Garden Maintenance — The Secret of Having a Lovely Looking Lawn
The expanse of green Lawn around the house sets the scene for the whole garden. In summer the lawn unites the bright and varied planting such as the flower beds, shrub border s rockeries and other features. In winter its role is reversed, it can bring greenness and life to an empty stage.
The key to a successful, great looking lawn is routine, consistent care. Provide care as a preventive measure, before it needs it. Fertilize to maintain a green, healthy lawn; don't wait until it needs fertilizing. A proper garden maintenance programme is a series of trouble-preventing measures that will help to avoid emergency treatments.
The Essential Tasks of Maintaining the Lawn
The immediate effect of the essential tasks such as mowing, watering, feeding and weeding is to keep the lawn looking attractive, but there is also a vital long term effect. Below are some helpful time-saving tips to maintain a healthy lawn:
- Frequency of mowing: The number one essential task is correct mowing. The main rule is that you should not cut more than half the length of grass at any one time, for example if the suggested cutting height is 5 cm, then you cut it when it is 10 cm long. If the lawn has grown to 15 cm then cut it first to 7.5 cm and wait 3 0r 4 days before cutting it 4 to 5 cm. It is important to mow regularly. Begin in March and finish in October apart from the occasional light 'topping' in early winter when the weather is mild. The frequency of cutting during the growing season will depend on many factors, such as lawn type, variety, weather, soil fertility, grass vigour and the time of year. Cut twice a week, when the grass is growing vigoursly in summer. Cut once a week in spring, autumn and during prolonged dry spells in summer.
- Direction of mowing: Each time you mow change the direction of cutting by 45 to 90 degrees according to the geometry of the garden. This helps to avoid the development of wheel tracks on the lawn.
- Water before the grass turns brown: The first effect of drought in lawns is a loss of springiness and a general dullness of the turf. Look for these signs after about 7 days of dry weather in summer and 10 days in spring. Water copiously as recommended. A light sprinkle every day can do more harm than good.
- Trim the edges: A lawn with overgrown grass at the edges can be an eyesore, make sure that the mower can reach right up to the edges. Then strim around the edges with a strimmer. To give a professional finish the lawn can be edged using an edging iron and then maintained using an edging shears after each mowing.
- Feed with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in spring or early summer: A routine feed is essential at the early part of the growing season. One should not refrain from feeding because it results in more mowing — starvation results in thin and sparse grass. Rake during the spring and again in the autumn: Raking in spring helps to remove winter debris ad to break up small amounts of thatch and to lift the grass leaves and weed stems for efficient cutting. The removal of fallen leaves in autumn is essential; never leave them on the surface over winter.
- Kill weeds and moss when they appear: Don't wait until the problem gets out of hand. If there are small numbers of weeds these can be pulled out; build up of patches of moss indicate that the growing conditions have to be improved. Apply a weed killer or moss killer promptly as soon as there is an obvious invasion.
- Aerate the lawn: The lawn is aerated by driving a fork or other spiked instrument at intervals so as to relieve compaction, drainage is improved and new growth is stimulated. Aerate once a year if the grass is badly compacted and moss is present. Do so once every 3 years if a hollow fork is used for spiking.
- Top dress the lawn: Top dressing is the application of a bulky mixture, usually made up of peat loam and sand. The dressing should be applied every autumn if you want a really first class lawn. The vigour of the grass is improved and minor hollows are removed.
- Feed with a balanced fertilizer in autumn: Autumn feed is important to build up the root system and increase disease resistance, but you have to choose your fertilizer with care. The nitrogen rich feeds of spring and summer are not suitable; they can stimulate soft growth and increase the risk of disease. Important to use a product for autumn use, with high potassium and lower nitrogen than spring and summer feeds.
- Brush the surface regularly: A birch broom is an important piece of garden equipment. Surface dew or raindrops should ideally be swished away before mowing and worm casts must be dispersed particularly before a cylinder mower is used.
- Apply routine treatment for moss, weeds and disease: Most lawn problems are extremely difficult to control once they have become established. Many keen lawn owners therefore follow a preventive programme by using Lawn Sand every spring for moss control, a selective weed killer in late spring and disease prevention each autumn.
- Use of selective weed killers and garden chemicals: It is important to read both the instructions and precautions carefully before using any of these products. It is also very important to apply the correct amount as putting on too much can scorch the grass. The soil should be moist at the time of treatment. Timing is important when applying selective weed killers and they should only be used when the grass and weeds are growing actively. Proprietary lawn sand mixes are an excellent way of controlling moss and small broad leaved weeks and also feeding the grass. The sulphate of iron content gives the lawn a lovely rich green colour. Lawn sand should only be applied from April to June.
- Tackle brown patches but only if necessary: Brown patches should be carefully examined and control measures taken while they are still small and have not yet reached the unsightly stage.
Other Tasks — but only if necessary
- Roll but only if necessary: The only time to roll is n spring when the surface is dry and the soil is damp. Remember the rules if in doubt, don't roll.
- Apply lime but only if necessary: Lime is rarely needed. There are occasions in very acid soil when a light dressing of limestone is beneficial, but adding lime to a lawn which does not need it can lead to a serious deterioration of the turf.