Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Simple Suggestion #127... Fertilize your lawn with compost (or The Great Compost Experiment)

This spring, I looked out at the grass on our boulevardes and noticed something really interesting. There was a definite line of demarcation between our property, where the grass was greener, and our neighbours' properties. I was puzzled about that, until I remembered that my husband had top-dressed the boulevardes with compost to the property lines. Hmmm.

When we built our raised garden beds a few weeks ago, we had some compost/soil mix left over, so we top-dressed the patch of lawn under our pear tree, to make it happy. Since then, the grass there has been growing like crazy, needing mowing twice as often as everywhere else. Of course, it's the shadiest part of our yard, too, and the grass always seems to grow faster there.

So I decided to do a compost experiment on two equivalent sections of lawn. They get full sun most of the day, and they're Julia's soccer space. On June 8th, I added compost to the grass on the right side of the sidewalk and raked it in.

On Friday, June 22nd, I tried to take pictures to show that the right side was longer than the left. It's also greener than the left. Unfortunately, the photo doesn't quite do it justice... and Lee mowed before I could get a better picture.


The left picture below is the untreated side of the yard, and the right is the side that was top-dressed. Can you see the difference? The right is definitely greener, and though you can't really tell from the photo, it's also longer.

My friend, Mark, the Super Master Composter, tells me
Because the carbon in compost will continue to break down over time, topdressing every year with about 1cm of compost is very beneficial. Generally, the ratio is one-third compost, but this amount would overwhelm a lawn, so regular, light applications is the way to go. 
If the soil is quite depleted, topdress three times a year, or core aerate in autumn and apply a double shot of compost to topdress plus fill the plugs. 


So, there you have it. If you want to fertilize your lawn the natural, slow-release way that won't cause chemical burn or make animals sick, compost will do the trick! I applied about a quarter inch of compost, sprinkling it around
with a shovel and raking it in.

Have a happy lawn!

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions?
Try here.

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