Monday, November 2, 2009

Manual labor clears your head, right?

So the evil aerator went back to its evil hidey-hole. Where it will stay, if all goes well. It's the best piece of news I've received yet during this insane experiment: organic lawns don't need aeration.

Chemical lawns need aeration to punch through the thatch – the dense, matted layer of dead grass at the root level. Thatch isn't an issue in an organic lawn for the same reason it's not an issue in a meadow or forest. According to Tukey, et al., An organic lawn is comfy and cozy for a multitude of creatures that eat and process the stuff that falls down to the roots. Earthworms, in particular, eat the soil and organic matter, process it in their guts and poop out perfectly formulated compost from the other end. Nature is a wonderful thing, when left alone to do its bidding.

So I won't be doing any aeration anytime in my future. Woo-hoo!

That's not to say I am finished with equally back-breaking forays to the land of manual labor. Even though organic lawns make their own compost, they don't make quite enough. The only bit of vegetable matter the lawn gets to process is mulched grass clippings and the volume of organic matter just isn't what nature is used to. Think of the woods, where years' worth of leaves, bark, pine needles and other dead things pile up to great depths of rich humus.

So to give the grass farm what it's craving, you have to add compost in the fall. It's step one of fall maintenance for the organic lawn, before seeding and liming, if you need it. Since we're going cold turkey off the grass drugs, I figure I'd better follow the rules. So I buy compost by the yard now.

Lots of yards, it turns out.

It's a straightforward process. You rake out the old, dead stuff with a bamboo rake, dump the compost on the lawn by wheelbarrow loads and spread it around with an bow rake or a landscape rake if you can get your hands on one.

I think I've bought and spread 12 yards so far and we ain't done yet. It's excruciating work, the kind of work that makes you want to put a bullet in your head. Rake. Shovel. Dump. Rake. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

While the neighbors look at you like you've gone completely mental. Which, of course, you have.

1 comment:

  1. Just discovered your blog. I am a green innkeeper and went to a talk this week about organic land care, which I already try to do. I will have to invest in a truck load of compost for my lawn. I actually do not like having a lawn, but since there is one, best make it look as good as possible. The garden is a lot of work, but it is rewarding to see the results, don't you think?