The sensual experience a lawn can offer is also second to none. Simply test the theory by kicking off your shoes and running your bare toes through the velvety sward and when you next do the tiresome job of mowing, forget the pain and enjoy the delicious, intoxicating smell of the newly mown grass.
Lush, green grass is the heart of the garden. It provides a perfect foil for the textured planting in the flowerbeds and borders and adds a restful quality to the garden. To avoid a large lawn looking like a playing field though, don’t just plan borders as strips along the boundary but cut out island beds that can be filled with seasonal plants. As the beds can be seen from all sides, it’s best to arrange the plants so that they increase in height towards the centre of the bed. For best effect, the height of the tallest plants should equal half the width of the bed.
Re-shaping the lawn and creating an island bed will instantly give your garden a new look
You must avoid making complex shapes and minuscule areas of grass and always bear in mind the manoeuvrability of the mower. The best approach is to take off the square edges to give it sweeping curves. By doing this you’ll also extend the flowerbeds giving you more space to add colour to the garden. Use Plasti-kote temporary Projekt Paint to mark out the beds and avoid making narrow and restricted routes across the grass too, as this will soon cause to wear and tear in one part of the lawn.
After re-shaping, butt a mowing strip – row of paving slabs or bricks up against the lawn edge so that you can simply glide the machine over and trim any straying shoots. A mowing strip will also stop soil washing onto the grass and prevent stray lawn weeds from creeping into your flowerbeds and trailing stems from the flowerbeds from spilling onto the lawn, which if left would soon smother and kill the grass beneath.
Make time to mow
Grass starts to grow when the weather is mild with temperatures above 5C and is growing to its max strength when they reach 10C. Higher temperatures have little effect on growth unless there is a drought, which sends the grass into decline. Continual cloudy weather also means there is less growth, as grass needs sunshine to photosynthesise properly, which is the chemical process that plants go through to make make their own food in their leaves, which keeps it green and healthy.
Mowing therefore usually starts in early to mid-March and may go on through to December and contrary to what you might think, mowing little and often is the easiest way to keep on top of your lawn. This can mean twice a week when it’s growing vigorously in summer. Mowing regularly will encourage a thicker sward as it forces low growing side shoots to develop making it harder for weeds to find a way in.
If your lawn is larger that 25 x 30m then you’ll definitely need a machine with a minimum of 35cm cutting width if you want to get the job done in 30 minutes. A rotary mower set on medium blade height is ideal for the job but make sure that it has a large collection box fitted to reduce the number of times that it will need emptying
To give your lawn a touch of class, always mow stripes. You need a lawnmower that’s fitted with a roller to achieve the effect and for a bowling-green finish it must be a cylinder model.
Light and dark stripes are made by mowing the grass in opposite directions, but take care to overlap the stripes as you walk to prevent a ribbed effect. You must keep the mower blade sharp throughout the summer as dull blades tear grass, leaving it vulnerable to disease.
If you prefer to trade in your old mower for a hammock then you must go for the no-mow option and splash out on a fully automatic robotic mower.
The Robomow, prices from £499 from robomow.com, will cut grass by itself and unsupervised! All you need to do is simply put a guidance wire around the perimeter of your lawn and any obstacles like flowerbeds then set the machine to go. The smart mower will even trim edges and because of it’s mulching action – it recycles the valuable nutrients back into the lawn, so there’s no clippings to collect
Keep grass well fed
Grass is always greener when fed and nourished. It’s also healthier and can withstand extreme weather conditions of heat and cold much better than grass that is starving.
In mid March or April it’s important to feed the lawn to boost growth and help prevent weeds and moss from establishing. Use a balanced nitrogen-rich spring lawn fertiliser, but if your lawn is affected by fungus problems, do not feed until they are resolved, as there’s a risk of overfeeding and scorching if the grass is thin.
If during the summer your lawn loses its vigour and springiness, it will benefit from a fast-acting liquid tonic booster-feed, such as EverGreen Extreme Green. This will give your lawn a richer greener colour in just 24 hours, which lasts for up to 6 weeks. Do not apply this high-nitrogen feed after August though, as the lush growth may become vulnerable to the cold, when the temperatures begin to drop in autumn.
The alternative is to feed the lawn directly after mowing with Westland Aftercut 3 Day Green, which gives a greener lawn in just 3 days! Even just one treatment should protect the lawn against hot, dry weather.
Choose a wind-free day to spread granular fertiliser, when the soil is moist or rain is expected. You can apply a combined low-nitrogen, autumn weed and feed that will also control moss. Accurately measure out the quantity of chemical and spread evenly over a marked area.
Water only when necessary
Traditional lawns are water addicts so when it’s a hot, dry summer they suffer and soon turn yellow and even die off. A drink of cool fresh water occasionally will your grass green and alert. Don’t water your lawn at the hottest time day though, or you could scorch it. The best time to water is at dusk when the temperature has lowered and the water won’t evaporate.
If there isn’t a hosepipe ban, aim to wet the soil down to the full root depth, about 15cm. To know how deep the soil is saturated, stick a spade into the soil and press forward to see how far down the soil is moist. If you do not know the rate of your sprinkler, place a container within its range and measure the depth of the water collected. After an hour, it should measure 5cm
If your lawn is worn out, then it might be time to rip it up and start afresh.
Growing from seed
Why: Grass seed is cheap and the best grass varieties for your site can be selected such as shade loving species. You can also opt for a luxury finish or utility lawn to suit the wear and tear it will receive.
When: April and Mid-August to mid-September are the best times of year for sowing.
How: Prepare a weed free, level area and remove any large stones. Rake over and level freshly dug soil and apply a dressing of growmore to help the new grass establish. Sow seed thinly and evenly at about 40g per sq m. Water in dry weather. When the grass has germinated wait until there is reasonable cover before mowing. Approximately 6-9 months must elapse after sowing before the lawn is ready for normal use.
In family gardens it’s best to grow a new lawn from turf as it can be used almost immediately for fun games like Lawn Darts, which costs just £7.95 from amazon.co.uk
Growing from turf
Why: Turf will give instant results and lawn that can be used within a couple of weeks. For weed free results and a beautiful green sward buy top quality lawn turf from a specialist supplier such as Rolawn. For your nearest depot or stockist Tel: 01904 757372 or visit rolawn.co.uk
When: March and April and October to February are the best times for laying turf but providing the ground isn’t frosted, waterlogged or there is a drought it can be laid the year round although establishment will take longer in low temperatures.
How: Prepare the ground level and lay the turves in staggered rows – like bricks in a wall. Do not stand on the newly laid grass but work from planks. Brush compost into the cracks after laying the turves and water in well. After several weeks the turf will have roots and the grass will be growing and ready to mow. Avoid heavy use in the first season.
Set the washing line post in concrete before you lay the grass to avoid damage
For a large family wash you might like the Hills Rotary 8 Washing Line, which has 58m of line space and if you buy an extra ground socket you can move it to another area of the garden whilst the kids are at play. It costs around £239 from ecowashinglines.com