The Lawn Coach: Tree Huggers Unite

The Lawn Coach
Tree Huggers Unite

Q: CJ, Hello and thank you for being so helpful with mine and the others that write in terror over our newly (3 months old) sodded yard and the many problems we face in the different parts of the country with them. I've noticed a few brown circles in my yard since I mowed it last. The sod has been down for about 3 months now and I have only mowed it 3 times. I also see that the blades look torn telling me my mower blade needs to be sharpened. Anyways CJ I have been reading your many other questions on your site and I really do believe I have Dollar or Yellow Spot. I have been reading up on organics, and I'd like to use an organic approach, but I don't know what's best to use. Thanks,
David U
Orlando, Fl
A: Hi David,
As I go into this question with an eye on organics, I hesitate for fear that somebody somewhere will be annoyed. While I'm all in support of an organic approach, there are approximately seven hundred and thirty three thousand (give or take a whole bunch) organic products that make claims to perform in ways they really can't. These are essentially the modern equivalent of snake oil, and I admonish everybody to beware. There are also many very good organic products, so don't be dissuaded by the prevalence of shysters.
The modern organic method is actually far simpler than you might realize. It is also much different then the approach taken with more emphasis on chemical control. Let me give you a bit of a recent history lesson as it pertains to organics.
At some point in time, some folks decided chemicals were bad and with good reason. They looked at a regular chemical based program and systematically replaced the chemicals with organic alternatives. They then labeled this new revolutionary approach "Organic Lawn Care." Unfortunately, most of these alternatives really didn't work, so the lawns looked awful. Over lots of time, study, and many cans of over caffeinated energy drinks, they finally realized that a completely different approach was needed. Here it is in a nutshell, but not in any particular order.
A) Balance fertility and water to the best of your ability.
Amend the soil as necessary.
C) Pick the appropriate grass species for your region.
D) Let nature take its course.
Re-seed or sod anything that dies.
Make sure the lawn gets ample sunlight.
Many organic approaches to specific problems tend to be a siren song. They usually provide little quantifiable control, and you'd be wise not to be drawn in by their lure. Organic fertilizers are great. Organic claims to control weeds and/or diseases usually fall way short. Just feed the lawn, make the growing environment as ideal as possible, and roll with the punches. Will you get weeds? Absolutely. Is that the end of the world? I'd say no, but you're free to disagree.
I think it's great that you want to go organic, but do it with the right approach in mind. Don't try to control everything. Just roll with it and repair whatever needs to be repaired. Pick up a few pieces of sod, cut out those areas that you are sure are dead, and re-sod them. Over time problems will arise. You can't control them all, but you CAN repair the damage. If you worry over every brown spot, you'll end up pulling your hair out.

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