A residential lot near the Applebrook Golf Course in Malvern, PA has experienced what so many new builders experience: the unintentional exhaustion of the topsoil. When Organixx, an organic lawn care company based out of Philadelphia, arrived, they found the topsoil on this 1 acre lot was only 2 inches deep in places. (For comparison, a typical 1-2 acre lot will have 6-12 inches of topsoil.) Topsoil is often shallow as a result of typical construction practices. You can learn more about topsoil by checking out this useful guide that answers common questions such as what is topsoil? During construction, many builders will strip the topsoil and stockpile it to be re-spread after construction of the house and driveway is complete. But this re-spreading process often leaves topsoil shallow and starved. Plus, this lot had a compounded problem. Not only had the builders stripped the existing topsoil, but the soil quality was incredibly poor and the lawn was installed by sodding.
Sod is a kind of instant lawn. It is grown by farmers, put on trucks, and shipped to the destination lawn. With sodding, lawns can be installed in days instead of years. Unfortunately, in many cases sod causes all sorts of problems. Usually, it comes loaded with thatch–a loose layer of excess plant material (shoots, stems, roots, etc.). Organic systems do not have thatch. Instead, microbes break down that excess plant material and turn it into food for the plants. That natural cycle is the healthiest, most sustainable system for plant life. Sod that is loaded with thatch has almost certainly been grown with high levels of fertilizer, which has killed the existing microbes. The problems that can arise from these overfertilized lawns can last years. An overfertilized, sodded lawn just is not as hardy as an organic lawn. Sod is not as good as seed.
As a result of devastated topsoil, poor soil quality, and having a sodded lawn installed, this lot faced numerous problems with poor growth, insect disease, and weed management
Organixx began a soil restoration and rejuvenation project on the property. High-quality organic compost, microbial cocktails (kelp, fish emulsion, humic acid, etc.), live beneficial bacteria, and organic fertilizer were all applied regularly. Their organic program was designed to help detox the overfertilized sod and restore the natural cycle of the soil. In addition, Organixx wanted to break down the thatch layer in the sod, returning those nutrients to the lawn.
This residential lawn has been organic for six years. The thatch layer is gone and the microbial system has been restored. A healthy, lush lawn has been established and maintained. But, when dandelions arrived in 2015, the owner used chemical weed killer. This weed killer is counterproductive to the overall work of the organic program. It kills off the microbes that are so valuable to the natural life cycle of a lawn.
Now, in 2016, Organixx is doing additional testing to determine the root cause of the dandelion infestation (which is normally an issue of PH balance).