There is nothing as redolent of an English summer as a classic billiard table lawn. Immaculate stripes of green basking in the sunshine with a strategically placed table and parasol for that all-important afternoon tea.
These days, fewer people seem to have the courage to opt for a lawn but you don’t have to take the popular route of decking or paving for your outdoor areas. With a little preparation and thought, lovely lawns are not that hard to achieve and the results are really worth it. The Royal Horticultural Society has chapter and verse advice on keeping your lawn looking lovely all summer long, but here is our whistle-stop guide
Yes, this is an unavoidable chore but who doesn’t love the smell of freshly cut grass! Try and mow weekly during the summer months. Don’t fall into the trap of cutting your lawn too short. You will just encourage moss and weeds to thrive. Aim for a height of around one inch and collect all clippings – they make the most perfect compost. Avoid mowing when the grass is wet as you get a more uneven cut and can clog up your mower.
Water water everywhere…
…but never when you need it! Summer lawns need water but as you may have observed, rainfall in daylight hours just doesn’t seem to make any difference. This is because the rainwater just evaporates in the higher temperatures. Water your lawn at dawn or dusk and really soak the lawn. You need moisture to reach to a depth of 10cm every week as this will promote deep roots. Think about how your lawn would be after a day of good old-fashioned English summer rain.
The heat is on
Remember the summer of 2018, how do you manage a lawn during a prolonged dry period? The lawn needs water when the soil is dry even if the grass hasn’t yet lost colour intensity. To help the lawn benefit more from watering, spike or aerate hard soil with a garden fork – this promotes absorption. Water in the early morning or even after dark to minimise lost moisture through evaporation. Don’t panic if a hosepipe ban is looming in drought conditions. If you overwater, the lawn will be less tolerant if subsequently deprived of water – watering weekly or every ten days is sufficient.
Weeds and moss
Encouraging a good, thick sward will keep weeds and moss to a minimum as there will be no space for them. Regular cutting and lawn management is key, but if your lawn has enjoyed less than good husbandry in the past, then you may need to treat weeds and moss that has already got a foothold. You can use a weed killer with a spot spray or gun or hose attachment for a larger area.
Research carefully the exact weeds you want to target as weed killers are quite specific and spraying times may depend on the lifecycle of the actual plant.
Before reaching for chemical treatments consider organic alternatives which can produce just as good a finish.
Good, persistent lawn care such as scarifying (vigorous raking) to remove dead grass and moss plus manual weeding, will also reduce your reliance on chemical ridden alternatives.
Avoid the ‘easy to reach for’ product and adopt the more ecologically friendly approach of year-round good grass management.
Lawns are an important element of the biodiversity in your garden and can support many beneficial bugs and insects. Be aware of the importance of co-existing with nature and supporting a balanced ecology. Learn more about who you should be welcoming into your garden here.
Once the grass starts growing in spring and you are cutting, give your grass a boost with a lawn feed or fertiliser. Try to apply before rain is forecast. Timing is important as lawn feed is not really beneficial after August and could be actively detrimental. Read carefully about the dilution if you are using pellets as if the liquid is too strong, it can end up scorching the grass.
Stripe it up
If you want stripes, you need a mower with a rear roller which is utilised on every other line to give the classic two-tone effect.
Creating tramlines as they are called is quite a challenge. Don’t be too ambitious to start with and sketch out your design first on paper. The hardest part is keeping straight and what to do at the end of the line. Our helpful blog goes into more detail.
Once you get the technique, the world is your oyster when it comes to pretty patterns.
If your lawn is your pride and joy you may want to divert pets and children to another area of the garden earmarked just for their activities. Spend a little time planning a play area. With careful thought and a little imagination, you don’t need to spend out on expensive equipment or, even need a large space. For some good ideas, take a look here.
Dog urine, in particular, can leave those telltale brown patches where the grass has become burnt. If you do spot an unfortunate event, spray copious amounts of water on the area where the dog has urinated as soon as possible to dilute the burning effect of the nitrogen. If you have some to hand, a bit of horticultural lime added to the water will further help to neutralise the acid.
Brown areas that cannot be repaired can be re-patched quite simply with new turf. Or, you can cut out the old turf, roughly fork over the soil and re-seed after adding in a little compost or fresh topsoil. Hide the seed from the beady eyes of hungry birds with a little more soil or compost and then water liberally with a fine rose attachment on your watering can.
Armed with this advice your lawn should stay looking lush and Instagram worthy all summer long. If you need help with creating a new landscaped lawn area in your garden please get in touch with us at Thames Valley Landscapes on 01628 629720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.