How to keep your lawn looking nice
How to keep your lawn looking nice – weeding, seeding and that fabulous striped effect!
Having a well maintained beautiful lawn that stays green and lush right throughout summer does require some work and dedication. However if you do it right, you can be the envy of the neighbourhood.
For a first class lawn, the area needs to be flat. So if you are considering installing a new lawn with turf or seeds, you do need to prepare the ground first by removing stones, weeds and raking it over to ensure the level is flat and even. Having your lawn bowling green flat will make it easier to mow in the future and you will always get a far better finish more easily.
Seeding a lawn
Sowing a new lawn from grass seed is not difficult. Once you have flattened and prepared the area, it takes between 5 to 30 days for the seeds to germinate and grow but it all depends on the local conditions and the type of seeds that you use.
In the UK you can sow grass seeds at any time between March and October, but the best time to sow is in early autumn. A few days before you sow your seeds you should fertilise the ground with a granular fertiliser. Then sprinkle over the grass seeds by hand at the rate that it advises you on the box of seeds. After you have sown the seeds, rake over the area and water.
After care is important. You will need to protect it from the birds so you can cover with netting or place bird scarers in place. You also need to avoid walking on the area. Keep the area damp with watering and weed by hand before they flower. Once the grass has grown to around 5cm, you can cut it, carefully raking up the grass cuttings until the lawn is established.
Turfing your lawn
Another option is to use turf. Your best choice is to buy this in from a supplier who will deliver it to your door and you should aim to lay the turf on the same day as delivery. You need to prepare your soil in much the same way as preparing the ground for seeding. Turf is usually delivered on a roll so just lay it over the prepared ground and make sure you keep it watered.
If you don’t want to start your lawn from scratch, you can bring an existing lawn back to great condition.
Remove the weeds
One issue that really spoils the appearance of any lawn is the emergence of weeds. There is really only one way to remove these and this is by hand but it does not need to be back breaking or overly hard labour.
You can find some great weeding tools on the market that are especially designed for lawns. A weed puller is a hand tool that you can operate from a standing position; the prongs penetrate the surface of the lawn and enable you to hook up even deep weed roots of invasive weeds such as dandelions. This tool does leave holes across the lawn but filling in these with fresh grass seed will help improve the appearance.
You can also use weed killer on your lawn throughout spring and summer if you don’t mind going down the chemical route.
Feeding the lawn
You can feed your lawn occasionally with liquid fertiliser and this will encourage new growth and healthy grass all year round. It is best to start this in spring, after you have already cut the grass a few times and the weather has started to warm up. You can feed it again in summer, roughly 12 weeks after the spring feed, and finally in September to maintain it over autumn and winter. You should always carry out any lawn feeding after you have cut the grass and not beforehand.
Watering the lawn
Lawns tend to dry out in summer and go brown and although this doesn’t kill the grass – it just goes dormant – it can be unattractive. To avoid this, you need to water it regularly.
In general, the expert advice is to water at least once a week in dry weather and to do this in the morning before the sun has a chance to evaporate the moisture. Grass roots lie at around 6 inches beneath the surface so to be effective the water needs to permeate down into the roots. If you cannot commit to watering your lawn regularly, it is far better to just leave it to nature, so the grass remains dormant. It will recover naturally once the dry spell is over.
Cutting the grass
Cutting the grass is crucial for the appearance and health of your lawn. According to gardening experts such as Alan Titchmarch you should mow the lawn once a week throughout the season, and twice a week if the weather is hot and humid.
Always mow your lawn when the grass is dry because it leads to a better finish. If you are using a rotary mower or cylinder mower, set the blades at around 3cm, raising this up a centimetre in dry weather so that the cut is not as severe. This is because longer grass stays greener than short grass , so leaving your lawn slightly longer will keep it looking better than a closely cut lawn.
If you are using a hover mower, you will need to do this by eye. However if you do want that manicured bowling green effect, a cylinder mower is far more effective than a rotary mower of hover mower.
How to get the striped effect on your lawn!
If you want a fabulous striped effect on your lawn, using a traditional cylinder mower with a built in roller will enable you achieve it with perfection. You need to mow in straight parallel lines, enabling the roller to bend the grass after it has been cut so that it all bends in the same direction. It is this action of the grass bend that gives it the appearance of stripes.
You should not stick to the same pattern when mowing in stripes or it will damage the grass. So the next time you mow, you need to vary the pattern. If you striped your lawn the first time by mowing north to south, change this to east /west, the next time, moving to south/ north the time after, then west/ east and eventually back to north / south again.
So that your lawn looks crisp and neat, you need to cut and define the edges, especially around paths, patios and borders. This enhances the appearance of the garden and makes the lawn look manicured as well as the rest of the garden. Doing this, can make even a less than perfect lawn appear far more groomed and neater than otherwise possible. The most traditional way of carrying out lawn edging is by use of a hand tool with a long handle which is similar to a spade but has a half moon shaped blade that cuts away roots at an even depth. To use, you simply move along the edge of your grass cutting as you go and it removes weeds and roots leaving a sharp crisp border.
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