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Old 04-13-2015, 05:45 PM   #1
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Now I have some weeds


Spring looks like it has arrived. I noticed on my lawn in some spots I have little flower weeds. Not to mention ten million clovers. I have maybe an inch of topsoil then under that is gravel, clay that takes a pick axe to get through. I will not use any chemicals on my lawn. What I am hoping exists is some sort of liquid I can spray over the whole lawn that will keep the weeds down. The company that did the lawn before me would spray this weed recede tea over the whole lawn. Seems to work at least a little. All I can find is people telling me to spray vinegar on the weeds. That is a bit much, but maybe that is what I will do. Anyone know of an organic way to control the weeds? Been trying to thicken up my grass but it is a long process.
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Old 04-14-2015, 10:46 AM   #2
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MJ, your clover could actually be considered an asset; clovers (as well as buckwheat, ryes, and others) are used for green manure by organic gardeners. Clover doesn't bloom that long so the pretty little flowers will likely soon be gone, especially in our area (I'm just North of you).

What you can do with the clovers:

Leave them be - the pollinators, especially bees, will enjoy them.

Mow them, leave the clippings on the grass. Eventually they'll decompose and enrich the soil.

If you have children, let them pick the clover and stems, then create a little bouquet in the house. Or put the stems in some water and leave them outside for the pollinators.

Again, if you have children, let them pick the clover and dry it between paper. Put it in a scrapbook, use it for homemade cards, or mat it. it doesn't dry as well as some flowers, but it's an experiment for children in making their own decorative designs.

Actually, allowing the clover to just lie fallow after mowing might be the better option because you really need more than just 1 inch of topsoil, especially over clay. Rather than try to manually dig up the lawn and underlying clay to add topsoil or compost, try using coffee grounds and let the worms do the work.

If you're not a coffee drinker, you can get free grounds from Starbucks. Sprinkle the grounds here and there so there aren't big piles that might make your lawn unsightly. Here's a decent site on how worms improve soil: http://compost.css.cornell.edu/worms/faq.html

I've used vinegar spray to kill weeds, but it does take repeated efforts and isn't the most efficient way to eliminate them. Are the other flowers you mentioned really weeds, or are they wildflowers? And more than likely they'll bloom in the spring, then recede so they won't be flowering all season long.
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Old 04-14-2015, 06:28 PM   #3
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The other advantage to clover it helps fix nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is good .
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Old 04-14-2015, 09:37 PM   #4
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All Clover are good? I think I have black medic. The little flowers are I believe chickweed. Which I have read is a sign my soil is improving. If it was up to me I would not even cut my grass. People are so conditioned to believe lawns must be perfect. After the grass is cut in the spring it looks great. Weeds or no weeds.
My neighbors is like the king of lawn care in the neighborhood. It was funny, I overheard the two neighbors talking about how my lawn is starting to look better than his. It is that corn gluten that greens up my lawn. The king's lawn is all burn't and looks awful. How you like all those chemicals now.
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Old 04-14-2015, 11:01 PM   #5
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You must be pretty good at identifying the clover; I've never even heard of black medic but found some decent information on it: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/WEEDS/black_medic.html

I don't disagree with you about the perceived need to cut grass. In my perhaps biased opinion, more mowing increases my carbon footprint and costs me more money. But fortunately or unfortunately, some communities are obsessed with mowed lawns because of their appearance.

Chickweed has medicinal properties; perhaps you could use for that purpose?
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Old 04-15-2015, 01:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mj12 View Post
It is that corn gluten that greens up my lawn.
Like you, I steer away from chemicals. Here in New England, I use pellitized Lime (we get the acid rain from the whole country to our west!), Milorganite and heavily overseed Spring and Fall. Most folks on my street used Scotts 4 step, or had Tru Chem. After 4 years, my lawn was the best on the street, and they started asking me what I use, how much, how often etc. (I've lived here 15 years, now)

What is the corn gluten you refer to? Not used that and want to investigate more!

Was going to say the clover is fine, gives much needed nitrogen, but I see someone already addressed this.
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Old 04-15-2015, 01:51 PM   #7
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Lawns are not natural so if you want a pristine monocultural show piece you will need to break out the toxic stuff. No ifs ands or buts on that. But you can get very similar looking results by selecting several different varieties of grass that do well in your climate and mixing them in with symbiotic plants like clover. The right combination will choke out just about anything else that may be blowing through. When I was a kid there was no such thing as a lawn treatment. Our yard was 60% white clover and 40% mixed fescue. It was indestructible.
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Old 04-15-2015, 08:50 PM   #8
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The clover fixes nitrogen. Years ago, clover seeds would be included in a good grass seed mix! Let it be.

My theory is to focus on healthy grass and it will crowd out the weeds:

Lab test the soil. Mow high. Mow often. Sharp mower blade. 1 inch of water per week. Top dress the soil. Aerate. Overseed the lawn with a more robust cultivar. Apply organic fertilizer.

Then you can hit the weeds with vinegar or just yank 'em out.
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Old 04-15-2015, 09:07 PM   #9
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I have looked into the medicinal properties of the weeds. Been only two years since the chemical people left. Probably will not eat the chickweed.


The corn gluten is 9% nitrogen so by itself is a very good fertilizer. The way the gluten works is it dehydrates the seeds of crabgrass. Timing is very important. I buy it locally.
A different product i use is called Aerify-PLUS
http://www.amazon.com/Aerify-PLUS-Li.../dp/B00CD444YE


It may well just be baby shampoo but it really works to help my yard drain. I sprayed it last year and this was the first time I can remember my yard actually drained.


The chemical vs organic debate comes down to money. Hard to beat cheap chemicals. The end results are the same. Chemicals are for the average homeowner that wants to blanket cover the yard and get good results. Organic is for someone with more experience that wants to take the time and work and give the soil what it needs. From my two years of using organic, my yard is really starting to look good. As I further study lawn care I realize people have been sold a bunch of products they do not really need for a healthy lawn.

Last edited by mj12; 04-15-2015 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 04-17-2015, 10:57 PM   #10
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mj12, I'm interested to learn more about your results with corn gluten. I've seen university studies that didn't show great results. How long have you been applying and how would you rate your success? Thanks
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Old 04-18-2015, 07:09 PM   #11
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This will be the second year applying corn gluten. I applied it in all my flower beds and within hours the birds ate it all. I admit I am one sided because there is no way I will use chemicals with my kids and wife in the yard. And the fact that my wife will not let me use anything chemical.
The one thing I noticed for sure is the pretty green color of my yard. In and of itself corn gluten is a good fertilizer. It is expensive to do a large yard like mine. Right now I want to overseed my grass and redo some bare spots. But the fact that I am using corn gluten means the grass seeds should not sprout. I believe their is a six week window of when you can replant.
Going from chemical to natural means I did not have any weeds to fight off, which I understand can take a few years using only natural products. The key to corn gluten is when to apply it, ground temp must be right. I have read way more than an average person should read about lawn care. As my lawn progresses to good soil structure and a thick lawn I do not see the need to even use corn gluten, just for the fact of how expensive it is.
As for professionally using gluten the problem I would have is as soon as the forsythias bloom everyone is going to want that gluten down. Might be hard to get the timing down on a large scale
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Old 04-19-2015, 12:18 AM   #12
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Thank you for the info mj12. We professionally treat lawns in the most responsible manner possible and continuously seek lower impact products. Unfortunately, organic often comes with challenges.
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Old 04-20-2015, 10:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mj12 View Post
This will be the second year applying corn gluten. I applied it in all my flower beds and within hours the birds ate it all. I admit I am one sided because there is no way I will use chemicals with my kids and wife in the yard. And the fact that my wife will not let me use anything chemical.
The one thing I noticed for sure is the pretty green color of my yard. In and of itself corn gluten is a good fertilizer. It is expensive to do a large yard like mine. Right now I want to overseed my grass and redo some bare spots. But the fact that I am using corn gluten means the grass seeds should not sprout. I believe their is a six week window of when you can replant.
Going from chemical to natural means I did not have any weeds to fight off, which I understand can take a few years using only natural products. The key to corn gluten is when to apply it, ground temp must be right. I have read way more than an average person should read about lawn care. As my lawn progresses to good soil structure and a thick lawn I do not see the need to even use corn gluten, just for the fact of how expensive it is.
As for professionally using gluten the problem I would have is as soon as the forsythias bloom everyone is going to want that gluten down. Might be hard to get the timing down on a large scale
Back in the 60's my parents used all natural weed control in the garden and flower beds. It was us kids. Turns out forced labor is a more effective punishment than the belt.
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