We have an old neglected lawn that is covered with moss (it is pretty
shady) and weeds - I think we have non-shade tolerate grass mixed in
with the weeds. We are interested in getting new sod down but are
wondering if this can be done without using herbicides. We will
probably contract it out but most of the instructions I see when I
search on the network involve killing all the weeds with herbicides and
then letting the grass sit.
Has anyone had this done professionally and organically?
It might be difficult to find sod that was produced to "organic"
Barring that tilling (because moss indicates poor drainage/compaction)
adjusting the pH with lime
to be optimal for turfgrass, and raking out the lumps would be a good
start. As would increasing the organic content of the soil by working
Lawns are a crop for fools :)
I have been mucking around with my lawn 3-4 years and have tried both
growing new grass and renovating the existing. I have gone very much away
from synthetic fertilisers and sprays.
If you want to try rennovating the old grass, dependant on what type of lawn
you have, letting in more sunlight can (it did for me anyway) encourage the
lawn to grow and reduce the moss. This may need some pruning if you have
heavy foliage. You can also try mowing the lawn back severely for a period
when it is in its growing season, preferably spring. This will open up the
lawn for sun light thereby reducing the moss and cause the lawn to thicken
up by sending out a series of stalks from the stem. This may also open up
space for the weeds however proper care of the lawn to encourage its growth
will see it crowd out other things. Follow up the severe hair cut with at
least 1 good raking to remove the moss. Spring is best in my experience as
it allows grass growth into summer when strong sunlight retards the moss
Liming will almost certainly help and putting in organic matter as well. You
can dig compost into the soil however this will also dig in your grass. A
good way to get compost into existing turf is via a liquid compost tea,
another good source if work tea. A google search for compost tea will tield
many good websites. This will add nutrients to the soil and encourage
microbal and worm activity. A health soil will do much to deliver healthy
grass and fewer moss/weeds. Ideally for compost tea a continuous brew (and
old barrel, hessian sack continuously fed with organic matter, brewed for
several weeks and drawing off the liquid as you need it, water the liquid
down 8-1 or 10-1) is good and feeds of the lawn every 2-3 weeks. A feed 1-2
times a year of a blood and bone fertiliser is also helpful. provided you do
not use B&B on any crops you may eat there is nothing wrong with using it.
It is banned for some organic use due to mad cow disease.
If you can't be bothered with all of this and simply want to kill off the
existing turf someone in this thread suggested black polythene over the
grass. There is an organic weedkiller you can buy, dependant on where you
are called Organic Interceptor
http://www.certifiedorganics.co.nz/index.cfm/pid_16/ It is a pine oil based
product, there are other like products around based on palm oil for
instance. This kills of the foliage but does not attack the root system as
far as I know. If you use the product you will have to spray several times
for any regrowth but with enough application you should be able to exhaust
the root system of most weeds. A few sprays followed by the polythene may be
a good process (or vice versa). Also, digging out thre grass and exposing
the roots to the sun is supposed to work though I have never tried it.
I was fixated on my lawn almost to the point of being obsessed about it. I
now have my weeds/undesirable grasses under control enough that I use a
knife to cut the bastards out. Admittedly I did get them under control using
a selective broadleaf spray and spot spraying with roundup. I have since
learnt enough to shy away from those products. Using a knife is a lot of
work but over time it has yielded results for me. You can either cut at the
soil leve or slightly below it to get part of the root. The theory is that
if you cultivate it enough the root stock will become exhausted. I have seen
surprisingly little regrowth from areas I have growned. The other key is to
cut the pest out before it seeds.
If your site is shady you may not have much luck growing a lawn despite
the purchase of new sod. The use of sod makes the site de facto
You might be able to kill the moss and weeds by covering the area with
polyethyene plastic. When the hot sun hits the plastic it can cook the
weeds and kill a lot of them.
Improve your sun by removing diseased trees and get a soil test. If
you have 6 hours of full sun then it would be worth it.
Consider amending your soil with lots of organic matter and then
planting seed rather than sod. Yu can buy grass varieties that may be
more shade tolerant than sod. Ask at your local nursery or landscape
company what varieties they use.
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