A topdressing with compost is a great way to begin the process of refurbishing an aging and abused lawn. A little bit, just a quarter inch, spread and raked into a grassy area provides nutrients and introduces beneficial soil organisms. My husband took on this job for a high traffic area of our lawn. Unfortunately, the task involved a bit more work than anticipated, making it the topic of my Gardening Oops – GOOPs – post for May 2012.
I believe that all gardeners make mistakes. If you are out there playing with plants you are bound to forget something, mis-plant something, or have a gardener’s brain freeze that results in a GOOPs. I also believe too many people refrain from trying an idea or a new task because they are afraid of making a mistake. But if we, as gardeners, admit and share mistakes we might make new gardeners … or even each other … more comfortable with investigating the activity of growing plants.
My GOOPs this month is about purchased compost.
I make compost … as much as I possibly can. I use it in vegetable and ornamental beds and mix it into planting medium for container plants. But I have yet to make enough compost to meet all our needs, nor have I met another gardener able to do so. This forces compost users to seek other, preferably local, sources of quality compost for tasks like topdressing a lawn.
Our lawn has taken a beating over the last few years and is screaming for our attention. Lawn is not the top priority in our landscape – we tend toward the easiest form of lawn care, but we do want what’s there to be healthy. So my husband found a local compost source, paid his money, and brought a pick-up truck load of compost home.
Compost for topdressing lawn should be screened to a quarter-inch or less. Do you see the larger chunks of material in this blend? These are not clumps of soil. Take a closer look.
This is the size of the partially composted material we had to hand screen, one wheelbarrow at a time, from the truckload.
This is the method I use to screen all the compost I make for my gardens, but I do small batches at a time. This job required hand screening a truck load of compost all at once, and getting it spread before ensuing rain.
The lesson here? Either make sure the compost you are purchasing has been processed through 1/4 inch screen or be prepared to do the job yourself.
Do you have a GOOPs to share? Don’t be shy. Tell your tale in a comment below or share your GOOPs on your own blog and leave a teaser below.
I’ve declared the first of each month GOOPs day at joene’s garden. Here’s a peek at past GOOPs. I hope you’ll join the GOOPs party. If you’ve not had a gardening faux pas you’ve not gardened hard enough.
For more information on organic lawn care peruse the information provided by the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s organic land care website. You may find Introduction to OLC particularly useful. You can even download a free copy of NOFA’s Introduction to Organic Lawns and Yards.
Garden thoughtfully … may my GOOPs prevent your GOOPs.