Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A plug for the neighborhood

We're trying something new this year...a community yard project. Here's an email that went out over our block email list:

Dear Neighbors –

Is the soil under your lawn so hard it feels more like concrete than earth? Does your grass struggle to grow and then go downhill from there? I know ours does. Mike Miller from the KMOX Garden Hotline says the best thing we can do in St. Louis to improve our lawns is to core aerate the ground once or twice a year (mid spring and fall). Core aeration is the process of removing little plugs from the ground to improve air flow into the soil and root system of the lawn. When the process is complete, your lawn looks like it has hundreds of little wine corks laying on the ground.

Home Depot rents core aeration machines for $80 per day (24 hours). We’ve set this Friday/Saturday as the day to rent the machine for our block. We’ll either divide the cost by participants, or collect $10 per household. Any surplus funds will be applied to 2009 block party expenses. It should take about 45 minutes to an hour to do each front yard. If we pick up the machine around 5 pm Friday, some of us can get stated Friday evening, with the rest using the machine on Saturday.

Note: Home Depot will not make reservations. They rent the machines on a first come, first served basis. The man in the rental office said that if we came by Friday around 5, we should be able to get one of the machines.

The block captain will sign for the machine and handle the funds. We will need some help picking up and returning the machine. It takes two people to load and unload it, and we will need someone to donate the use of a pickup to help with delivery and return. If you have access to the use of a pickup Friday after work and Saturday around 4:30, please volunteer. Without a truck, the project won’t happen. We need your help. Please volunteer if you can help in this regard.

The last thing is, it would be great if we had an idea of when you’d want to use the machine. (Friday evening till around 8 PM, Saturday morning – from 7:00 AM – noon, or Saturday afternoon till 4 PM.) If we could have interested folks sign up for one of those three time slots, we’d be able to make the most efficient use of the machine.)

After core aerating your lawn, it’s a good time to put down new compost/soil supplements, and new grass seed. If this project works this first time, we could try again in the fall and continue it as a block tradition. If we stay with it, our block could have great lawns in the coming years.

Thanks for your help and here’s to good gardening

Now while this yard improvement project will be a good community building effort (we've already got about ten neighbors signed up and an offer of a donated pick up truck), I have to ask the question...where are all those industrious snow shoveling/lawn maintenance people?

In all our years living in the City, we've had twice yearly deliveries of fire wood, mulch haulers offering to mulch our yard (with the free mulch from Carondelet Park - maybe, fine by me, that mulch pile looks like Mount Everest), snow shovelers offering to shovel our walks after every deep snow, but never anyone offering to aerate our lawn. An enterprising person could make money by the wheel barrow load if they offered to aerate your yard for $20-$25.


Anonymous said...

I'd be very wary of using mulch from Carondolet Park. Did that in the past and caused nothing but problems for my yard in that there is so much other "stuff" mixed in that I had nothing but weeds pop up.

samizdat said...

I'm with anon. My wife and I used some compost from there and found all kinds of trash ground up into the mix. This is a result of residents and flippers/rehabbers dumping inappropriate and, frankly, illegal and toxic waste into both household and yard waste Dumpsters. Did I say toxic? Yes. I base this on observing the contents of yard waste D's occasionally. The compost at Carondolet is not properly prepared, sifted or sterilized. Consider it toxic waste, and I will never use it again. Matter of fact, I'd not be surprised if the levels of lead in that compost were significantly beyond acceptable levels.

Anonymous said...

Parks & Rec distributing toxic waste marketed as "green" compost? Welcome to the Lou.

GMichaud said...

I have noticed a great deal of trash in the compost from Carondolet also. It is a good point about the possible lead paint. I know the yard dumpster behind my house gets plastic bags (full of leaves), construction debris, beer cans etc in it. I try to fish it all out, but I can't even imagine what happens in the rest of the city.
It's a good idea however, if it was executed properly. It would probably take a green sorting line to eliminate inappropriate waste, some sterilization techniques and maybe an ongoing education program about waste (including litter)throughout the city.
Sounds like a fairly easy to do green stimulus program.

Anonymous said...

Just got some of that Carondolet Mulch on Sat. Oooo. That was only after I drove all the way down to South County Mall for the hazardous/paint collection. Turned around and headed right back to the city after seeing about 500 cars in line. Ridiculous. That must have been a 2-3 hour wait! Then went back down to the mulch pits which are not exactly what you would consider high grade. Lots of trash...what I thought was a used condom thankfully turned out to be a balloon. Lots of garbarge and plastics broke down that I would not dare put in my organic gard