Lawn advice

A bit of Lawn advice for you:

Very few of us are graced with perfectly flat manicured lawns. The reality is that we tend to have lumps and bumps and good bits and bad bits, weedy bits, bare bits and hopefully a nice bit to sit out on!

What you need need to consider is not how awful it looks, but how good you want it to look. And whether you have the time and effort to achieve that look.

Regular mowing: 

Regular cutting helps grass grow over weeds. Grass grows from the base upwards (unlike most plants), so if you keep chopping the top, the bottom grows better. But don’t cut too short, better a green 2″ high grass than a patchy brown/green 1″ lawn.

Maximise light:

Cut back (as much as possible) or use plant supports to stop stuff flopping all over the grass.

Your edges:

If you don’t fancy mowing the grass, or it’s too wet, you can still trim the edges. You’d be amazed at how much neater it all looks, even if the grass is a little long!

Autumn maintenance:

Give the lawn a good grass rake in the Autumn and pick up the dead leaves. Then spike the lawn to aerate it, hard work I know but worthwhile. Try to keep off it as much as possible till the Spring

Spring maintenance:

Re-seed tired looking areas, and add a little lawn fertiliser/weedkiller, and once the grass starts growing start mowing.

Lawn bumps:

Lawns that are not flat are a real pain to mow. The bumps get shawn to the ground but the hollows have lusher longer grass growing, you can’t mow easily. The result is a polka dot effect on your nice green patch. If the bumps and lumps annoy you and you want to get rid of them, here’s what you do.

Bumps – Cut into the bumpy turf a large ‘X’, then peel the turf back to reveal the soil underneath. Then remove the soil to flatten the bump, and fold the grass back onto it. To secure, place a piece of mesh (chicken wire or fence netting) over the area and secure firmly with pegs. This will keep the turf in contact with the soil until it re-roots. Water it regularly until the grass is held back down by the roots.

Hollows – The process is exactly the same, but you add soil to the hollow. Add topsoil not compost, then firm well down and add a little more. The repair should be a bump. This bump will settle down over time and hopefully leave a nice flat lawn.

Bare Patches in the lawn? –

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Lack of light –  grass loves sunshine, there are grass mixes for shadier spots. If trees or shrubs overshadow the grass, it is probably going to look rather threadbare. Either, reduce the overhanging branches to let more light onto the lawn. Or consider removing the grass and replace with an alternative hard landscaping. Alternatively enlarge the border and add more plants that thrive in shadier conditions.

Compaction and or drainage As grass gets walked the ground gets more squashed down. This makes it harder for the roots to grow, and the ground less able to drain well. So to improve this you can spike the lawn. Use a garden fork, push the prongs a good half way in, wiggle it round, tilt the fork to ‘lift the soil’ .

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Traffic and feet – Lawns can endure will have a lot of wear and tear, but there are solutions.

Simplest is to raise the height of the mower and not cut so short. This will protect the base of the grass more which is where it grows from).

Secondly add a turf protecting grid, this sits on the soil and the grass grows up through a flat honeycomb frame. Mow the grass, just above the top of the frame, the roots of the grass are protected by the honeycomb. Also consider artificial grass, it can offer a really good solution for a small garden or a heavily used area.

Muddy Lawns

A sight most most commonly seen around football goals! Basically the grass has gone, and you are left with a soggy mess.

In a small garden, probably 10% of your lawn gets used 80% of the time and that will wear it away.

Once you have lost the grass, you will have to choose what you need to do. Keep re turfing or reseeding the area, add a turf protection grid or get rid of the lawn entirely in that area and replace it with something more durable.

Unfortunately, there are no magic remedies, all require a little time effort and some expense to sort out, but the result has to look better than mud!

The key point here is not that the lawns is looking worn out, but why.

The most common reasons for your lawn looking less than gorgeous are poor drainage, lack of sunlight, the soil is compacted and mowing the grass too short.

Most of these issues can be dealt with. If you have still got problems then there are other possibilities to consider:

Animal wee! Their repeated weeing on the lawn will kill the grass. If you can’t train your pet to wee elsewhere, then dilution of said spot with water will help. Eventually the wee wins and you may need to replace the grass. Sorry!

Petrol spillages: for those of you with motor mowers, check you are not leaking fuel onto the grass. This will leave brown patches on the lawn.

Fungal problems: if lawns are a bit low on nourishment, they can succumb to fungus’. If patches of bleached or orangy/red grass appear, it is likely you have Red Thread. It will not kill the grass usually, but it does make it look sad, treat with a nitrogen rich fertiliser.

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Bugs: Small brown patches all over the lawn and lots of birds pecking the soil can mean you have leatherjackets lurking below. These are grey grubs (daddy long legs larvae) that eat the grass from below. I am not a great advocate of using insecticide to control pests, rather try not to get too bothered by it. The other main lawn pest are ants. These don’t eat the grass, but push up the soil and create little mini anthills that are squashed by the action of the mower. This spreads soil on top of the grass and so creates bare patches. Once again, ants are too numerous to really try to eradicate. I do use an ant powder if I have red ants in my lawn, but that’s only because they bite!

Our lawn advice: if you want lawn perfection, be prepared to put in hours of work. Otherwise accept there will be a few patches, some weeds and a few bare bits, but as long as most of the lawn is fine for sitting out on, then it’s fine.