Frugal Lawncare – Part I

Frugal Lawncare – Part I

Well after my go around with the chemlawn guy I think his salespitch actually started working, although not necessarily in his favor. Basically what he got me doing was thinking about my lawn and well my pride as a past golf course worker started to get the best of me. Certainly I was still not delerious enough to actually pay the guy loads of money to spray some crap on my lawn so that it would look good for a week or two until I’d have to have him come back and spray again. It did however make me delerious enough to actually care about my lawn.

So I started down the path of researching how to care for my lawn. Houses IMO are just a bad excuse to waste lots of money on crap you would never think about if you were renting and well lawncare/landscaping is probably towards the top of the list. So in my research I wanted to accomplish two things (1) Find as cheap as solution as possible (2) End up with a lawn that I didn’t have to worry whether or not it was safe for my 11 month old to play in the yard.

Now granted I am still a complete novice and don’t have a ton to show for my efforts yet at this point, but I did run across a bunch of very usefull information that has me optimistic that I can accompliish both of my goals. Turns out that organic lawncare provides a safe and natural way to care for your lawn and if you do a little homework you can get the supplies and peform the work for signifigantly less than purchasing a store bought chemical fertilizer/herbicide. I’ll probably just give you a high level overview and get into the details in other series of posts (yeah I know my realistic rate of return series is incomplete – just been having too much fun enjoying the summer weather and spending time with the family)

Basically what I did was found out that there are lots of common vegetables/beans that if left to break down on your yard will provide your lawn with all the N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosporous, Potassium) it needs.  Some of the common organic fertilizers used are crack corn, corn meal, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, alfalfa meal, etc.  The other great thing about organic fertilizers besides being safe and cheap, are that you don’t have to worry about over fertlizing your lawn and burning it or making sure to do it early in the morning or late at night so that your grass doesn’t get killed.  Plus from what I’ve read the food your lawn gets from organic fertilizers is much better for it than the chemical fertilizers (I believe someone compared chemical fertilizers to soda for humans – just a bunch of empty calories that over the long run aren’t the best for the plant).

Anyway I went ahead and put soybean meal down on my lawn.  Got it from the local feed meal at 100lbs for $13 and was able to put it on my lawn with a normal lawn spreader.  For those that don’t know “meal” basically is what’s left after the original plant/bean was cut/processed.  So its all of the slivers, shavings, crumbs left on the bottom of the processing machine.  They bag this up and its traditionally used to feed barn yard animals.

The only real negative is that the stuff doesn’t kick in over night.  It typically takes about a month before the process comes full cycle and you see the results in your lawn.  Well it’s been about a month and I can honestly say that my lawn is much greener, thicker, and growing much faster than my neighbors on either side and I know one of the neighbors used some chemical fertilizer earlier this spring.

Anyway I just wanted to give you a general idea of what I am up to, I’ll try to give you some more details in the next series of posts.

  • What rate do you apply the soybean meal to your lawn….Lbs/sq. ft?….certain number on a Scotts spreader?….100# does the average size lot of say 1/4 acre???

    Do you know if an excessive application can damage the lawn like a chemical fertilizer will?

    Thanks for your advice and help

  • My Financial Journey

    Harry –

    As far as rate I can get you a more precise answer, but essentially 10lbs per 1000sq ft is pretty much what you can use.

    As far as overapplication this is the great part about using organic products such as soybeans…you cannot burn your lawn like you can with chemical fertilizers. Short of piling on so much that the grass is covered and can’t get sunlight you really have nothing to worry about.

    Organic fertilizers break down slower and basically your lawn only uses as much as it needs, where as chemical fertilizers are more like an IV injection and if you overdo it you will burn/kill the plant.

    Also unlike chemical fertilizers you can apply anytime of the day and don’t have to worry about the sun overheating your lawn and burning it.

    I will find a couple pages that explain this better and give breakdowns of the nitrogen levels in various types of organic fertilizers so that you can know exactly what application rates you want to use, but like I said earlier you don’t have to worry too much about over doing it. General rule is you want about 10 parts nitrogen per 1000 sq ft….I believe soybeans have 9 parts nitrogen per 1lb, but I’ll look that up for you.

  • A small local feed store will sell me a 50# sack of soybean meal for $13.00. That is an improvement over the sacks of chemicals, but not by a whole lot.

    So, now you’ll have to come up with an organic solution for the other chemical, weed control……lol

    Thank you.

  • Hmm I can get #100 for about $13.00

    As far as weeds that is one area where I’m trying to fine tune the organic approach….they say to mow your grass high and the grass will win out if it is healthy, but I’m seeing some evidence to the contrary. There are individual sprays you can make with Vinagar to kill stuff, but as far as a natural preemergent there isn’t really a silver bullet.

    Supposably Corn Gluten Meal (different than plain Corn Meal) can somewhat accomplish this as it prevents seeds from sprouting while also providing a good source of nitrogen to your lawn, but basically you can expect to wait becaus that method basically wipes out weeds by preventing their children from spawning.

    Anyway its still a learning process for me, but if you can get Soybean meal at a rate closer to mine it makes a good cheap effective fertilizer, I may mix in some chemical weed killer until I figure out how to properly fend off those organically…..I’ve tried hand pulling but thats nothing more than good exercise and the weeds are winning that battle right now.

Comments are closed.