Jessica Walliser
September 15, 2011

Grass lawn with swingset and a bordering garden and wooden fence
Photo by Jessica Walliser
For the first time, we will need to fertilize our lawn.

I spent the morning mowing the lawn. It’s a beautiful day here, and even riding the mower was a pleasure. I don’t often write about my lawn because I really don’t care that much about it. I’m not one of those people who think of the lawn as part of the garden. We don’t really do much to it except mow. Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of a lush, green, well-maintained lawn, but I don’t think a person needs to spend time and money to have that. It’s not worth it to me, I guess. I don’t mind some weeds in my lawn and the clippings that fall when we mow have always seemed to provide enough nitrogen to feed our lawn and keep us fertilizer free. But now we have a problem that might change that.

When the landscaper installed our retaining wall and gardens and re-graded the backyard, subsoil was brought up and spread around to level part of the lawn. As you may know, said subsoil has almost no organic matter in it, is very low in nutrients, and can contain weed seeds. So in the area where the landscapers dumped most of the subsoil, the new grass is growing, but it’s very sparse, very short and very yellow. Signs of improper growing conditions for sure. You can see a line in the new grass between where the soil is decent and where it isn’t, though none of it is doing great.

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Looking back, I should have foreseen this problem when we planted the seed and spread some organic granular fertilizer then. But I didn’t, so now I have another project to tack on my long list of fall garden chores: Fertilize the lawn. Never thought I’d need to say that, as my lawn has always looked good (albeit a bit weedy) and stays green nearly all summer long (the benefits of having longer roots that have to go out and get their own nutrients and water).

Of course, I don’t have a walk-behind drop spreader because I’ve never had to use one. I’m hoping one of the neighbors will let me borrow theirs. I’m also hoping that I’ll only have to do this for a season or two until the new lawn becomes as self sufficient as the old.

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