Volume 13, Issue 37 ~ September 15 - 21, 2005
Dr. Gouin's Bay Gardener

Renovate Your Lawn with Compost

If you desire a lush looking lawn next spring, now is the time to take action.

First, If your lawn is heavily infested with broadleaf weeds such as dandelions and plantain, it is best to control those with spot treatments of phenoxy compounds such as Weed-B-Gone or Trimec. Allow at least one week for the chemicals to kill the weeds before proceeding.

Then evenly spread between one-half and one inch of compost such as LeafGro, Orgro, Chesapeake Blue or Top Pro over your existing lawn. Use the back of a steel rake. Plan for two to four cubic yards of compost per 1,000 square feet of lawn. If you can purchase the compost by bulk, it will be much cheaper than by bag. One bag of compost contains approximately one cubic foot. One cubic yard contains 27 cubic feet.

Next spread seed as uniformly as possible, then rake into the compost with a lawn leaf rake. The existing blades of grass poking up from the compost will help shade the seeds and newly emerging grass.

In sowing a fescue, use seven to 10 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet. For a bluegrass lawn, use five to seven pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Water the newly seeded lawn daily until seeds germinate in about two weeks; then cut back watering to two to three times per week until the new grass is as tall as the existing grass.

The compost will rot the thatch — a layer of dead grass and root layer covering the soil — and release nutrients at the same time. If you use compost, you don’t have to apply any chemical fertilizer.

Applied Lawn Advice

I am doing some lawn restoration at my house this weekend and am hoping to get some advice from you.

It’s a part-sun-to-shade lawn that does not grow grass well; in fact some parts don’t even have weeds.

In other areas weeds grow, including a four- to six-inch-high broadleaf with light lavender flowers; a low growing, spreading, three-leaf plant with small yellow flowers that become little red strawberry fruits; a six-inch-high spreading broadleaf with little white flowers, growing like mad.

The soil seems to have a lot of silt and clay. It is slick when wet and I can mold it into a ball. It turns hard and crumbles when dry. I plan to fill low areas with imported topsoil up to four inches in a few spots. 

– Vin Hardick

A If there is too much shade to grow weeds, then you can’t expect to grow grass. Under that dense shade, you might want to grow a ground cover like liriope.

Henbit is that pinkish flowering weed, and the white flowering weed that is growing like mad is chickweed. If that yellow flowering weed is wood strawberry, kill it in the summer with several applications of Weed-B-Gone applied monthly.

You shouldn’t spread sandy loam soil over silt or clay soils. Get either Compro or Leafgro and amend what you have, till and grade. Lay compost about two inches thick before tilling.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected]. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address

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