June – so how are you all coping with the weather?

Anyone having recently laid new turf will be struggling to keep up with the rapid growth the current conditions seem to be causing.

My advice is still to just keep on top of the mowing the weeding and any pest infestations or other problems that may crop up such as: –

  • Leatherjackets – larvae of crane flies common in poorly drained turf. Turns the infected areas brown. Improving drainage is the only real prevention to this.
  • Red thread disease – often found in luxury hi grade lawns when underfed. Irregular patches of pink coloured grass up to a metre in diameter. Keeping the lawn fed is the key to keeping this at bay.
  • Dollar spot disease – same as above. But smaller patches of up to about 50mm in diameter. The prevention is like red thread above.
  • Bitch urine – circular brown patches with a ring of deep green grass surrounding each patch. You need to treat with a lot of water which even then only reduces the discolouration.

Rinse and repeat this through the summer months.

With watering try and get the soil moist deeper than just the surface, if you only ever get the top of the soil wet then the roots will stay shallow as they have no need to penetrate further. If when you are watering you can get the area wet enough that water soaks deeper into the soil, then you can water less often which will cause the roots to chase the moisture deeper into the soil. So as a rule of thumb – water longer but less often.

Enjoy

May – what happened to spring?

Talk about going from one extreme to the other, after waiting ages for the ground to dry out to a workable state it’s now gone as hard as concrete.

Just keeping that oasis of green watered is a full time job. Every time I glance out of the window I’m looking for a patch of brown where the sprays have not quite reached every bit. I do confess to doing a little dance of joy last time it rained. It’s surprising how you can view rain differently in the summer from week to week. One day it is a joy to see because the lawn needs it, then if it continues it’s a pain. And if its rain one day then sunny the next for a few days it grows like mental and then it is a struggle to keep up with the growth.

The hardest hit is the new lawns that have not got themselves an established root base to get at any moisture that does become available.

With a very hot dry spell the only thing to do is keep it as watered as you can. It’s better to keep watering than run out and do it just because it’s been dry and the lawn looks like it needs it. Then it’s just a case of watering a bit more if needed.

Now I know what you are thinking. “What if there is a hosepipe ban?” Well do not worry as this is what two o’clock in the morning was meant for. Some may say that ignoring the hosepipe ban is wrong but if like me you consider each blade of grass a member of your extended family then it is just a case of perspective.

Only joking……. honest.

Here are a few little tips to remember while enjoying the nice weather.

  • Move that garden furniture about so as not to stress one area from walking to and from the same spot, and to allow the grass underneath the furniture to breath.
  • Do not leave the hosepipe lying on the grass in one place as you will have a yellow line on the grass when you do finally move it.

If after a barbeque you decide to wash up outside do not tip the left-over hot water on the lawn as this will kill the grass if hot enough.

Most importantly, enjoy that garden.

April – where are those showers?

It should be April rain showers instead of snow or just sun,  normally it would have all gone green and be pushing upwards so fast that mower would have been coming out once a week by now. As soon as it does you should be aiming to get the grass height to that desired height of about 20-25mm (3/4-1 inch for the old school).

You should also have noticed it is not just the grass that is growing but those pesky weeds too. Keeping on top of these is a must and with regular mowing and good grass coverage new weeds should struggle to get a foothold.

Something else to keep an eye on is how well your soil retains moisture. A thin layer of thatch will help the soil retain moisture but too much (1 inch/25mm) will reduce water penetration when needed and will then become a thick wet blanket in the autumn. If you think you have too much, then aeration will help your lawn until autumn when some heavier scarifying can be done to remove it. Be wary if anyone suggests aerating with hollow tines and thence leaving all the cores from the tines to break down as a top dressing, it will take a long long time for these to break down and when they have they will leave old seeds from weeds and all manner of rubbish on top of the grass ready to germinate. Anyone suggesting this is an enemy of your lawn and should not be trusted near your hallowed turf. Honestly I bet they’d walk the wrong way up the mowing too

Ok I’m done for this edition, I hope you all continue to enjoy my warbling and if anyone has a question then by all means send them in.

Below is a reminder of what we are all aiming for…

March – Lawn Pests

We have covered what you should and should not be doing, you have maintained and sharpened all of your equipment during the cold weather now you are waiting for the sun to stay out and the temperature to rise and it all starts again. 

While you wait those last few weeks lets get up to speed on some of the pests that can be undermining your efforts hidden away beneath the surface.

Worms

Let us start with the common garden earthworm. Not actually a pest in the sense that it actively attacks your lawn, in fact they can have a beneficial effect aiding drainage by tunnelling lots of holes within the soil. However the type of worm that leaves worm casts are not the best at doing this and the downsides far outweigh the benefits.

We have talked about removing wormcasts before now, but I will quickly mention why they are undesirable. It is not just they are unsightly to look at but the knock on effects that arise from having casts on your lawn. Once flattened either underfoot or rolled into the turf with your mower’s rollers (or wheels should you be a some kind of heathen that has a mower without a roller) you have created an uneven surface and the grass blades below are now buried. This muddy surface is now open to weed invasion and a large worm population is likely to encourage moles.

Chemical worm treatments are not permitted but if you can discourage them indirectly by raising the acidity of your soil by using Lawn Sand.

Moles

Hard to miss, if you have a mole problem you know about it. It is not just the unpleasant mound of soil, they can also cause areas to sink as they tunnel beneath the surface destabilising it. They like a nice sandy stone free soil and mostly somewhere that does not receive a lot of attention, but no lawn is completely safe.

Rather than cure the problem when it happens it is best to prevent them ever being there, as mentioned above keeping your worm population (mole food) down is the answer. Once you are under invasion they not easy pests to get rid of. Personally I would opt for trapping them by using a professional mole catcher.

Leatherjackets

These are most certainly the worst of the insect bunch, Crane fly larvae laid in late summer hatch in autumn and it is the grubs that cause damage. They will feed on the roots and stem bases in the spring leaving you to look at patches of yellow or brown grass.

As they like a wet lawn then aerating and improving drainage is a good way to prevent an infestation, there are insecticides that can help.

Ants

Mainly it is the ant hill that is our issue, usually appearing during summer. Not as harmful as wormcasts however the particular ant that causes them (yellow turf ant) can also cause trouble with its activity below ground that can damage the roots and cause the grass leaf to yellow.

If you can find the nest then get a spade and open it up and cover the surface in ant powder.

Dogs

Its actually only the bitches that are the problem although no dog respects a lawn. Bitch urine has a scorching effect on turf leaving a circular brown patch with a ring of darker lush looking grass surrounding each patch. This is even worse in dry conditions.

Little can really be done other than really watering the patches, if they won’t go then reseeding or turfing is the only other way.

That’s it for now, be lucky.

Pretend its February…

The weather is getting better, lawn time approaches. Before you get going here is the rest of the lawn calendar.

July

You should by now be mowing regularly at the summer cut height. Should the weather be undergoing a (rare for England) dry spell then watering needs to take place.

Keep on the lookout for weeds encroaching on the green oasis, cutting them out with a knife (down to the root) if you can, avoiding chemicals as much as possible.

We are also into holiday season around this time so please do make watering and mowing arrangements to avoid having to plough through long grass when you return. It is not much fun and can impact the lawn if you remove too much grass in one go.

August

Not much change from the previous month. Keep on top of the lawn and conditions. Last month for weedkiller and feeding so if needed get on it.

By the end of the month sowing seed can take place.

September

Autumn lawn care starts here, mowing frequency will start to slow down and height of cut can go up a little.

There is a good chance of worms being more active so be on the lookout for casts, brushing them away is preferable to mowing over them as it is better to distribute the debris around rather than create a muddy splodge.

As the weather gets a bit wetter you can carry out any repairs needed. Scarification and spiking should take place and top dressing if required.

October

We are coming to the end of regular mowing. The height of cut can be raised and a good practice is to brush any dew present on the grass off before mowing.

Clearing up leaves needs to be done to avoid harm to the lawn, plus leaving them can increase the worm problem.

Should you have small tufts of coarse grass appearing then dig them out and re-seed the area.

November

All the time there is no frost present and it is not too wet so the surface is firm, give the lawn a last going over with the blades set nice and high. Then it is just a matter of removing worm casts and leaves.

Time to move onto maintaining your tools.

December

Keep it clean and tidy of worms and other detritus, keep off if it is wet of frozen. Should you need to repeatedly travel over it then put some boards down.

Merry Christmas!

Happy new year (ish)

January is out of the way and the weather is colder and there is snow on the ground. Not much to be done other than enjoy the wintery look.

I am going to crowbar a tip in here to say that should snowmen appear on your lawn then once the snow has melted the snowman will usually remain a while longer as it slowly melts into the ground. As fun as it can be to see the slowly shrinking shape, that area of grass is being saturated as the melting water permeates the soil. My advice is as soon as you think you can get away with it, break up the snow man and scatter the lumps about to melt over a larger area.

Let us start the year with a bit of a lawn calendar, a rough guide to what you should be doing as the year progresses. Lets just look at the first six months for now.

January

As you can assume there is little to do other than clear up fallen leaves and any other debris that dares infringe your lawnspace. But take care as walking on the grass when frozen or waterlogged can still cause harm. Get that mower overhauled and maintain your tools while you are denied mowing pleasure.

February

Depending on where you are its possible that you may be able to carry out some tasks should the temperature be acceptable, things like removing worm casts (do it when they are dry, so they scatter nicely). No mowing yet, patience.

March

This is the month that proper lawncare can begin. Once the grass is growing and the ground is firm enough, give the lawn a going over with a rake to remove some of the surface rubbish, not too hard for the moment to avoid causing damage to the grass. You might even be able to get in a light roll (a mower without the blades going or adjusted to its highest setting can be useful if you do not have a separate roller).

For the first cut we only want to be topping off the grass and not performing a “proper” cut. No need to get into a full mowing regime yet, a couple of times in March would be sufficient.

This is also a good time to have a look out for any diseases trying to take hold and then be prepared before they get a good foothold.

April

Start to mow more often ads the growing speeds up, avoid taking too much off in one go and resist the desire to lower the length from its winter height.

Weeding and feeding can take place later this month (only do this if any are growing as unnecessary treatments should be avoided).

Any repairs that need digging out can be done and then filled and dressing with seed or turf.

May

Mowing frequency will be picking up to about once a week now (although try to mow as needed rather than a fixed schedule) and you can also begin to lower the height as you move to summer.

This is a good month for weedkilling and other light treatments.

Soil will still be fairly moist but should a prolonged dry spell occur then try to water before you see the signs of stress.

June

Summer programme should be well under way, you will find yourself cutting more than once a week to keep up with the grass.

Summer feeding and weeding should take place if needed, spot treating weeds that may have survived an earlier dosing, if you can rake before mowing then do so as it will help keep the runners of clover under control.

That is all for now, see you next time.

Its December, last month of the year and a time for festive fun.

Unless you happen to be outside in the UK where it is wet cold and miserable.

If you have come looking for lawn advice, I am afraid you are out of luck! Have another read of the last bit of advice and pretty much keep re-reading that until spring arrives. It is all hibernating outside until winter is over.

However, Christmas is on the horizon and there is no better time to start thinking about a new mower (if you are like me anyway).

Just like any purchase there are decisions to make long before you start looking at different models and not just “should I but electric or petrol driven?” The answer is petrol by the way, every time.

I could shorten this blog considerably by just telling you to go out and buy a decent petrol driven rotary mower with a rear roller. In most people’s circumstances that is the best buy without question. I will see if I can explain why.

Why Petrol?

It doesn’t have a lead, this is a bit of a personal choice but the lead just annoys me. Actually they are often a bit more powerful too, so they can give a wider cut. The added weight of the engine also helps to roll the grass when combined with another must have which is the rear roller.

Why a rear roller?

Rolling a lawn is good for keeping it flat and even. It will flatten out any earth disturbed by small burrowing creatures and is also what gives you the nice stripes. Wheels can cause rutting unless you vary the direction of cutting often.

Why a rotary mower?

Because a cylinder is better! Slightly odd answer but I do have my reasons.

A cylinder mower that is sharp and has been set properly will always give a far superior finish than a rotary mower. The downside of this is a lot more care and attention will be required to keep the mower at its best. As a groundsman mowing large cricket outfields and other sports pitches, I used to start the morning adjusting the cylinder to make sure it was correctly set. This is fine when you are getting paid to do it, but a bit of a chore when its in your own time (and money if you mess it up). They are easily damaged as well, and any marks on the cutting surface will show up as you mow.

A rotary mower will take a little bit more punishment from the odd twig or small stone you may encounter without a noticeable effect. They are far easier to look after, as once they are attached there are no adjustments needed and they can also be removed with relative ease. You only need to check it looks sharp before you mow. A small tip is its worth inspecting the grass when you have finished to see what the snipped grass blade tip looks like. A nice clean cut is perfect, a badly cut straggly end tells you the blade needs a sharpen.

Ok so which mower?

Whichever you can afford and suits your size garden. I do have to admit to being completely out of touch with domestic mowers but like all things, the cheaper it is the less robust it will be.

What about a hover mower?

No. Just no.

My garden is huge, what about a ride on?

Lucky you, mostly the same advice as above really. A cylinder will be better but a rotary with rollers is good and considerably cheaper. If you can stretch to a grass collector with a roller attachment, then even better. Without the collector you will be leaving a lot of dead grass on the ground which will soon affect the look and state of your lawn due to it building up as dense thatch.

I hope that helps, so until next time Merry Christmas.

November has arrived so what should we do?

November, officially winter!

Well basically nothing new, carry on from now until spring in pretty much the same manner. Keep it free of debris and top off when conditions allow. But although lawn wise there is a lot less work to do, there are some important tasks that can be carried out.

Time to service the tools, not just engines but blades, hand tools and anything else you may employ to go about garden work.

Let us start simply with hand tools.

For starters do you use shears for edgings or other garden works, get them out and oil up any moving parts, clean the blades up and get them sharpened then oil these too while they are put away. This will stop them corroding while they are sitting unused during damper weather.

We do not need to restrict this to only tools that move or cut, do you have a spade or shovel (yes there is a difference and are different jobs)? Is it still clean and shiny? If not, then I guarantee it is making any task you use it for more difficult. Clean it up with wet and dry (sand paper will work too) and oil that as well.

Moving onto the bigger equipment brings us swiftly to the mower. Is the blade sharp? This is important as we want to be cutting the blades neatly, this will allow the grass to heal quickly. A blunt blade will leave a more ragged edge and will not heal as quickly, putting a further strain on the plant.

Now for the bit a lot of people would shy away from, servicing a petrol engine. This is so much easier than you may think and does not require a lot of kit to carry out. Most of the time the only thing required is a spanner/socket set to remove the spark plugs and in certain cases to undo a sump nut and change the oil. YouTube is full of useful videos on how to do this and quite possibly for exactly the item you own. I would assume a set of feeler gauges may not be in everyone’s tool kit (used for setting the correct gap on a spark plug) but these are a buy it once item which when looked after last a lifetime and more.

So get cleaning, you will be relying on this equipment in spring.

Its October, its England, its wetter…

Late October – officially Autumn

So your lawn should now be green or something is wrong, ok so there may be the occasional mud spot from a squished worm cast but overall it should be looking pretty lush.

At this point in the year the only task is topping off any growth and keeping it free of any leaves and rubbish.

Soon the temperature will start dropping and the first frosts will come so I thought a quick explanation of why that requires extra care would be a good idea.

Frost is an simply because the blades of grass transport water through them as they go about living and this will freeze if the temperature drops enough, water expands as it freezes which can then damage the cell walls of the grass blade.

With a light frost, this will not have penetrated as far as the ground, so the plant has a chance of healing the damage. However even a light frost over a few nights can lead to noticeable damage.

You can now easily imagine how walking upon the grass is to be avoided, the blades of grass are each completely frozen and as you step upon it the grass is crushed, this causes even more damage to the cells of the blade. It is possible to see footprints of damaged grass once the frost has thawed where it has been walked across.

Prevention is easy, stay off the grass! (Especially while frosty)

Almost bedtime for you lawn!

Late September – almost the end of summer

Well it is for lawns, however rather than read your lawn a bedtime story (although you can if you like) its more a case of bedtime scarify, repair and seed.

At this time of year, just before the temperature drops and we still have good growth going you can be a bit more aggressive with the scarifying and really rip out the dead matter, also carry out some aeration at the same time and then over seed the area.

You should repair any bald areas now (maybe de-compact if it’s worn from foot traffic) so it has a chance to take before winter. The healthier you can get your lawn now the better it will fare through winter.

Once you have finished these tasks and are prepped for winter you will then keep up with the usual maintenance but on a much reduced frequency.

I would still aim to mow reasonably regularly as even though you will only be topping of the grass (keeps it tidy and even) you will also be giving the lawn a regular roll at the same time (no roller on your mower? Stop reading this and buy one!). You will also be able to spot any weeds or unhealthy patches of lawn before they become a bigger problem.

One recommendation as the temperature falls is to raise the height of cut a little from the summer length. This allows the lawn to adjust to the cooler temperature.

And lastly, we come to leaves. The trees will be dropping and must be cleared from the lawn to enable a good upkeep. Sun and rain are the only things we want on our turf all year round so why would you allow leaves just to lie there. Not only do they look untidy, they block water and nutrients and stop a healthy air flow from getting to the root system (a waste of time aerating the lawn if you let them lie on it). If allowed to lie on the lawn all winter then come spring you will find they may have all matted down and are stopping new blades of grass from emerging.

Well that will do, go on you’ve got work to do!

Stripes all the way

End July – hope you all have lush lawns

Welcome all, I hope you are all well and your lawns are lush. We still seem to be having some amazing weather at the moment. Proper English weather, if you do not like it do not worry it will change in five minutes.

At this time as the only jobs needed are mowing, watering, weeding and enjoying your space. Plus of course showing off your lush green oasis.

The good news is the growth rate will start to slow down a bit, keeping on top of the lawn growth will be easier to keep up with. This will please the maintenance team (emma@cgla.co.uk) who often take on gardens with new lawns that grow like mad for the first season.

It is time we should start to talk about the autumn tasks, early yes but only so we are ready with the tools and an idea of what we are going to do when the season arrives. Plus some tips for when the weather stays a bit wetter.

Scarification- you may have done this in the spring however this time we can be a bit more aggressive. Done properly thid should look pretty dramatic but you will really only have torn out the rubbish and any grass removed will just be shallow rooted and therefore not to be concerned about. I would always over-seed with something appropriate for the lawn (consider shade and soil types as you can get seed suitable for many settings).

Mowing- Things will slow down as the temperature drops so mowing can be carried out a little less frequently as the year progresses. I usually raise the cutting height one notch and then just keep topping it off as it grows to keep things looking tidy.

Any mud you make once the growing season is over is not likely to come back before next season. So when mowing you need to be careful of repeatedly rolling the same areas again and again. You can end up rolling the blades of grass into the surface of the soil as it gets softer each time you pass over it.

Also when using a mower that propels itself with a rear roller there is a tendency for them to slip when starting to move or going up even a slight slope. Basically you are just doing a wheel spin on an already soft area smearing mud over the blades of grass.

Aerating- I explained the benefits of aeration in the spring in detail so I won’t bore you all again, what I will say is doing it in autumn will relieve the compaction that has built up from using the garden all summer. Mainly frequently walked areas (to the shed/washing line etc).

Over-seeding- mix some seed with some top dressing and work it into the grass.

Topdressing- a suitable soil mix that can be worked into the lawn to fill any dips or bumps. Can be combined with seed if repairing an area or after scarifying.

Feeding- a suitable autumn feed can be applied to see the lawn through the winter but be wary of doing this to soon before or after seeding as you can scorch the new growth. Two weeks should be a sufficient gap.

Always worth remembering any work you do in the autumn will pay dividends come the following year.

Tips

  • Any chairs or tables are likely to sink which creates more damage to repair in the autumn when you do your annual work to put the lawn to bed for winter. Try to move them about, it may look like you are getting some free aeration with every chair leg that sinks in, in reality you are just helping to compact the lawn.
  • Vary the route you take up and down the garden as well so as not to ruin the areas on the way to washing lines or sheds/greenhouses.

Here is a general tip for all year round, assuming that you use a mower with a built in rear roller (if you do not, get out now and purchase one) you should have light and dark stripes running up and down your lawn. Always walk up the light stripes, you are then walking with the way the grass is laying, if you go the opposite direction your feet catch the blades and lift them up and this leaves visible marks of where you have been.

Okay so not following the above does no harm and causes no issues, it will just keep things looking tidy for longer.

Lockdown with a lawn

Late June – so how are you all coping with the weather?

I for one, have looked at lockdown with a glass half full, thankful that the current situation didn’t happen in winter while the lawn is asleep. Spring scarification has been carried out to a whole new level, garden centres opened when I needed seed and feeds. Time to tend to each blade of grass individually.

If you are wondering what pests to keep an eye out for then keep a look out for these:

Leatherjackets 

Larvae of crane flies common in poorly drained turf. Turns the infected areas brow

Often the problem is not so much the leatherjackets themselves as the animals that love to feed on them! Badgers in particular can seriously trash a lawn (see below) and I have seen newly laid turf thrown around by the pesky critters as if a bunch of vandals have done it.

Improving drainage is the only real prevention to this.

Red thread disease

This is a fungal disease often found in luxury high grade lawns when underfed. Irregular patches of pink coloured grass up to a metre in diameter. Keeping the lawn fed is the key to keeping this at bay, as well as good aeration and reducing surface moisture- irrigation should be set for a good soak and the lawn allowed to dry out in between at the surface. In most cases it will disappear of its own accord after a few weeks, but if prolonged, we can treat with a systemic fungicide which will protect for around 6-8 weeks. The good news is that red thread does not cause long term damage to your lawn although it can be unsightly and often betrays wider nutrition issues

Dollar spot disease

Same as red thread disease, another fungal disease. But smaller patches of up to about 50mm in diameter. It usually occurs in Summer and Autumn when there is high humidity and little air movement. The prevention is similar to red thread above- it is typically exacerbated by low fertility and excessively low mowing height

Animal urine

Circular brown patches with a ring of deep green grass surrounding each patch. This is caused by the nitrogen in the urine being too concentrated and killing the grass at its centre, and then becoming dilute at the edges to the point at which it acts as a fertiliser. You need to treat with a lot of water which even then only reduces the discolouration. You may end up having to patch repair. There are products that reduce the potential for burn such as Dog rocks although these seem to have mixed results.

General Good Advice

Other things to do if you are in a hot dry spell is keep the grass topped off, stay on top of the broadleaf weeds and water, water, water. The hardest hit are the new lawns that have not got themselves an established root base to get at any moisture that does become available.

A note on watering:

Remember that deep saturation is what you need, more so than regular light watering. If the water can soak deeper into the soil then as the top dries the roots will penetrate deeper to get to the water, if all you manage is to wet the very top the roots will have no reason to establish to a deeper level. Longer but less often is the trick.

Last of all a few tips to remember for while you enjoy the weather.

    • Move that garden furniture about so as not to stress one area from walking to and from the same spot, and to allow the grass underneath the furniture to breathe.
    • Don’t leave the hosepipe lying on the grass in one place as you will have a yellow line on the grass when you do finally move it.
    • If after a barbeque you decide to wash up outside do not tip the left over hot water on the lawn as this will kill the grass if hot enough.

Always look on the bright side…..

How to take care of your lawn

 

Late April-Early May-pretty strange weather, time for a quick lawn blog.

Hail lawn lovers,

At this time of year we are often asked about watering and feeding regimes. The most important thing to do is to water when needed, mow when needed and feed when needed. This sounds unhelpful in some ways, but never believe anyone telling you that they can put together an exact plan for when they will mow, weed, feed etc- it all depends on the weather, your lawn and site (including drainage, shade, irrigation, lawn type and wear), and your cutting and maintenance regime.

Watering

Even in hot dry times a lawn will almost always eventually recover without watering (unlike many plants), but if you want a green lawn you will need to water it. Try to water weekly rather than daily, and if you can do this when it is cool you will lose less water to evaporation. New turf is a different kettle of fish and will die without regular watering  (it takes a while for the roots to grow into the ground and be resilient enough to survive a drought). You may wish to refer to our general watering guide here.

Feeding

It is the same with feeding- whilst there are common times to feed and weed, you are best to do so when it needs it. Weed when there are weeds! For feeding, mid Spring is a pretty good bet, using a proprietary feed, applied when the ground is moist or when rain is expected.

Overseeding

If you have bare patches after removing moss or weeds or just sparse areas then overseeding now is a good time… (you can also do in mid Autumn)

  • Break up the surface with a fork and rake it to make a reasonably fine surface.
  • Sow grass seed at half the recommended rate or, where there are no recommendations, at 10-15g per sq m
  • Lightly rake to incorporate the seed into the surface.
  • Where birds are a problem, net the area.
  • If the weather remains dry for two or three days water gently with a sprinkler.
  • Grass should sprout seven to 10 days after sowing.

In heavily used areas, choose a hardwearing utility mix containing ryegrass. Most lawn grasses do not thrive in shade, so for these areas choose a shade-tolerant mix.

If you have questions about your lawn do feel free to contact us here

We will aim to get back to you within 24 hours and will share questions of general appeal on this blog

While we are talking about general questions, I thought I would just run over some tips to remember as you are perhaps at home and giving your lawn a bit more attention than normal!

These are in no particular order but are just the little things that help.

  • Never re-fuel anything while still on the lawn, any spillage will kill the grass and undo your hard work.
  • When applying any fertiliser or other treatment, doing two applications at ninety degrees to each other at half strength is better than one application at full strength if you make a mistake.
  • Always walk on the light stripes, stops your footprints being visible.
  • Regularly walk your lawn, this way you can keep an eye out for damage, weeds etc. Don’t rely on mowing for this as you should be concentrating on straight lines.
  • Regular brushing is good for covering the point above and grooming your lawn as you go
  • Try to cut out weeds with a knife as you find them making sure to get the root out.
  • Regular mowing is important, once a week in spring and autumn. In the summer its best not to let the grass get more than half an inch above the desired height so you may find yourself mowing twice a week if necessary.
  • Under no circumstances allow anyone to set foot upon your lawn. It is for admiring and no more (!)
  • I mean it, absolutely no one who isn’t on gardening business, point out the rule about walking on the light stripes if it can’t be avoided.
  • Keep the blades on you mower sharp as a clean cut is best.
  • Regular maintenance is better than fixing problems.

That’s all I am going to say for now, I can only show you the door you’re the one that has to walk through it.

April – Spring is in the air, time for a quick lawn blog.

After what has seemed like months of rain or at least every weekend, we have finally had a few days of sunshine.  So this got me thinking, why don’t I resurrect my ‘year in the life of your lawn blog’, it’s all good stuff to know as you tend to your lawn and will take you away from the trials of the outside world while you enjoy the peace of your garden.

I’ll start by talking about what you need to be doing now the sun is coming out…

Hail to the turf baby 

Here begins our journey, hope your all keeping well and trying to enjoy the forced time in your homes and gardens.  With the weather improving  I hope you have been getting up to speed on the spring jobs. It’s all gone green and is pushing upwards so that mower should be coming out once a week now and we should be aiming to get the grass height to that desired height of about 20-25mm (3/4 to 1 inch for the old school).

You will also have noticed it’s not just the grass that is growing but those pesky weeds too. Keeping on top of these is a must and with regular mowing and good grass coverage new weeds should struggle to get a foothold.

Something else to keep an eye on is how well your soil retains moisture. A thin layer of thatch will help the soil retain moisture but too much (1 inch/25mm) will reduce water penetration when needed and will then become a thick wet blanket in the autumn. If you think you have too much then aeration will help your lawn until autumn when some heavier scarifying can be done to remove it. Be wary if anyone suggests aerating with hollow tines and thence leaving all the cores from the tines to break down as a top dressing, it will take a long long time for these to break down and when they have, they will leave old seeds from weeds and all manner of rubbish on top of the grass ready to germinate. Anyone suggesting this is an enemy of your lawn and should not be trusted near your hallowed turf. Honestly I bet they’d walk the wrong way up the mowing too.

Ok I’m done for this edition, I hope you all enjoy my warbling and if anyone has a question then by all means send them in.

Till next time, keep it groovy and give me some sugar, baby.

And finally aerate and top dress if needed mixing a little grass seed with the dressing as well. Then once you get round to spring again just continue with routine spring maintenance.

So even though you don’t get the great lawn this year if you do what is needed then next year things should look a lot better than they do now.

That’s it for this week, I’ll be back.

Carl

Its December, last month of the year and a time for festive fun.

Unless you happen to be outside in the UK where it is wet cold and miserable.

If you have come looking for lawn advice, I am afraid you are out of luck! Have another read of the last bit of advice and pretty much keep re-reading that until spring arrives. It is all hibernating outside until winter is over.

However, Christmas is on the horizon and there is no better time to start thinking about a new mower (if you are like me anyway).

Just like any purchase there are decisions to make long before you start looking at different models and not just “should I but electric or petrol driven?” The answer is petrol by the way, every time.

I could shorten this blog considerably by just telling you to go out and buy a decent petrol driven rotary mower with a rear roller. In most people’s circumstances that is the best buy without question. I will see if I can explain why.

Why Petrol?

It doesn’t have a lead, this is a bit of a personal choice but the lead just annoys me. Actually they are often a bit more powerful too, so they can give a wider cut. The added weight of the engine also helps to roll the grass when combined with another must have which is the rear roller.

Why a rear roller?

Rolling a lawn is good for keeping it flat and even. It will flatten out any earth disturbed by small burrowing creatures and is also what gives you the nice stripes. Wheels can cause rutting unless you vary the direction of cutting often.

Why a rotary mower?

Because a cylinder is better! Slightly odd answer but I do have my reasons.

A cylinder mower that is sharp and has been set properly will always give a far superior finish than a rotary mower. The downside of this is a lot more care and attention will be required to keep the mower at its best. As a groundsman mowing large cricket outfields and other sports pitches, I used to start the morning adjusting the cylinder to make sure it was correctly set. This is fine when you are getting paid to do it, but a bit of a chore when its in your own time (and money if you mess it up). They are easily damaged as well, and any marks on the cutting surface will show up as you mow.

A rotary mower will take a little bit more punishment from the odd twig or small stone you may encounter without a noticeable effect. They are far easier to look after, as once they are attached there are no adjustments needed and they can also be removed with relative ease. You only need to check it looks sharp before you mow. A small tip is its worth inspecting the grass when you have finished to see what the snipped grass blade tip looks like. A nice clean cut is perfect, a badly cut straggly end tells you the blade needs a sharpen.

Ok so which mower?

Whichever you can afford and suits your size garden. I do have to admit to being completely out of touch with domestic mowers but like all things, the cheaper it is the less robust it will be.

What about a hover mower?

No. Just no.

My garden is huge, what about a ride on?

Lucky you, mostly the same advice as above really. A cylinder will be better but a rotary with rollers is good and considerably cheaper. If you can stretch to a grass collector with a roller attachment, then even better. Without the collector you will be leaving a lot of dead grass on the ground which will soon affect the look and state of your lawn due to it building up as dense thatch.

I hope that helps, so until next time Merry Christmas.

November has arrived so what should we do?

November, officially winter!

Well basically nothing new, carry on from now until spring in pretty much the same manner. Keep it free of debris and top off when conditions allow. But although lawn wise there is a lot less work to do, there are some important tasks that can be carried out.

Time to service the tools, not just engines but blades, hand tools and anything else you may employ to go about garden work.

Let us start simply with hand tools.

For starters do you use shears for edgings or other garden works, get them out and oil up any moving parts, clean the blades up and get them sharpened then oil these too while they are put away. This will stop them corroding while they are sitting unused during damper weather.

We do not need to restrict this to only tools that move or cut, do you have a spade or shovel (yes there is a difference and are different jobs)? Is it still clean and shiny? If not, then I guarantee it is making any task you use it for more difficult. Clean it up with wet and dry (sand paper will work too) and oil that as well.

Moving onto the bigger equipment brings us swiftly to the mower. Is the blade sharp? This is important as we want to be cutting the blades neatly, this will allow the grass to heal quickly. A blunt blade will leave a more ragged edge and will not heal as quickly, putting a further strain on the plant.

Now for the bit a lot of people would shy away from, servicing a petrol engine. This is so much easier than you may think and does not require a lot of kit to carry out. Most of the time the only thing required is a spanner/socket set to remove the spark plugs and in certain cases to undo a sump nut and change the oil. YouTube is full of useful videos on how to do this and quite possibly for exactly the item you own. I would assume a set of feeler gauges may not be in everyone’s tool kit (used for setting the correct gap on a spark plug) but these are a buy it once item which when looked after last a lifetime and more.

So get cleaning, you will be relying on this equipment in spring.

Its October, its England, its wetter…

Late October – officially Autumn

So your lawn should now be green or something is wrong, ok so there may be the occasional mud spot from a squished worm cast but overall it should be looking pretty lush.

At this point in the year the only task is topping off any growth and keeping it free of any leaves and rubbish.

Soon the temperature will start dropping and the first frosts will come so I thought a quick explanation of why that requires extra care would be a good idea.

Frost is an simply because the blades of grass transport water through them as they go about living and this will freeze if the temperature drops enough, water expands as it freezes which can then damage the cell walls of the grass blade.

With a light frost, this will not have penetrated as far as the ground, so the plant has a chance of healing the damage. However even a light frost over a few nights can lead to noticeable damage.

You can now easily imagine how walking upon the grass is to be avoided, the blades of grass are each completely frozen and as you step upon it the grass is crushed, this causes even more damage to the cells of the blade. It is possible to see footprints of damaged grass once the frost has thawed where it has been walked across.

Prevention is easy, stay off the grass! (Especially while frosty)

Almost bedtime for you lawn!

Late September – almost the end of summer

Well it is for lawns, however rather than read your lawn a bedtime story (although you can if you like) its more a case of bedtime scarify, repair and seed.

At this time of year, just before the temperature drops and we still have good growth going you can be a bit more aggressive with the scarifying and really rip out the dead matter, also carry out some aeration at the same time and then over seed the area.

You should repair any bald areas now (maybe de-compact if it’s worn from foot traffic) so it has a chance to take before winter. The healthier you can get your lawn now the better it will fare through winter.

Once you have finished these tasks and are prepped for winter you will then keep up with the usual maintenance but on a much reduced frequency.

I would still aim to mow reasonably regularly as even though you will only be topping of the grass (keeps it tidy and even) you will also be giving the lawn a regular roll at the same time (no roller on your mower? Stop reading this and buy one!). You will also be able to spot any weeds or unhealthy patches of lawn before they become a bigger problem.

One recommendation as the temperature falls is to raise the height of cut a little from the summer length. This allows the lawn to adjust to the cooler temperature.

And lastly, we come to leaves. The trees will be dropping and must be cleared from the lawn to enable a good upkeep. Sun and rain are the only things we want on our turf all year round so why would you allow leaves just to lie there. Not only do they look untidy, they block water and nutrients and stop a healthy air flow from getting to the root system (a waste of time aerating the lawn if you let them lie on it). If allowed to lie on the lawn all winter then come spring you will find they may have all matted down and are stopping new blades of grass from emerging.

Well that will do, go on you’ve got work to do!

Stripes all the way

End July – hope you all have lush lawns

Welcome all, I hope you are all well and your lawns are lush. We still seem to be having some amazing weather at the moment. Proper English weather, if you do not like it do not worry it will change in five minutes.

At this time as the only jobs needed are mowing, watering, weeding and enjoying your space. Plus of course showing off your lush green oasis.

The good news is the growth rate will start to slow down a bit, keeping on top of the lawn growth will be easier to keep up with. This will please the maintenance team (emma@cgla.co.uk) who often take on gardens with new lawns that grow like mad for the first season.

It is time we should start to talk about the autumn tasks, early yes but only so we are ready with the tools and an idea of what we are going to do when the season arrives. Plus some tips for when the weather stays a bit wetter.

Scarification- you may have done this in the spring however this time we can be a bit more aggressive. Done properly thid should look pretty dramatic but you will really only have torn out the rubbish and any grass removed will just be shallow rooted and therefore not to be concerned about. I would always over-seed with something appropriate for the lawn (consider shade and soil types as you can get seed suitable for many settings).

Mowing- Things will slow down as the temperature drops so mowing can be carried out a little less frequently as the year progresses. I usually raise the cutting height one notch and then just keep topping it off as it grows to keep things looking tidy.

Any mud you make once the growing season is over is not likely to come back before next season. So when mowing you need to be careful of repeatedly rolling the same areas again and again. You can end up rolling the blades of grass into the surface of the soil as it gets softer each time you pass over it.

Also when using a mower that propels itself with a rear roller there is a tendency for them to slip when starting to move or going up even a slight slope. Basically you are just doing a wheel spin on an already soft area smearing mud over the blades of grass.

Aerating- I explained the benefits of aeration in the spring in detail so I won’t bore you all again, what I will say is doing it in autumn will relieve the compaction that has built up from using the garden all summer. Mainly frequently walked areas (to the shed/washing line etc).

Over-seeding- mix some seed with some top dressing and work it into the grass.

Topdressing- a suitable soil mix that can be worked into the lawn to fill any dips or bumps. Can be combined with seed if repairing an area or after scarifying.

Feeding- a suitable autumn feed can be applied to see the lawn through the winter but be wary of doing this to soon before or after seeding as you can scorch the new growth. Two weeks should be a sufficient gap.

Always worth remembering any work you do in the autumn will pay dividends come the following year.

Tips

  • Any chairs or tables are likely to sink which creates more damage to repair in the autumn when you do your annual work to put the lawn to bed for winter. Try to move them about, it may look like you are getting some free aeration with every chair leg that sinks in, in reality you are just helping to compact the lawn.
  • Vary the route you take up and down the garden as well so as not to ruin the areas on the way to washing lines or sheds/greenhouses.

Here is a general tip for all year round, assuming that you use a mower with a built in rear roller (if you do not, get out now and purchase one) you should have light and dark stripes running up and down your lawn. Always walk up the light stripes, you are then walking with the way the grass is laying, if you go the opposite direction your feet catch the blades and lift them up and this leaves visible marks of where you have been.

Okay so not following the above does no harm and causes no issues, it will just keep things looking tidy for longer.

Lockdown with a lawn

Late June – so how are you all coping with the weather?

I for one, have looked at lockdown with a glass half full, thankful that the current situation didn’t happen in winter while the lawn is asleep. Spring scarification has been carried out to a whole new level, garden centres opened when I needed seed and feeds. Time to tend to each blade of grass individually.

If you are wondering what pests to keep an eye out for then keep a look out for these:

Leatherjackets 

Larvae of crane flies common in poorly drained turf. Turns the infected areas brow

Often the problem is not so much the leatherjackets themselves as the animals that love to feed on them! Badgers in particular can seriously trash a lawn (see below) and I have seen newly laid turf thrown around by the pesky critters as if a bunch of vandals have done it.

Improving drainage is the only real prevention to this.

Red thread disease

This is a fungal disease often found in luxury high grade lawns when underfed. Irregular patches of pink coloured grass up to a metre in diameter. Keeping the lawn fed is the key to keeping this at bay, as well as good aeration and reducing surface moisture- irrigation should be set for a good soak and the lawn allowed to dry out in between at the surface. In most cases it will disappear of its own accord after a few weeks, but if prolonged, we can treat with a systemic fungicide which will protect for around 6-8 weeks. The good news is that red thread does not cause long term damage to your lawn although it can be unsightly and often betrays wider nutrition issues

Dollar spot disease

Same as red thread disease, another fungal disease. But smaller patches of up to about 50mm in diameter. It usually occurs in Summer and Autumn when there is high humidity and little air movement. The prevention is similar to red thread above- it is typically exacerbated by low fertility and excessively low mowing height

Animal urine

Circular brown patches with a ring of deep green grass surrounding each patch. This is caused by the nitrogen in the urine being too concentrated and killing the grass at its centre, and then becoming dilute at the edges to the point at which it acts as a fertiliser. You need to treat with a lot of water which even then only reduces the discolouration. You may end up having to patch repair. There are products that reduce the potential for burn such as Dog rocks although these seem to have mixed results.

General Good Advice

Other things to do if you are in a hot dry spell is keep the grass topped off, stay on top of the broadleaf weeds and water, water, water. The hardest hit are the new lawns that have not got themselves an established root base to get at any moisture that does become available.

A note on watering:

Remember that deep saturation is what you need, more so than regular light watering. If the water can soak deeper into the soil then as the top dries the roots will penetrate deeper to get to the water, if all you manage is to wet the very top the roots will have no reason to establish to a deeper level. Longer but less often is the trick.

Last of all a few tips to remember for while you enjoy the weather.

    • Move that garden furniture about so as not to stress one area from walking to and from the same spot, and to allow the grass underneath the furniture to breathe.
    • Don’t leave the hosepipe lying on the grass in one place as you will have a yellow line on the grass when you do finally move it.
    • If after a barbeque you decide to wash up outside do not tip the left over hot water on the lawn as this will kill the grass if hot enough.

Always look on the bright side…..

How to take care of your lawn

 

Late April-Early May-pretty strange weather, time for a quick lawn blog.

Hail lawn lovers,

At this time of year we are often asked about watering and feeding regimes. The most important thing to do is to water when needed, mow when needed and feed when needed. This sounds unhelpful in some ways, but never believe anyone telling you that they can put together an exact plan for when they will mow, weed, feed etc- it all depends on the weather, your lawn and site (including drainage, shade, irrigation, lawn type and wear), and your cutting and maintenance regime.

Watering

Even in hot dry times a lawn will almost always eventually recover without watering (unlike many plants), but if you want a green lawn you will need to water it. Try to water weekly rather than daily, and if you can do this when it is cool you will lose less water to evaporation. New turf is a different kettle of fish and will die without regular watering  (it takes a while for the roots to grow into the ground and be resilient enough to survive a drought). You may wish to refer to our general watering guide here.

Feeding

It is the same with feeding- whilst there are common times to feed and weed, you are best to do so when it needs it. Weed when there are weeds! For feeding, mid Spring is a pretty good bet, using a proprietary feed, applied when the ground is moist or when rain is expected.

Overseeding

If you have bare patches after removing moss or weeds or just sparse areas then overseeding now is a good time… (you can also do in mid Autumn)

  • Break up the surface with a fork and rake it to make a reasonably fine surface.
  • Sow grass seed at half the recommended rate or, where there are no recommendations, at 10-15g per sq m
  • Lightly rake to incorporate the seed into the surface.
  • Where birds are a problem, net the area.
  • If the weather remains dry for two or three days water gently with a sprinkler.
  • Grass should sprout seven to 10 days after sowing.

In heavily used areas, choose a hardwearing utility mix containing ryegrass. Most lawn grasses do not thrive in shade, so for these areas choose a shade-tolerant mix.

If you have questions about your lawn do feel free to contact us here

We will aim to get back to you within 24 hours and will share questions of general appeal on this blog

While we are talking about general questions, I thought I would just run over some tips to remember as you are perhaps at home and giving your lawn a bit more attention than normal!

These are in no particular order but are just the little things that help.

  • Never re-fuel anything while still on the lawn, any spillage will kill the grass and undo your hard work.
  • When applying any fertiliser or other treatment, doing two applications at ninety degrees to each other at half strength is better than one application at full strength if you make a mistake.
  • Always walk on the light stripes, stops your footprints being visible.
  • Regularly walk your lawn, this way you can keep an eye out for damage, weeds etc. Don’t rely on mowing for this as you should be concentrating on straight lines.
  • Regular brushing is good for covering the point above and grooming your lawn as you go
  • Try to cut out weeds with a knife as you find them making sure to get the root out.
  • Regular mowing is important, once a week in spring and autumn. In the summer its best not to let the grass get more than half an inch above the desired height so you may find yourself mowing twice a week if necessary.
  • Under no circumstances allow anyone to set foot upon your lawn. It is for admiring and no more (!)
  • I mean it, absolutely no one who isn’t on gardening business, point out the rule about walking on the light stripes if it can’t be avoided.
  • Keep the blades on you mower sharp as a clean cut is best.
  • Regular maintenance is better than fixing problems.

That’s all I am going to say for now, I can only show you the door you’re the one that has to walk through it.

April – Spring is in the air, time for a quick lawn blog.

After what has seemed like months of rain or at least every weekend, we have finally had a few days of sunshine.  So this got me thinking, why don’t I resurrect my ‘year in the life of your lawn blog’, it’s all good stuff to know as you tend to your lawn and will take you away from the trials of the outside world while you enjoy the peace of your garden.

I’ll start by talking about what you need to be doing now the sun is coming out…

Hail to the turf baby 

Here begins our journey, hope your all keeping well and trying to enjoy the forced time in your homes and gardens.  With the weather improving  I hope you have been getting up to speed on the spring jobs. It’s all gone green and is pushing upwards so that mower should be coming out once a week now and we should be aiming to get the grass height to that desired height of about 20-25mm (3/4 to 1 inch for the old school).

You will also have noticed it’s not just the grass that is growing but those pesky weeds too. Keeping on top of these is a must and with regular mowing and good grass coverage new weeds should struggle to get a foothold.

Something else to keep an eye on is how well your soil retains moisture. A thin layer of thatch will help the soil retain moisture but too much (1 inch/25mm) will reduce water penetration when needed and will then become a thick wet blanket in the autumn. If you think you have too much then aeration will help your lawn until autumn when some heavier scarifying can be done to remove it. Be wary if anyone suggests aerating with hollow tines and thence leaving all the cores from the tines to break down as a top dressing, it will take a long long time for these to break down and when they have, they will leave old seeds from weeds and all manner of rubbish on top of the grass ready to germinate. Anyone suggesting this is an enemy of your lawn and should not be trusted near your hallowed turf. Honestly I bet they’d walk the wrong way up the mowing too.

Ok I’m done for this edition, I hope you all enjoy my warbling and if anyone has a question then by all means send them in.

Till next time, keep it groovy and give me some sugar, baby.

And finally aerate and top dress if needed mixing a little grass seed with the dressing as well. Then once you get round to spring again just continue with routine spring maintenance.

So even though you don’t get the great lawn this year if you do what is needed then next year things should look a lot better than they do now.

That’s it for this week, I’ll be back.

Carl