Ecology + Design

Organic Lawn Installation on a New Construction Site – Mamaroneck NY

This is a perfect example of a organic lawn installed from scratch on a new construction site of one acre in Mamaroneck, NY. There are very specific challenges to producing a high quality organic lawn on a residential construction site.

The first challenge is to decompact the actual soil surface. During construction heavy machinery and vehicles constantly running over the same ground have a serious impact on the condition of the soil surface. In simple terms this means the soil and subsurface have lost the ability to breathe and retain water. Without air spaces and room to store water the basic requirements and resources for plant life are just not there! The first step in the process on new lawn construction is relieving the compaction by mechanical means. This feat is accomplished by either rototilling or using a harley rake or similar soil conditioner. It may even be necessary in some cases to use an excavator.

The next step is to remove rocks and debris by rough grading, then lift the grade with a blend of premium grade topsoil and compost mix or a high grade media/mix dependent on the existing soil conditions, light etc, which from place to place on site may not be consistently uniform. Once this is accomplished the final grade can be prepared for seeding.


Once graded a combination of seed varieties suited for light, traffic, and slope conditions should be spread. First with a lawn spreader (rotary) then by hand from buckets. For the best results and performance we use three mixes with three to five varieties in each one. This ensures the greatest biodiversity possible. Thereby creating a lawn which will be attractive in appearance, durable and drought resistant while strong and healthy to resist insects and disease. Just like our bodies, what we put in, we get out!

For this project we had the added challenge of playing beat the clock! Work started in late October and took three days to complete. Luckily the weather was reasonably warm and while at first (right after seeding) it did not rain (we used many hoses and rain towers for irrigation). Although the ground temperature was relatively good for germination it was naturally progressively colder over the coming weeks. Because of the lateness of the season fast germinating annual grass seed as cover crop was not an option, to retain moisture as well as accelerate seed germination a seed accelerator was used (Penn Mulch) in addition to an OMRI approved natural source organic starter fertilizer.The results were impressive. Intensive seeding and aeration will be needed in the coming year but the foundation is solid for growing a beautiful healthy, sustainable green lawn!

Jay Archer, President


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