May 15, 2011

Maine Gardener: Compost key in creating the green, green grass of home

By Tom Atwell
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

"Some people want the 18th at Augusta," he said.

Christopher A. Turmelle, turf division manager with Atlantic Pest Solutions, with offices in Arundel and Brunswick, begins every project with a soil test.

"I think the public doesn't have a great awareness of integrated pest management and how we in the industry relate it to lawn care," he said. "We spend a lot of time scouting the lawns we work on and spot-treating only as needed."

His company has switched to a slow-release fertilizer, Duration CR, that will last six months on the lawn. Turmelle said that because this releases 50 percent fewer chemicals over a longer period, "you don't have to worry about chemicals leaching out or running off into the groundwater."

He said the fertilizer is temperature activated, so it won't release nitrogen when it is too early in the spring or too late in the fall. And any nitrogen it releases in the hot, dry period of summer would be no more than the residual nitrogen released from spring or fall fertilizing with traditional lawn fertilizers.

While those fertilizers might be better than the four-times-a-year fertilization that had become common -- and is now recognized to be environmentally harmful -- the Maine Yardscaping Partnership says lawns 10 years old and older do not need to be fertilized at all.

Just mow with a mulching mower and leave the clippings on the lawn.

The Yardscaping Partnership also says fertilization should be done only in late August or September, and in most cases using a fertilizer with no phosphorous or potassium. And again, a soil test is recommended.

Most Maine lawns just don't need those typical ingredients in granular fertilizer.

Next week, we will get into lawn troubles -- grubs, fungal diseases, moles and voles, weeds and other problems.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at


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