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 Post subject: Killing it all off...
PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:22 pm 
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Location: Arlington Heights,ILLINOIS
Pre-emptive apologies for the double post (on Turf Management)

I really need to start all over with the grass next to my driveway. Not sure if I am going to just replace it with a gigantic sun garden or new sod/seed. But for starters, I need to kill off every weed.

It's a lot of work, but the first thing I need to do is separate the wheat from the chaff my hand-digging as many of the weeds out as possible. These go into a special aluminum foil-wrapped sun oven that kills the weed seeds and then they can go into my compost bin. Only the most obvious offenders will be pulled -- I don't have the manpower or time to hand-eradicate every one of them and all their upcoming progeny.

I could just rent a sod-cutter and carve it all out that way -- but then I have giant rolls of weed-infested sod. Can't put it in yardwaste bags (a no-no), can't throw it in the compost heap (weed seeds need to be killed off first, yes?), can't sell it, so killing the weeds off first seems the most organic way (and, I'm finding, the most labor-intensive way) of doing it.

Next, I'll kill off the grass by digging a trench around the entire area. Cover with a large sheet of black plastic. Secure with bricks (on the driveway side) and bury in the trench on the grass sides. Wait for a good three weeks (if it ever decides to get warm up here in Chicagoland).

Once uncovered, remove all the dead grass and leftover weeds. Hopefully, that length of time (given some good, hot days) will eradicate all the weed seeds left over.

Then, following the sage advice of someone who posted a great article on preparing one's soil, I'll prepare the soil using a 1/2 to 1/2 mixture of nice, black compost (presuming 1/2 soil and 1/2 compost here). When I remove the dead grass, I will shake off as much soil as possible, which means I shouldn't have to bring the soil back up level with the yard and driveway (there will be a slight depression, I'm assuming -- maybe some rich topsoil from another source in the garden would be a good idea -- but I would need to make sure it's free of weed seeds, too).

Once the compost is mixed with the soil, then I face a fork in the road. Giant sun garden or grass? I don't think I'll sod again, because I don't think there are any sod vendors in Chicagoland who actually RAISE their sod organically. I don't want to plant sod that's been raised with chemical fertilizers (and more weed seeds, probably), so to avoid introducing any foreign elements into my grass that I can't control, seeding seems the best route to take.

Where would the Dirt Doctor community adjust the techniques, direction, and methods I've mentioned here?"

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 12:41 am 
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I would stop all the hard labor and solarize it now. Rather than using black plastic, which only shades the grass, I would suggest using clear plastic, which really steams the grass and soil. Before you start with the clear plastic, saturate the soil with water. Then be sure you get a good seal around the edges of the clear plastic. Every day you get direct sunlight on the plastic, the moisture from the soil will condense on the plastic forming thousands of magnifying glasses that literally cook the grass/weeds out. Soil temps can get well above (slow) cooking temps down several inches. And, not to make this sound like I'm going in reverse order, before solarizing I would mow the grass and weeds down as low as practical. You can compost the weed seeds. They will either sprout in the compost or they will cook in the compost. Either way they are done for.

For your grass in Chicago, I would look into getting a mix of the Elite Kentucky bluegrass seeds. One mix that looks unbelievable is Moonlight, Midnight II, and Bedazzled. You'll have to search around for these seeds. They are only available from seed dealers, not nurseries. The seed is expensive but weed-free seed is always expensive. Once the grass comes in, you water and mow it like any other grass. The results will have your neighbors drooling over your grass.

To prep the soil I would run a power rake over it and sweep off anything you don't want. I would not go to the trouble of hand pulling out the existing dead grass. Then seed the grass, roll it down, and cover it with straw if you want to. Anything you cover it with could have weeds, so be careful. Leaving it uncovered should be fine. KBG seed takes about 3 weeks before germinating so you'll be watering 3x per day for that time. When 80% of the grass sprouts you can back off on the watering. When the grass is up to 4 inches, you can mow it back to 3. The general rule for the Elite KBGs is to mow them taller in the heat. First mow of spring could be at 2.5 inches and then gradually let it get up to 4.25 in July. Then back it down gradually to 2 inches before it snows.

Fertilize KBG on Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. Go HEAVY on Thanksgiving. Soy bean meal seems to be the organic fertilizer of choice in Chicago. Use it normally at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet and then go to 30 or even 40 pounds per 1,000 on Thanksgiving.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:51 pm 
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Location: Arlington Heights,ILLINOIS
Yeah, I don't know why I didn't think of just covering it in the first place -- I added a lot of extra steps there.

Where should I look for this seed mix? Rose Agra? Valley Green? Seedland?

Am I specifically looking for a product that offers all three varieties blended together? I seem to be finding one or two of the varieties, but not all three in one product. Seems like it would be a lot of extra cost to buy individual bags of each, especially if you are constrained by 25+ lb. bags.

The area I am covering is roughly 40' long x 8' wide (320' sq.), so I imagine just a small 10 lb. bag would do it (I could obviously use the rest for overseeding other areas).

Continuing the search...


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 6:31 pm 
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Pick Midnight II and go with that. Here is a close up picture looking down onto a piece of bark mulch in a Midnight lawn.

Image

Here's a link to a list of seed suppliers.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:12 am 
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Location: Arlington Heights,ILLINOIS
excellent... thanks for the info

I keep referring the local farmers who show up at the Chicagoland farmer's markets I attend to consider Dirtdoctor.com and all the cool things the site has to offer


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