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Large weedy meadow


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Windyacre
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PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2009 9:14 pm    Post subject: Large weedy meadow Reply with quote

Hello all,
I have about 3/4 acre of agricultural grass with loads of weeds. I am currently cutting and mulching (recently purchased ride-on mower) and hoping that by doing this I can reduce the weeds substancially.
I was told that by spreading fertiliser, I will increase the growth so I am hoping that the grass will smother the weeds (maybe this is a mad idea!).
So I went out and got three 50kg bags of 10-10-20, but I was actually looking for 18-6-12 to use. Before I start spreading, I need some advice on this idea, am I making a big mistake? Will the weeds take over? Any advice welcome.
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Sean Ph'lib
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PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2009 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First of all, what do you intend to use the meadow for?
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2009 11:23 pm    Post subject: fertilizer for grass and grass growing in general Reply with quote

Your choice of fertilizer is perfect for strengtening up the 'weeds' in your plot, most of which I'd suspect are not 'invasive' or 'undesirable'. What I'd have done was let the grass grow unchecked until it passes for hay. All the grass seeds would fall back to the soil. With any bit of luck most of them would germinate and next year you'd have a grand sward. As the grass grew to hay it would choke daisies and plantains and would tend to inhibit dandelion. Ragwort needs to be pulled by hand and dock is best killed by selective.
This advice is by neccessity tentative cause I don't have a list of the weeds on your site. If you had asked the question in March I'd have suggested a selective weedkiller sprayed on at low strength and repeated in April. I'd then have put down high-nitrogen fertilizer. Your 10-10-20 is for crop growing. For grassland you need granulated or prilled urea which is about 45% nitrogen.

Another way to strengthen grass is to broadcast clover seed. Clover is synergic with grass as it fixes nitrogen in the soil and the grass uses the nitrogen. Another trick is to put sheep grazing on it or tethered goats. The goats will clear every herb down to ground level and might even produce milk unless they are billys. Would you be able to figure the difference?

The ride on is a mixed blessing. You can cut and mulch all you like, but daises, dandelions and plaintains get a memory of the cut height and grow back to just under that height.

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Last edited by walltoall on Sun May 24, 2009 9:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Windyacre
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sean Ph'lib wrote:
First of all, what do you intend to use the meadow for?

Hello Sean Ph'lib, I would like the meadow to be relatively free of weeds, it will never be lawn standard because it was used for grazing cattle before the house was built about 4 years ago. At the moment I have plenty of broad-leaved docks, buttercups, dandelions, diasys, clover, thistles and worst of all, ribwort plantains. If I could get rid of these and then by cutting and mulching every 5 days, it wouldnt look too bad.
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Windyacre
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 4:34 pm    Post subject: Re: fertilizer for grass and grass growing in general Reply with quote

[quote="walltoall"]Your choice of fertilizer is perfect for strengtening up the 'weeds' in your plot, most of which I'd suspect are not 'invasive' or 'undesirable'. .

Hello walltoall, thanks for all that information. I wasnt sure what I was doing so I will return the 10-10-20. I did let the area grow last summer and then a local farmer came in and got 4 round bales from it. I could let it grow again as you suggest but what do I then do with the grand sward.
You also mentioned a selective weedkiller but in March so is it too late to do this? I have a bag of Triple Action Lawn feed weed & mosskiller for my front lawn. It contains traces of dicamba and mecoprop-P as weedkillers and ferrous sulphate as a mosskiller. The fertiliser analysis is 10-2-4.
I should have mentioned my many weeds, they are broad-leaved docks, buttercups, dandelions, clover, daisys, thistles and the biggest offender "ribwort plantain". So, should I replace the 10-10-20 bags with the selective weedkiller bags and spread this instead?
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi WindyAcre,
Like Sean'phlib, I'm against weedkiller (and for that matter insecticides and fungicides) in principle, but if you have 3/4 acre you need to be practical. All weedkillers affect wildlife and my March rule is so as to hit the 'weeds' at their most vulnerable, just as they are beginning to grow. Generally in March, the creepie crawlies and the buzzy-wuzzys are not fully up to speed. Ladybirds will take another month to fall out of the scratcher. If you had hay cut last year the nice farmer probably also took the seed with the hay. And fair dues, there's a lot of good in the seed! But your meadow did not get re-seeded.

As for your challenge, it looks like you want to have the wild meadow without the wild. And why not? But if that is true, why feed it with expensive fertilizer? If you want lawn, well than why not go for lawn? Use the ride-on as often as you can and spray selective halfway between cuts. You can even be VERY selective using a handsprayer and zap only exactly what 'weeds' you don't like.

We are still back to Sean Ph'libs perceptive question. "What do you want to achieve" You are not really addressing that question. As for the bluebells you mentioned earlier, they only grow [properly ] in shade, in decid. woodland. Maybe you need to plant native decid. and allow it to GO native, but with paths of green sward through it? Long project but you may get a lovely result? Ann you can include apples in the mix if you like.

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Windyacre
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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi walltoall,
What I want to achieve is to have the meadow looking somewhat like a lawn (probably from a distance). If I could get rid of the majority of weeds in favour of more grass, I would be happy enough with it. At present I am cutting approximatly every 5 days which is the normal cutting time when mulching. You advised to spray selective halfway between cuts, so could I use the previously mentioned "Triple Action lawn feed weed and mosskiller" 2 days after cutting. Do you think by doing this for a couple of weeks will it get rid of some of my weeds?
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 11:53 am    Post subject: Large weedy meadow Reply with quote

The reason for applying selective weedkiller in between cuttings is that the poison is not totally selective. It has minimal effect on healthy grasses, but it does have an effect and that is why certain lawn treatments have selective weedkillers and lawn feed tumbled together. If I remember rightly moss hates iron so the triple mix probably includes Fe in sequestered form.

Just after cutting you make the grass blades vulnerable through their cut ends. So any selective should be applied with this in mind. The problem with spraying indiscriminately in your situation is that selective weedkillers will attack all plants with broad leaves. Most of us are very pleased to get rid of broadleaf dock, but it has it's uses. Ragwort is noxious and the law of Ireland bans its growth, surprise surprise you can be prosecuted for allowing it to flourish. But where do you draw the line? Vetches? Bloody cranesbill? Clovers? Meadowsweet? Nettles? Horseradish?

Clover will be killed by selective administered indiscriminately. However, in its growing, clover collects Nitrogen for the air and stores it in tiny nodules in it's root system. Grasses are able to steal this Nitrogen and boy do grasses love Nitrogen. Also clovers allowed to flower attract bees, which will pollinate your apple trees on another day and give you wonderful clover honey which is to die for.

What I would do, and it is ecologically sound, is make up strong selective in the type of spray bottle that window cleaner comes in and zap individual weeds ongoing. You don't have to hit the whole damn 3/4 acre in one go. Just take a 15 minute walk over the property once a week with the spray bottle. Any weed you can identify and don't want give it a little shower, grin devilishly and walk on. In no-time the meadow will be free of the weeds you don't want.

That is real selective weed-killing. When [or if] cutting the grass, I would set the cutters at the absolute highest they can go. This is a field we are talking about, not a cultivated lawn. Also I would consider not cutting the back parts at all. Let it grow to hay and die off again in the autumn. Do nothing with in apart from strolling through with the hand spray. Thus you will permit wild meadow plants to flourish, while getting rid of the nuisances. If you want to include the ribwort plaintains in the selective killing well and good. They have medicinal uses but probably not a market?

Using that methodology you may get the best of all worlds. You may get butterflies, moths, goldfinches, bees and all sorts of wildlife. You certainly will get a 15 minute walk on a handy field at least once a week. How's the oul ticker?

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Windyacre
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 10:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Large weedy meadow Reply with quote

Thanks walltoall for all your time and information. Selective weedkiller it is then. I was actually collecting shrubs at a nursery today and I got some more advise on my weedy meadow. So what I now intend to do is cut and mulch, after 3 days use 1 ounce per square yard of fertiliser, after another 2 days cut and mulch, then after another 3 days use a selective weedkiller ( 2 4-D was mentioned).
I will probably only be able to do a certain area at a time so I will also try your idea of making up a selective and spraying as I walk through the grass(or lack of it!). My above plan is weather permitting of course and I dont call myself windyacre for no reason. Its going to be difficult to stick to my plan with the winds I get here, so I am certain it wont be a strict plan. So its going to be a busy summer and I think the 15 minute walk through could take an hour. So the battle begins, with my spray bottle in hand, ribwort plaintains here I come!
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Sean Ph'lib
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Windyacre, be advised: 2 4-D has been linked to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, endochrine disruption, reproductive troubles and a host of other ailments. I wouldn't even take the top off a bottle of it, let alone use it.
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 5:33 pm    Post subject: selective weedkillers kill people too. Reply with quote

I agree with you Sean. I only ever open bottles of any weedkiller in the open, never breathe in fumes and use only a handgun at close range and with the wind behind me. The effects of agent orange defolient are still being felt in Vietnam after two generations. So Widyacre use that breeze to good effect.
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AJ
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonder how he got on, have exactly the same problem myself this year. Ribwort has gone absolutely mad over the past couple of weeks. See 2 4-D is not recomended. What alternatives do you recomend.
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 7:43 am    Post subject: grassy meadows Reply with quote

There is nothing wrong with 2 4 D as long as you take the precautions I do. Any 'selective' weedkiller will deal with broad leaf plants and is esp good if you go weed by weed rather than scatter spray all over the place.
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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 11:28 am    Post subject: Re: grassy meadows Reply with quote

walltoall wrote:
There is nothing wrong with 2 4 D as long as you take the precautions I do. Any 'selective' weedkiller will deal with broad leaf plants and is esp good if you go weed by weed rather than scatter spray all over the place.



Good afternoon retired trouble maker.
Tthank u for your reply.Think I'll do the 15 minutes trick and cover it over a couple of weeks. I have 3/4's of an acre, which is probably grazing type grass but cuts up good enough for me. If I let it go any more I'll end up with no grass.The speed at which this has take over is frightening.Just one other question, am I looking for a product whick is marked 2 4-D or a product which incorporares it.

Regards

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michael brenock
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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought it was 2 4 5T that was agent orange and not 2 4 D. I often recomended 2 4 D for difficult weeds on lawns. The best control for 3-4 acres of grass is livestock grazing goats sheep or horses.
michael brenock horticultural advisor (retired)

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