Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

This is the place to discuss Organic lawncare.
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Avid123
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Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by Avid123 » September 8th, 2019, 4:24 pm

Hi
I'm a newbie here and to lawn care in general. I got some sod laid (KBG) about 2 months ago and recently laid down some starter fertilizer (Scotts 24-25-4) as the contractor hadnt done so originally.

Now that I've been reading up on getting the lawn ready for the winter (here in Toronto it's probably going to be buried under snow for a good 4 months at least), I've read that it needs nitrogen. Most advice I've received is to use multiple applications of urea or other fast release nitrogen which seems to conflict with some of the organic lawn care articles I've read , including the one by David Hall on this website.

So I was just wondering what would be a recommended approach for me to take this fall - based on preliminary research it seemed like an application of corn gluten meal 9-0-0 might be sufficient but just wondering if there's a better recommended​ approach?

Thanks

Oldschool
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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by Oldschool » September 9th, 2019, 10:36 am

Avid123,

Yes, fall is the most important time to apply nitrogen. I believe most members of this site use Urea as their go-to nitrogen source in the fall and for winterizing. Attached below is the “fall nitrogen regimen” article and thread. I would start by reading and understanding the theory and application.

I live in NW Montana and I have 5-6 months of snow load. This regimen works. I hope you give it a try.

Good Luck!



viewtopic.php?f=4&t=15109

Avid123
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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by Avid123 » September 13th, 2019, 9:35 am

Thanks! I read through the thread and found it very informative. Out of curiosity do people prefer urea mainly because it gives the best bang for the buck and assurance that it's all quick release N or does it have other significant advantages over the big box stuff as a winterizer. For example what would be the drawback of using something like Scotts fall 32-0-10 if it gives the appropriate amount of N/ sq ft?
(Did I mention I was a total newbie ?)
Oldschool wrote:
September 9th, 2019, 10:36 am
Avid123,

Yes, fall is the most important time to apply nitrogen. I believe most members of this site use Urea as their go-to nitrogen source in the fall and for winterizing. Attached below is the “fall nitrogen regimen” article and thread. I would start by reading and understanding the theory and application.

I live in NW Montana and I have 5-6 months of snow load. This regimen works. I hope you give it a try.

Good Luck!



viewtopic.php?f=4&t=15109

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andy10917
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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by andy10917 » September 13th, 2019, 10:39 am

Nitrogen is stored in the grasses' roots over the Winter. The products that contain Potassium are using a formula that is old, and universities have shown that it isn't the best formula for "winterizing", and a couple of studies have shown a rather strong rise in the incidence of Snow Mold when Potassium is applied in the later Fall.

Urea is generally cheaper and goes farther (roughly 2 lbs/K for Urea vs 3 lbs/K for the product you mentioned). It is also very fast-release and consumed/stored, so more applications (and more Nitrogen stored) is possible. Many members find that it isn't necessary to fertilize the following Spring until late May - this means that you're not fertilizing weeds at the same time in Spring.

Urea is a naturally-occurring substance (it's even used in animal feeds and some human foods), but is cheaper to make synthetically. The synthetic product is chemically identical to the naturally-occurring one.

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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by TimmyG » September 13th, 2019, 11:10 am

I stock up on Scotts Winterguard and Sta-Green Winterizer, both 32-0-10, when I find them being clearanced for less than I would pay for urea (price per lb of N). Both of those have a small percentage of slow-release (~6% out of 32%). Plus, my sandy soil needs a constant maintenance supply of potassium, so that's a bonus (but note that while Scotts uses SOP, Sta-Green uses MOP). But I use these only in early fall for the reasons that Andy just mentioned. For late fall and the winterizer app, I stick with pure urea. No late potassium.


Avid123
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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by Avid123 » September 23rd, 2019, 8:59 am

Thanks @andy10917 and @TimmyG.

Had another question:

I read in a few articles on organic lawn care about creating soil conditions to allow microbes to thrive in the soil and one of the recommendations was to add compost in the fall and spring and to leave grass clippings on the lawn. I've had issues with POA annua and weeds to have had to bag the clippings. So I was just wondering if I plan to apply urea in two weeks when might be a good time to add compost (if at all)?

I had sod laid in July but the person didn't add any top soil or compost etc - just rototilled and laid down the new sod.

Looking forward to any advice.

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turf_toes
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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by turf_toes » September 23rd, 2019, 12:49 pm

Avid123 wrote:
September 23rd, 2019, 8:59 am
Thanks @andy10917 and @TimmyG.

Had another question:

I read in a few articles on organic lawn care about creating soil conditions to allow microbes to thrive in the soil and one of the recommendations was to add compost in the fall and spring and to leave grass clippings on the lawn. I've had issues with POA annua and weeds to have had to bag the clippings. So I was just wondering if I plan to apply urea in two weeks when might be a good time to add compost (if at all)?

I had sod laid in July but the person didn't add any top soil or compost etc - just rototilled and laid down the new sod.

Looking forward to any advice.
I’m curious. Why did you rototill?

Avid123
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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by Avid123 » September 23rd, 2019, 1:16 pm

I hired a landscaping contractor who I thought was a professional as I knew nothing about lawns (still don't know too much but have learnt a lot since then trying to fix all the issues following his job)

My lawn was basically a write off with about 75% weeds I think, bumpy, patchy etc - so decided to get sod laid to get a nice even lawn. The guy rototilled the existing lawn, levelled with a rake and just laid new sod.

Needless to say the results didn't quite turn out splendid altho it's much better now with the help of advice here and other online forums!
turf_toes wrote:
September 23rd, 2019, 12:49 pm
Avid123 wrote:
September 23rd, 2019, 8:59 am
Thanks @andy10917 and @TimmyG.

Had another question:

I read in a few articles on organic lawn care about creating soil conditions to allow microbes to thrive in the soil and one of the recommendations was to add compost in the fall and spring and to leave grass clippings on the lawn. I've had issues with POA annua and weeds to have had to bag the clippings. So I was just wondering if I plan to apply urea in two weeks when might be a good time to add compost (if at all)?

I had sod laid in July but the person didn't add any top soil or compost etc - just rototilled and laid down the new sod.

Looking forward to any advice.
I’m curious. Why did you rototill?

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turf_toes
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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by turf_toes » September 23rd, 2019, 3:45 pm

Ok. That’s a common mistake. Generally, you should disturb the soil as little as possible. Tillng just brings dormant weed seeds to the surface and results in a lot of weeds.

Avid123
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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by Avid123 » September 23rd, 2019, 4:03 pm

Yes ive been battling a whole variety of weeds - so far just hand pulling and trying to keep the turf healthy - resisting any chemicals thus far and hoping to stay organic.

I've been advised to out down urea as a winterizer so was just wondering if compost might also be a good idea between now or winter or its not needed.

Thanks

turf_toes wrote:
September 23rd, 2019, 3:45 pm
Ok. That’s a common mistake. Generally, you should disturb the soil as little as possible. Tillng just brings dormant weed seeds to the surface and results in a lot of weeds.

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turf_toes
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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by turf_toes » September 23rd, 2019, 4:42 pm

Andy and Timmy have given you good advice. I don’t know the seasons in your area. So I don’t know if I would advise compost at this time.

Avid123
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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by Avid123 » September 23rd, 2019, 4:58 pm

Thanks - weather here in Toronto is not too different from Detroit, Michigan. We're currently having a warmer fall with daytimr temperatures in the early 70s. First frost is expected around mid October and we will likely have first snowfall in the first week of November after which we are likely to be under a white blanket until April.

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Dchall_San_Antonio
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Re: Fall Nitrogen and Organic Lawn Care

Post by Dchall_San_Antonio » October 2nd, 2019, 6:52 pm

Keep the name of that landscaping contractor handy so you don't accidentally use him again. Tilling also brings up microbes from deep in the soil and deposits them all through the soil. Same for microbes which live at the surface. The microbes will recover soon enough, but why not just leave them alone. Also, tilling destroys the soil structure of capillary openings which allow and and water into the soil to the roots. Roots are a part of that structure, so now all that's gone, too. And for the icing on that cake, a hand held rototiller cannot be controlled as to the depth of till. There will be hard spots (hills) and soft spots (holes) underneath. As the fluffy soil on top begins to settle, it immediately settles into a bumpy surface which continues getting bumpier for years. Give the soil three full years before you start to fix the bumps and depressions.

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