layers of "natural concrete" built up over the eons, exist a short distance below the soil surface, usually less than a foot. The stuff is called "Caliche" (kuh-lee-chee), and is a headache to any who must excavate holes. Vegas has more of it than we do down here.

    In your case, the stuff underlying the soil may not have been acidic, and therefore the lime killed everything.
    Frank
     
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  3. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    A soil test would help, Ken, as would a visit to your State Extension Office, if you have one. Lime generally helps discourage moss and dandelions, but the moss indicates moisture and shade (I have the same problem) but I have started using the "moss-killing" fertilizer and that seems to help. Some of the stuff that was used to fill in the land may be leaching up. A complete soil analysis should tell you that, but you can buy little kits designed for the homeowner that would give you pH, N, P, and K levels in your soil, pH being (probably) the most important. Grass will tolerate a higher pH than dandelions (supposedly) so liming should make it harder for them to grow if your soil is acid but it is not a herbicide, so don't expect them to disappear. Good luck with your lawn.
     
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  4. Tim Burr

    Tim Burr Very Well-Known Member
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    Ken, I can understand your frustration with your lawn.

    I have a fairly decent front yard that demands upkeep such as mowing, trimming, etc.
    I don't really care much about the front and it is a CHORE to mow.

    And we have only one home owner on the block with an underground sprinkler system,
    so in the middle of summer, he has the only green lawn! :rolleyes:

    Now my backyard is filled with benches, tables, grill, firepit, etc. so all I have to do
    is fire up the trimmer and I'm done in short order. Enjoying my 'finished my chore' beer.

    Still wish there were kids who would come by pushing a mower and offer to mow your lawn,
    as a way of earning spending money. I would gladly pay what they wanted.

    Sadly, those days are long gone...:(
     
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  5. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Everybody here has underground sprinkler systems @Tim Burr but our lawns are still not green in the summer.

    If somebody has a nice green lawn it means they aren't following the restricted watering schedule. Plus I'm sure their water bill is HUGE.

    Everybody also has lawn care here...I pay $125 a month and Alfonso comes every Friday am dmows and trims and edges and blows...he spends about an hour here an dour yards are tiny.

    He's very trust worthy and always fixes my broken sprinkler heads etc....very cheaply.
     
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  6. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    We have more water than we know what to do with here. It was supposed to be hot and dry for a few days, beginning today, but it has been drizzling off and on today, and we've had rain pretty much every second or third day since the snow melted. That's typical of Maine, too.
     
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  7. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    We dont not get any rain in the summer at all.
     
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  8. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Greeter
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    When I first moved onto the property up in north Idaho, there was nothing but thistles and ferns that grew in the area where I put my trailer house, and a few lupines and mullein plants here and there.
    The property had been timbered for many years, and then logged over.
    The area where my trailer went was on one of the logging roads right at the landing where they skidded the logs out to be hauled away; so there was lots of bark and old branches as well as all of the thistles.
    Instead of getting grass seed for lawns, I bought pasture seed which had a mixture of grasses and clovers in it, and that seemed to do really well, and gradually the clover spread.
    I burned in the spring and fall when fires were safe, so I spent a lot of time raking and burning from the old slash piles debris. As long as I kept the mowing done on a regular basis, the thistles and ferns could not get a firm enough grip to thrive, plus I took the weedeater to them after I mowed as much as possible,
    The clover is a legume, and should set nitrogen and help your soil improve, if you can get it to grow. A pasture mix that has lots of clover seeds might work for you, too, especially since you are not trying to have a perfect grass lawn, just a nice one and a healthy one.
    Mowing should keep the dandelions short, too, and the mowed leaves will help mulch the lawn.

    Maybe, taking the weedeater to the moss will keep it short enough that the grass and clover can take over ?
     
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  9. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    When I lived in California, we'd get rain maybe once a year, and it would last for two weeks.
     
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  10. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    I have quite a lot of clover this year, including some of the areas that the lime had killed. It isn't growing where the moss is though. I might pick up some clover seed from the Tractor Store. As I said, I am not concerned with having a beautiful lawn, and I'm not running a golf course here, but I'd rather not have brown moss or bare spots in the lawn.
     
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  11. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Veteran Member
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    I live in a working class neighborhood among the older central districts of Norman. I pay $45.00 every two weeks for my yard to be mowed, front and back. That's a major expense for a retirement budget. If you don't mow and someone complains, the city will come out and give you a warning ticket and tell you to mow your yard. If you don't they can fine you. w've had almost four inches of rain the past eight days and the graass is growing faster but I'm keeping mine mowed. I'm always glad when fall comes around and the grass does not grow so fast. In my next life I'll get a house out in the country where I can live in a natural environment if i can remember I didn't like it here in town.
     
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  12. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Fortunately, my lawn is small enough that it takes only a few minutes to mow it. Otherwise, we do still have kids who will mow the lawn for a few dollars.
     
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  13. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Chrissy Cross @Hal Pollner
    Curiosity begs to know: what is the cost of water in drought-strapped CA? Is it high? Here in the desert we use about 20,000 gals. per month for a cost of about $40.
    Frank
     
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  14. Pam Sellers

    Pam Sellers Member
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    Don Alaska is right on it! Take a soil sample to your local extension office and they can test it and tell you exactly what you need. I love a beautiful green manicured lawn! In my opinion, it just gives the impression that this is a loved and cared for home! But then again, I love gardening! LOL
     
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  15. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    I pay close to $100 a month for water, sewer and garbage @Frank Sanoica ...it's a little cheaper in the winter.

    I also don't use as much water as a family would...seldom run my dishwasher and washing machine.

    I'm also gone a lot.

    The higher price in the summer is due to the sprinklers.
     
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  16. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    I just looked at my last bill and I used about half the amount you did and the water portion of the bill was $38.

    But last month I was gone for a few days and we were only allowed to water twice a week.

    Now we can water three times a week until the end of August.

    In the winter we can only water on saturdays but I don't bother..we get some rain in the winter.
     
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