Hi! My name is Angie, and my husband's name is Joe. We just became first time homeowners this winter in Ohio. Up until now we've both lived in apartments since graduating high school 13 yrs ago-We haven't had a yard to take care of. We have a fairly small yard (1/3 acre) & all of a sudden we're wondering what we should be doing with it this spring! As the snow melted & it started to warm up we both noticed that our yard looks a little worse than the neighbors. It has more yellowish areas & there are some very small bare patches (the previous owners had a dog, so we're thinking the dog had something to do with that). I'm pretty sure that many of the neighbors have lawn care services, which we're not interested in right now. I'm pretty opposed to using many chemicals on the lawn, if any at all. Personally, I think that absolutely perfect grass lawns looks a little weird. I want our lawn to look nice, but it certainly doesn't have to be perfect. My husband was thinking of putting on some sort of crab grass control chemical this spring, but he told me that if I could come up with a chemical free alternative soon then we'd do that instead. I did a google search, which led me to your blog. I read the post on August 27 about chemical free crab grass control & it was really helpful. Since we're so new to this, I was just wondering if you had any advice you could give me about spring lawn care & what we should be doing right now (especially about the small bare areas). I would really appreciate it!
Thanks so much!
Thanks for the question. I hope you don't mind me posting this, but unfortunately this is something many home owners are facing, so I figured the more people we can help, the better!
1). Yes the yellow spots are from the previous owners' dog, and unfortunately the only thing that can be done for that is to irrigate it well to deplete the "Hot" nitrogen (urea) from the soil. Good thing is it sounds like you've had a snowy winter, so as the snow melts, it is flushing the urea from the soil naturally. Also depending on if the dog was familiar with that area of the property, an application of lime will also help reduce the acidity of the soil.
2). Congratulations on going organic. If you visit my web site, www.thegardeningguru.com and go half way down the home page, you will see something called "The Organic Lawn Care Manual". This booklet will explain how to have an organic lawn that will actually look better than the chemically treated lawn, and you can feel safer walking barefoot on your lawn.
3). Organic crabgrass / weed control is done by using corn gluten, a by product of the corn industry. It does the same thing as a chemical does, which it puts down a barrier on the soil so when the plants germinate, it kills them. Now remember that since this is organic, you will not have 100% control. My suggestion is to apply this product before April 15th or before the forsythia flowers fade, and again in October. You will notice the amount of weeds and crabgrass will slowly decline, so be patient -- it will take a few years. But hey, having a few weeds isn't the end of the world!
So basically for right now, when the soil dries out enough, give it a good raking to remove the debris from winter, apply corn gluten to areas where you don't need to seed (corn gluten will also inhibit grass seeds from germinating). Where you are seeding an application of 5-10-5 (basic garden fertilizer which is organic) will be just fine. Also check your garden center and see if they carry Jonathan Green products. The have chemical as well as organic lawn fertilizers, and their seed is kickin' (best germination and purity % in the business). For what type of seed you need, check out the manual.
Good Luck and remember -- A bad day in the garden is still better than a good day at work!