By Kate Wall
Having a neat green lawn not only makes the garden look neat and tidy, it can look inviting and also add value to a property. It can give immense satisfaction, and yes, make your neighbours green with envy!
Having the best looking lawn on the street is not always easy to achieve, especially in times of drought, however with a little planning and care it need not be un-achievable. The biggest secret to great looking lawns is not necessarily lots of care, but consistent and regular care. Often good care will revive a damaged lawn, but sometimes you may simply have to start again. Either way, good planning will go a long way to ensuring the success of a lawn.
Planning for a great lawn will involve reviewing any problem areas you may have and deciding if the existing grass can be restored to healthy lawn. If you decide the existing grass is too damaged or the wrong type of grass, you will need to consider re-turfing. At this point take the time to choose your new turf carefully. When choosing a new turf you will need to evaluate turf options with regard to suitability for your own circumstances. By choosing the right grass type for your space you are halfway there as the grass will perform better with less care if it is well suited to the situation. You can find more information about how to choose the right turf variety here.
Consideration should also be given to tricky sites or problem areas – whether laying new turf or revamping an existing lawn. Consider if slope stabilisation is needed, is an area under a tree better off converted to garden or lawn alternatives? Do you have areas of high wear which would do better to have a path or stepping stones installed? These problem areas will significantly detract from the overall effect of an otherwise perfect lawn so are well worth addressing rather than struggling against.
Once the problem areas have been addressed and the turf is well laid, it is time to turn our attention to the care of the grass itself.
Lawns do not need to be high maintenance to work well, however to be the best lawn in the street, regular care is needed. This includes regular watering and mowing and taking the time to notice any damage while it is still small and easily repaired. A good lawn is one which is not subject to stress, so taking the time to provide the care a lawn needs before it shows signs of stress will be critical in maintaining a beautiful lawn.
The amount of water a lawn needs will vary according to grass type, amount of wear, exposure to sun and wind, soil type and climate. Generally a deep watering once a week is sufficient, but this could be more or less depending on your conditions. Always ensure you give a lawn a deep watering to encourage deep roots and a stronger plant. To be successful you should allow the lawn to dry out a little between watering as this will encourage deeper roots and reduce the risk of over watering and associated fungal issues.
Regular mowing is probably the most critical factor of all in keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful. The best lawn in the street is never left to grow long before it is cut, and therefore never looks untidy. Mowing height will need to be adjusted to suit your grass type and your preferred lawn length, but a couple of points to keep in mind are: mowing too short will scalp a lawn and cause stress; mowing too long will cause excess thatch build up and a spongy feel to the lawn which can harbour pests and diseases. Always ensure that at least a third of the green leaf blade remains after mowing and try to keep the lawn height in the range of 2-5cm. Regular mowing will mean only a small amount of leaf needs to be cut each time and the lawn will always look neat. Regular mowing will also encourage thick lawn growth which will out-compete weeds and reduce the chance of weed problems in the lawn. Regular mowing usually means weekly throughout the summer growing season.
Regular fertilising can make the difference between a good lawn and a great lawn. Always take care when fertilising to ensure you do not over-fertilise which can be more damaging to a lawn than not fertilising at all. Again, the amount you need to fertilise will depend on your lawn conditions. In general the more lawn clippings you remove from a lawn during a season, the more it will need fertilising. Therefore over summer when there is more to cut, the lawn will need more fertiliser than over winter when very little is happening. A regularly mown lawn will do well to be fertilised 4 times per year at low dose rates – usually spring, twice in summer and again in autumn. Organic or slow release fertilisers will give a more satisfactory result than fast acting fertilisers which only give a short burst of nutrition. During the growing season, or during high stress periods, a dose of seaweed emulsion will also be very beneficial to a lawn, just as it is to a garden. Check out Slow Release fertilisers here.
Even healthy lawns can suffer attack from pests and diseases. Regular attention will allow you to notice and address any problems while they are still small and easily dealt with. For more information regarding common pest and disease problems to be on the lookout for, click here.
Having the best lawn in the street is achievable for anyone who is willing to put in the time to give the lawn regular care. As with gardens, small amounts of care delivered often will produce a consistently neat and healthy lawn.
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