Grass! It's a wonderful thing to lay in the grass and look up at the sky!
Until this weekend, there have only been a few tufts of grass on my property. Most of the landscaping is river rock and mulch. But there was one area of dirt that I have had my eye on for grass, and on Friday it finally happened!
With some (okay, a lot) of help from my sister, we laid patio stones (for a fire pit), pounded in metal edging, and hauled and laid 50 rolls of sod (transported in two trips in the back of my Santa Fe).
Viola! Instant lawn!
Padfoot was quite interested in the goings-on... although he preferred supervising from on top of the rolls of sod still in the back of the car (sorry, I was too dirty and tired to think about getting a picture of it, you'll have to take my word for how adorable it was) or playing in the dirt. Silly puppy didn't want to be on the grass until we were almost done.
In keeping with my desire to be as chemical/pesticide/fertilizer free as possible, I did some research about grass to find out my best option. A quick internet search revealed: There probably isn't such a thing as organic sod, or if it does exist, it would be WAY more expensive. It's possible that sod contains significantly lower amounts of chemicals than I was expecting. While dogs do eat grass, they eat little of it. It would be unlikely that a little grass eaten from a non-organic lawn would be a problem unless I regularly put chemicals on it (which I don't plan on doing). It appears to be possible to get organic grass seed (about $40 to cover 1000 square feet), but I still had questions about what they put in the seed mixes. There was not a huge price difference between any sod company, especially for the small amount of ground I needed to cover (about 500 square feet). So then I was faced with the question... do I just get sod (and take whatever chemicals may be included) or do I get seed so I can get an organic yard? The decision may seem very black and white...the only option for organic grass is seed. So you may think that of course my choice was seed. But first I had to factor in what I call "the reality of life."
Here is my reality of life:
I am not very good at watering and there is no sprinkler system. If I did seed, the chances of needing to re-seed at least once are high. This adds more time and money. I would have to research if I needed fertilizer or other additions to make my seed grow, and then pick from the available options. It is now the middle of summer. I was planning on doing grass right when I got so sick two months ago. Now it's July. If I want to enjoy a lawn this summer, sod would be faster. My landlord sprays for weeds. He is spraying less with me here (I'm pulling weeds as much as I can), but the ground already has years of stored chemicals in it. It's not organic soil. I've never seeded, but I have laid sod. My brain can only handle so many new things to learn at one time. And learning how to raise an organic lawn didn't feel like the correct focus for me right now. If I sod, I can immediately put up and use the clothesline I bought a month ago (this truly factored in to my thought process, I love line-hung clothes, and I don't have an electric drier).
So I decided to buy sod.
From Home Depot. I paid with a credit card. I picked it up and put it in the back of my car. You can't get any less alternative than that. But my goal is not to be alternative. My goal is to be healthy, and to make conscious choices. I really want an all-organic yard. And one day I hope I can. But right now (and in the future) I need to make the best of what I've been given. Maybe I could have succeeded in an organic grass seed lawn. Maybe. But I want to do other things with that time. Things that feel more important right now. Because taking time away from important things to do something "perfect" isn't better.
My plan for making this grass as healthy as possible:
#1 No more chemicals!
I'm sure there have been some chemicals on this grass, but that stops now! Any "fertilizers" will be food-based (like old milk or yogurt, or the Green Pastures product below). Any weeds will be extracted by hand, providing me with sunshine and some light exercise.
#2 Add back microbes and nutrients!
I purchased a by-product of fermented cod liver oil from Green Pastures called Liquid Fish Soil Rescue to re-vitalize my soil. I actually meant to put some in the ground right before we laid the sod but I couldn't (reality of life check: I was not strong enough to open the container, my neighbor-with-all-the-tools was gone, and I don't own a pipe wrench). So later (when I get it open) I will spread it over the top of the grass. It will be a little fishy for a day, but fish oils smell is not new to me!
#3 Water to encourage deep roots!
It's recommended to water sod frequently at first, but to still let it become just a little dry to encourage the roots to reach down and establish. Here in Colorado we are having 90 degree days, so I'm needing to water 1-2x/day, and the grass is still getting a little dry in between waterings. Soon I will be able to water less often, and next year I should be able to water once every 2-5 days.
You don't have to do everything perfect.
Sometimes the "best choice" is outside your budget for money or time, and sometimes there are circumstances that happen outside of your control.
That's okay... it's normal. That's life. And today, life is good!