Sunday, 24 April 2016
Real #Lawn Care Advice following The Top Lawn Care Expert's Visit
My lawn has many problems. Its not perfect. Most years its a struggle just to keep it cut and the temperamental lawn mower working! Like everything in life it needs time its not rocket science as they say but it may as well have been. The advice on lawns has been poor and grossly misunderstood. We have had a visit from top lawn expert David Hedges-Gower. It’s been an eye opener and it has made me rethink how I care for my lawn. It’s actually not that complicated.
A lovely lawn is not too difficult to achieve it takes a bit of planning and you do need the right tools and some of the impliments we have been using were not designed for the job
David gave me a few suggestions, a few simple tips that could make a big difference. Unfortunately like most of us time will limit what does actually get done but I have made a start.
The very first point he made about my lawn is its been cut with a blunt blade. The very first thing I have done is get my son to pull out his angle grinder and sharpen my 3 blades. I don't want the blades dragging and pulling on my grass. He did mention you would cut hair with blunt scissors. Ideally you have a couple of blades for your mower and swap them regularly. I have a very ancient ride on and it was quiet a big job to move the three mowing blades underneath and get the angle grinder on them. It would not be done more than once twice a year but that's better than never but its not every week as sugested.
I don't thing the mechanics that service are mowers would necessarily sharpen or change the blades. When cutting do not scalp the grass. Leave a good inch and a half at least, longer when its dry or you are removing all the cells containing moisture. I should also mention If its a ride on mower check the tyre pressure. If its soft on one side the cut will be uneven before you begin. Cut a a suitable height. At the beginning of the grass cutting season a light cut will do and when it is dry leave the grass longer.
Secondly understand that improving your lawns health is the very best way to tackle any lawn problem. A strong healthy lawn can beat disease, cope with a few pests, survive drought, flooding and often out grow moss and unwanted weeds in the lawn.
Aerate To have a strong healthy lawn ''treat it like a plant'' David says. Firstly it needs oxygen. It's small roots needs to be able to attain the nutrition within the soil and it can not do this without oxygen. Previously we said ''Spike the lawn with a garden fork to encourage better drainage, and aeration'' Its time to re think what we are actually trying to achieve and how effective this is.The very nature of a trampled, rained on lawn will cause compaction. We should deal with this simple mechanical problem by regularly hiring an aerator or in smaller spaces perhaps buying a special fork. I will be doing this. I believe the machines are about £50 to hire run on petrol and in layman's terms actually make air holes in the soil by removing small plugs. Its fairly ineffective stabbing a whole lawn with a garden fork. An implement as David pointed out intended for turning over soil. Who actually does go out and pierce their whole lawn with a garden fork! David did not recommend regularly rolling the lawn as it will increase compaction.
Now rethink what it means to scarify'' Scarify this is to rake your lawn, to remove any dead growth and bring all the fresh growth upward, not laying flattened and compressed and to remove all moss and weeds. '' or is it? A rake was designed for removing leaves not to scarify. The process was described by David as more like root pruning at the right time of year to encourage fresh shoots.This will fill the patches with fresh grass and thicken your lawn. Using a machine designed for scarifying you cut the stolons. Its quick and easy. Best done before any frost so very early autumn don't make that last bit of growth before dormancy vulnerable or do it in the spring when plants are full of vitality and about to burst with growth. This would be the optimum time. Its just a case of walking up and down the garden with a little choppy machine. Previous raking was pulling out grass thatch, a certain amount of thatch is necessary to keep in moisture. It can be thinned a little but this is not scarification.
Feed the lawn once its established a healthy root system and a good matt covering. There is little point is creating a few lush patches to emphasise the gaps when you really needed to scarify
Mixed branded feeds, top dressing and using spot weed killers are all important tools in improving your growing lawn but implement them at the most effective times and don't expect them to make up for lack of aeration and scarification. You must also be careful with application as is very easy to burn the lawn with unevenly spread feed. I have once created dark petrol blue patches in my lawn by zealously sprinkling feed by hand. You only do it once!
High potash feeds improve root structure. So best to add when roots need to get establish before the green grass grows and I would suggest autumn before the grass has a dormant winter and is active enough to take it up.
If the you soil ph that is sustaining your swath is acidic or alkaline iron based products like Ferrous Sulphate or chilated iron pellets, I believe are used in stadiums and golf courses and should help to neutralise the ph therefore allowing the minerals and nutrient's existing in the soil to become more freely available to the roots. Have you done a ph test?
High nitrogen will help to green up the grass but too much will make lush week growth and inhibit magnesium uptake.Throwing feed on in excess is not the answer to a good lawn. It's the polish at the end and it's far more important to aerate and scarify to create a good lawn to begin the season a feed will not rectify problems.
Spot weed with a spray weed killer direct onto the pant to remove weeds. They use more nutrients and water than the grass, which is why they grow so abundantly at the expense of the crops around them. It’s what makes them a weed! Moss can indicates poor drainage and is very hard to obliterate completely because it leaves spores. You may be able to improve a lawn with draining but the most achievable way of tacking moss is to make you grass very healthy. Raking a bit out is more aesthetics. You want to force the grass to grow stronger than the moss using the techniques above.
Top Tip; this is from me buy an edging tool and cut the border edges sharp it improves the appearance of even the tattiest lawn.
David's Top Tip For Dog Wee; Adding tomato juice to your dogs feeds will help reduce the acidity so you will not get yellow patches everywhere.
Further problems not regularly found in the text books include trenched holes created by horses escaping and scratched ill defined edges to the borders thanks to chickens! If you have the answer let me know.
David has a wonderful revolutionary new book out now call Modern Lawn Care.
Workshop 2016 is now over: Should you wish to atend a workshop in 2017 please inform us.
Modern Lawn Care 2016 with David Hedges-Gower Saturday 23rd April 10.30 to 1pm