Scoop on poop

So here is the thing…I have absolutely no place writing about lawn care because in truth I don’t do lawn care.  None! I let the critters eat what grows and that means I was apparently out of date by the last quarter of the 1800’s.  A quote taken from a great lawn care book written by Paul Tukey would have me shamed…

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…now I have to go look up “parsimonious”. 

That shameful truth aside I did grow up with dad who ran a landscape company for years and a mom who was not only an organic health food advocate but a great gardener.  As a teenager I earned spending money doing lawn care for the neighbors in Port Stanley Ontario which may explain my adult aversion to the whole process.
What I do know a fair bit about is the benefits of poop.  Being an animal lover means I have cleaned up a lot of it over the years and have learned a bit about its value.  Poop is good for grass – there we are done…ok not really there is a bit more to know.

Manure that is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus is good lawn food.  Which type to use and how and when to apply are topics we can look into.

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Is all poop good poop?

No, generally speaking animals which eat meat (people included) do not create manure that is as good for your lawns as herbivores.  It’s not that it is never used but this type of manure (yes including human) is aged for much longer before it is considered safe (some sites recommend as long as 3 years) and personally I guess I would just rather avoid it at all – (here I am plugging my ears and saying lalalala loudly).  Let’s pretend they only ever put septic system waste onto vast forests far away from us all and leave the topic there.

Manure from poultry, sheep, goats, rabbits, cows, or horses are all good sources of food for your lawn.  Some types of soil do better with different types of manure but generally all will benefit from properly applied feeding. Availability tends to dictate which you will use; if you have animals or access to a local farm then chances are that’s what you should go with.

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Should I use fresh poop?

No, manure is best when aged a bit and easier to apply when it is dried out.

Manure can be aged in a pile on its own or within compost.  Aging helps to dry it, break it down for easier application and most importantly helps reduce the likelihood of any bacteria or parasites present in the animal causing any risk to family or pets using the lawn.

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Do I just toss poop all over the lawn?

Although some people will still do a top application it is less effective because much of the nutrient will evaporate when left exposed to the sun.  Top dressing can be smelly and you probably don’t want to do your morning yoga on a freshly top fed lawn – downward dog would be particularly nasty.  And if your cat or dog leaves presents on your lawn (who’s doesn’t?) it is not generally considered a good thing to leave it, best to clean it up and either dispose of it or set up a good composting system.

The best way to feed the lawn is to work the manure into the soil when you can.  Some people also swear by manure teas, leaving the manure in water steeping in the sunlight then pouring it on the lawn.  Good for the lawn but again you may want to take a day or two before getting on it.

My non lawn

Although I do not do lawn care I do actually have a good reason.  My home is in a sand pit.  We loved the shape of the land and the amount of natural water flowing from natural springs on the property so we bought the pit. My lovely Kent Homes mini home perches on top of a hill in the pit surrounded by rough rock, sand and water.

Last year we added horses and the miracle of poop is already apparent.  Being mostly sand and clay our soil is fragile and grows sparingly.  Last fall we put the horses on part of the land.  They striped the vegetation away exposing the lovely shape of the hills and of course dropped their manure about.  Although we clean and pile the barn manure we treat the rough pasture differently.  Last weekend we were out raking away rough ground and I was excited to show my daughter how the patches that were under a pile of poop were growing so much faster than the nutrient bare sand around them.
Now we are strategically piling poop in the low spots on the land where the nutrients can wash down into the soil feeding it and helping improve the growth potential .

Yeah mother nature…
So that is my scoop on poop.

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If you are a person who loves a beautiful lawn and prefers to keep things natural I definitely recommend reading this entertaining and informative book by Paul Tukey…
“Organic Lawn Care Manual: A Natural, Low-Maintenance System for a Beautiful, Safe Lawn”

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