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