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New Lawn/Compost Question

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
by EricDerek on June 14, 2006 05:37 AM
Hi, I’m looking to confirm I am doing the right thing and get any pointers before finishing up a lawn replacement project. First, let me give you a little background.

I am in the process of landscaping and transforming a heavily sloped backyard. (Total area about 4000 Sq. ft.) I cut back several trees and used a backhoe to level the earth out (cut down 2-3 feet on the high side and moved it to the lower side – but did not interrupt the natural drainage). I did a soil sample and have added lyme and fertilizer to help the soil. I also put down a little grass just to combat any erosion. (Growing nicely I might add.) The yard was neglected for years and was basically “woods” covered in several layers of leaves (maple, oak, hickory, etc.). Soil acidity was off the chart. Nitrogen very low, Phosphorus very high, Potassium very low.

In the fall I plan to add topsoil (1-3 inches, or until my arms give out – I wish I could add more, but I just don’t see it happening), along with any more fertilizer, lyme, etc. and any compost that is ready. I would then roto-till the yard and seed.

As for the compost pile, I started it last fall by cutting up leaves with my lawn mower and then adding table scraps all winter long. I turned it a few time over the winter. Yesterday I added green grass clippings and turned it again. It looked good on the bottom, although I think it needs more time. Noticed a decent number of worms and few bugs in the pile.

Do you agree with the lawn plan in terms of adding the lyme, fertilizer, topsoil, and rototilling?
Would you add anything or do anything different?
Is there anything else I can/should add or do to the lawn to help it over the next few months?

What is the best thing to do to get the compost in the best shape for my fall yard plans?
Should I add Lyme or fertilizer to the compost pile?
Should I add keep adding more green grass (and other stuff) to the pile or just start a new pile with that stuff? I have about 4 garbage cans worth of compost (maybe more).
Like any compost pile, the bottom is much further along in the process. Should I just use the bottom half on the lawn and leave the top half for future use?
When I go to rototill the back yard, should I add in any green grass clippings?
Is there anything else I can/should add to the pile to help it over the next few months?
Is there anything else I can/should add to the lawn to help it over the next few months?

Thanks for your help.


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by johnCT on June 14, 2006 08:43 AM
Sounds like you're on the right track Eric. I've done two lawn renovations in the last few years trying to combat a creeping bentgrass infestation. Have you been turning the pile regularly and keeping it moist? That will help it breakdown more rapidly. Other than that, over the next few months you need to control the weeds from going to seed and creating more future weed problems. Also, If it were me I would spread and mulch the grass clippings where you'll be planting the new grass in the fall. You'll be continuing to add organic matter to the soil which is a good thing. Also, instead of rototilling the area and broadcasting the seed you may want to think about core aerating and slit-seeding. It will disturb the soil far less and give much better results. Both machines are easily rented for a weekend for $50 a day or so.

Other answers....Don't add fert or lime to the compost. Don't bother adding any fertilizer to the area until you actually seed. The fertilizer is for the plants, unless your using organic fertilizer, so applying it now is pointless.

Check back before you start.

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John - Zone 6
by Longy on June 17, 2006 08:21 AM
I recall your first post a few months ago ED, sounds like you're well on the way. Maybe the only thing i could add is i wouldn't use the compost on the lawn area. It's gonna be better used in a garden with vegies or annuals and perrenials or whatever. The grass will be fine with the topsoil spread over the area.

A good organic fertilizer to add to the lawn area would be pelletized chicken manure type ferts, but as John said, any chemical ferts will probably be leached away by the time you get to seeding.
I recall you posted some fotos in your original posts. Any chance of an update?

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The secret is the soil.

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