Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

February 25, 2009

That blasted turfgrass!!

Today's Master Gardener class was on turf grass, that's lawn to you and me, and it confirmed my fears. I have yet another project on the horizon and it's not one that my back is gonna like. You see, we have really nice gardens around our back yard. Beans grow tall into the air, tomatoes ripen into blushing beauties and herbs and flowers adorn the empty spaces. Our lawn on the other hand is abysmal!

Our Master Gardener instructor made a great joke a while back during our "soils" class, that here in Utah we "grow a lot of basements". It's true too! It's the rare home here that doesn't have at least a half basement, and even rarer still that a newer home like ours not have a full one. So...what does that have to do with crappy lawns? Well when they dig out the basements, all that subsoil (subsoil being the nearly inert, lifeless soil that lies beneath the life giving topsoil.) that was in the whole gets spread out all over the yard before the new owners close on the home and that's what you get to work with! Oh don't worry about all the top soil that WAS in the yard before the building process starts, it doesn't get wasted by burying it under all that subsoil. Oh no, long before they subdivide and put in roads and utilities they scrap off and sell all the top soil to guys like me who bought a house with nothing but friggin' clayey subsoil.

Ok ok, no complaining...Doesn't do any good anyway right? The point of the whole darn rant is this. I promised A~ I'd spend some time getting our back lawn in order this year and I've determined what I need to do. Till. Over the years that we've been here, I've aerated every year, tried metering my irrigation to allow it to soak better, applied organic urea fertilizers but nothing does a thing. The ground's just too hard from the compaction of the clay heavy sub-soil. What I'll be doing this year is to lightly till in a copious amount of compost to the ground and then over seed the whole thing.

I know I'm gonna get people thinking why not "liberate" my lawn and just garden the whole thing? I am...slowly. The thing is I have a family, kids and all. It'd be incredibly selfish of me to just want to garden the whole thing with no regard to them. Perhaps one day, but not now.

So, add to the list "re-do entire back yard lawn" somewhere between "expand garden beds to front parking area" and "build solar greenhouse". Oh, my...I better get exercising, I'm gonna need it!

Till next time.


Anonymous said...

Energy bars too!! We live in the south,we have clay,and we have difficulty growing grass in some spots. I look forward to gleaning any help offered! Do you have any solar power for your family/home?? This is also something we are really interested in learning about. Thanks for what you do here to help others.tp

Kory said...

I'm in a similar situation with the desire to turn under the turf for gardening...but the contrary need of the wife and kids to have a, well in a word...lawn.

Look at it this way, when you do turn that turfgrass into garden, the soil will have a head start. Have you tried seeding with comfrey? Rob over at onestraw started with some pretty awful soil, and after growing comfrey as a cover crop and composting it, the soil improved noticeably.

Chiot's Run said...

We also have this challenge only add in a ton of rocks, no tilling here, it has to be done by hand.

Sounds like you're going to be fit as a fiddle after all that summer work!

I also use comfrey like Kory to improve my soil, perhaps a year of a cover crop like clover would help, or perhaps if you mix some clover in with your grass seed it will help draw up nutrients for your grass. Not to mention white or red clover looks lovely mixed in with grass. I plan on planting some in my front lawn this year for the beneficial insects and to improve the soil. When I finally take back my front lawn for gardening the soil will be ready!

Anonymous said...

When we lived in Salt Lake we had a similar problem. I am not a lawn person but we had no intention of living in that house forever. As you probably know most people in Utah are lawn people, so I wanted to keep some of the lawn for resale.

I decided to order some "illegal" chickens. When they were old enough to go outside I put them in a tractor on the worst part of the lawn and didn't move them until they had removed most of the grass (about a week). Then I moved them to the next spot. I'd water the bare spot and let it set over night. The next day I got my spading fork out and turned the soil (with the chickens there to eat all the worms). Then I would rake the patch level, sprinkle seed, and cover with a light layer of compost. By fall the whole backyard was done. It looked so great that I wished I could have done the front. Since we were not supposed to have chickens I thought it would be a bad idea. But, I got an organic "back" lawn for the price of seed. Plus a lot of free chicken feed.

Just thought I would throw that out there since you have chickens (and they are legal).


Eva said...

oooo-weeeee, you've got your work cut-out for you! Best of Luck...

We have 2 young children, so I totally agree with 'needing' some lawn for them to play on.

sheila said...

Why not just turn the lawn into more gardeing space rather than waste the water,energy, and tools on keeping a lawn green?

Country Girl said...

We had lots of clay in our last home and my husband added lots of sand & manure to it along with frequent tilling as you said (esp after heavy rain). ~Kim