Lawn care is an area of gardening that few people enjoy.
The lawn is something to walk on or play on and is very much left to its own defence in most gardens. All year round we laboriously cut our lawn because it needs it but that is about all we do and then wonder why it looks so awful. With a little inexpensive care throughout the year the lawn can be the envy of all your neighbours. After all the lawn is a plant.
Your lawn is a plant
The lawn is made from grass. I know that sounds obvious but grass is a plant just the same as any shrub or tree in your garden. It has roots, requires watering and needs light to survive. If you allow your lawn to continually grow, without cutting it, it will grow to its maximum height and then seed heads will appear. Grass needs to seed to be able to regenerate itself, so by cutting it, it just wants to grow more to try to seed.
Cutting your lawn needs to be done regularly. During the initial growing season, March to May, the grass will accelerate as air temperatures increase and the ground becomes warmer. A good regular cut will be required throughout these months. The summer months, June through to August, your lawn will start to slow down as the ground becomes drier. I realise a lot of people know that we are prone to heavy rainfall in these months but the rain does not penetrate deep enough into the ground or far enough to benefit root systems and what does reach the grass roots does not stay around long enough. In August cut grass almost stops growing because it has become tired and at this time of year it is best to allow the lawn to grow a little longer. Do not cut your lawn when the sun is at its hottest, around midday. This helps in a couple of ways.
Firstly with the lawn longer the moisture retention is much better allowing the lawn to stay greener for longer. Secondly the play traffic is a much higher in the summer months and slightly longer lawns allow for more wear and tear.
If the lawn is allowed to grow excessively long the light is cut out from the lower growth levels and the lawn will go yellow, encourage disease and ant hills will appear making the lawn surface bumpy and uneven. Therefore an even balance of cutting maintenance needs to be found. My rule of thumb is to allow my lawn to grow to around two to three inches before cutting it during the summer months.
During the summer months it is extremely helpful if the lawn is watered regularly either first thing in the morning or last thing at night either by yourself with a sprinkler hose or by an automatic sprinkler system. This keeps the moisture in the soil of the lawn and keeps the lawn looking greener. If you have hanging baskets and pots in the garden it is best to water them at the same time this saves water and your time. Do not water your lawn or plants when the sun is at its hottest as this will mean some of the water will evaporate with the heat of the sun and the lawn and plants will not benefit from the watering and its required effect.
Feeding and Re-seeding
When it comes to feeding our lawns we get confused and in the end don't bother, hoping that nature will do it for us. Sadly this is not the case as a lawn weed and feed is required twice a year, minimum. It is fairly easy these days to purchase an all in one weed and feed from any garden store. The time to do this very easy but important major garden operation is spring and autumn. The spring weed and feed is to give your lawn a boost after the winter months and the autumn weed and feed is to put back into your lawn what it has lost over the growing season so it can survive the oncoming winter. As it states this is a weed and feed so it will also keep the weeds at bay as well as feeding the lawn. Read the instructions carefully when carrying out this operation and make sure you select the correct weed and feed for the time of year. A spring re-seed is very beneficial to the lawn also. Rake over your lawn clearing all thatch and debris. Mix some fresh garden grass seed with some compost in a bucket and evenly spread the mixture across your lawn, preferably just after cutting, firm down the spread mix and rake into the lawn. Water well and keep it well watered to help the new seed to start to grow.
It is of the utmost importance that the lawn is kept clear of all debris and items that will not allow light to get to it. If items are left on the lawn it will change colour from a lovely green to a pale yellow colour because the lawn cannot produce its green colour without sufficient light. So keep the lawn clear which means clearing up all of those autumn leaves every time they fall and move children’s toys around the garden to help the lawn stay as green as possible. During the winter months it is best to remove all items from the lawn surface.
Every lawn has some bare patches mainly caused by general wear and tear. Bare patches can be repaired very easily. Identify the area to be repaired and decide whether you want to re-seed or re-turf. New turf will give you an instant result whereas seeding will take approximately 2-3 weeks to show any difference. Purchase your new turf from a reputable seller and make sure that the turf has not been rolled up for too long and is not yellow in appearance. Turf starts to die very quickly when rolled up too long due to the grass not receiving the light it requires to survive.
Lay the turf over the bare area and mark around its edges on your lawn, remove the turf and cut out the area marked. Remove all soil and debris to the depth of the new turf making sure that there is a small amount of loose soil in the bottom. Lay the new turf into the cut out section, firm down and regularly water. In about one week the new turf will start to grow. Try to keep off the new turf for as long as possible or until you can no longer pull it up.
To re-seed the areas simply rake it over breaking up the top soil to a fine tilth, removing any dead grass and debris. Purchase a good grass seed with rye grass content. Mix the seed with some dry compost or fine soil and hand spread the seed over the bare raked area. Firm the area over gently under foot and water in. Once the seeded area has been completed stay off the area for as long as the grass takes to grow back to its original state.
Need the help of a Bishop's Stortford specialist? Contact me, Mark Stradling from Mark's Garden Services today!
Member since: 28th May 2012
Mark Stradling the local owner of Mark's Garden Services in Bishop's Stortford. I love to blog and give advice whilst creating Affordable Gardens - Luxury Spaces. As seen on Channel 4 Phil Spencer: Secret...