Lawn Care Tips

As a lawn care provider for 20+ years, my aim here is to provide some helpful hints, tips and advice to those who want to increase the health and appearance of the lawn they care for. Whether you are new to lawn care or an old hand, you will find information here that will save you time, money and wasted effort. Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, April 02, 2005

Compost: The Natural Fertilizer

The use of compost for your lawn and garden is one of the most overlooked and yet simplest things a homeowner can do to improve their landscape.

To increase the organic matter in the soil of their gardens and flower beds, a lot of people will go down to their garden center and purchase large and costly bags of peat moss. It might also be used as a mulch in these places. What these people may not know is that compost serves the very same purposes - and more. Compost is the end product of organic materials that have been acted by microbes. And when compost is mixed into the soil it will improve the soil structure as well as increase the amount of organic matter. An added benefit to compost is that it supplies a very safe and slow release of nutrients. Unlike peat moss, compost can be used as a top dressing not only in gardens and flower beds but also as a top dressing to your lawn. This top dressing technique can be very effective if you have more thatch in your lawn than you should.

For most people, the ingredients to make their own compost is free and readily available. All that is needed are leaves (raked up in the previous Fall) and grass clippings from the mowing season. Because leaves may not be readily available during the mowing season, at that time any high carbon source of cellulose - such as wood sawdust, newspaper that has been printed with non-toxic soy ink, or strips of corrugated brown cardboard - can be mixed with the grass clippings. Then when the Fall arrives, you can start mixing the grass clipping compost with the a new composting pile that will include the Fall leaves. That way you will have the necessary mix of a high carbon source (the leaves) with a high nitrogen source (the grass clipping compost) to further encourage the growth of microbes in your compost pile.

There are gardeners who are compost enthusiasts. Some of them spend a lot of time attending their compost piles. Their approach is very “active”. They frequently turn the pile, add water, and even measure its internal temperature, all in an effort to produce finished compost more quickly. None of this, however, is necessary. Another equally effective approach to composting is the “passive” approach. With this technique you simply add to your compost pile occasionally, mixing in the "green" with the "brown", and then let Nature decompose the pile over a longer period of time.

Many people have shied away from composting because they have been told and they believe that compost piles are always smelly. This, however, should never be the case. A compost pile that does not include kitchen scraps or dog droppings should not have an objectionable odor. If it should have more odor than you care for, this can usually be remedied by taking a few shovelfuls of topsoil and sprinkling it over the top of the compost pile. Not only will this help with any odor problem, but you will be adding more microbes to the ingredients in your compost pile which will help break them down even faster.

Some final thoughts on composting. Your compost pile will break down significantly faster if you occasionally sprinkle the top with water when it has become dry due to lack of rain. Also, depending on how much attention you give your compost pile, you can obtain a good end product in anywhere from one month to two years. You will know that your compost pile is ready to use when it has turned very dark brown (almost black) and has a very crumbly consistency. At this point, none of the ingredients that went into your compost pile will be recognizable.

NOTE: If you would like to try your hand at composting, there is a ton of information on the internet. Try search engines or gardening sites for the term “composting”.

NEXT TIME: Protecting Your Lawn From Grub Damage


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