A beautiful, lush lawn is one of the most outstanding and attractive features of any home or complex, adding a carpet of natural growth which lends a sense of luxury and relaxation to any outdoor space. The nicest aspect of having a well-groomed lawn is that it can be dressed up with a border of formal flower beds or left more ‘au natural’ – or dressed down – with shrubs and loose planting dotted here and there. To my mind, that swathe of rich green, if well maintained, is a focal point all on its own, but I stress that it MUST be well maintained, with no bare patches, not over-run by weeds, kept to a neat height and with all edges neatly trimmed.
Need a pet? Try looking after your lawn …
Keeping a lawn in top shape is not an exercise for the weak-willed. It takes dedication on an on-going basis, much like looking after an active pet. Many people seem to think that grass simply grows and then needs to be cut every once in a while when walking through it becomes more of a trip hazard than a simple matter of getting from one place in the garden to another. Yes, grass definitely DOES grow – and often in places where you certainly don’t want it to appear, such as in your flower beds, in cracks in the paving or walls or pushing its way up through your carefully laid layer of chipped stones or bark along your pathways.
The lawn – a double-edged tale of woe and joy
Whilst having a green, lush carpet of grass as part of your garden sounds wonderful, it is hard work keeping it that way. I often find my elderly neighbour on his hands and knees in his small patch of grass, seeking out and gleefully destroying any stray weed which has the temerity to think it will be allowed to make its home in his patch of perfection. I remember once having a neighbour who actually ran a vacuum hose over his grass on a regular basis to pick up stray leaves and sticks which had blown onto it. And yes, he probably was more than a little over-the-top in his efforts, but he DID have a beautiful lawn! Mind you, no-one was allowed to actually walk on it, let alone sit down on it and simply enjoy its comfort, which rather defeats the object of having a lawn in the first place. And, oh, the joy we had as children in sneakily tossing a few bits of debris over his wall simply to annoy him and have him bring out his vacuum hose! Some of my nicest memories involve lying on my back on the lush grass in our garden with my friends, watching the cloud formations and holding fast onto anything solid to stop us from falling up into the sky …
Good-looking lawns don’t come easy!
It makes sense, if possible, to hand over the creation and care of your lawn to specialists who know their trade and keep your grass looking good throughout the year. These are the people who do the really hard work of scarifying and top dressing the lawn bi-annually, usually during late spring and early autumn, when the grass is moving into either its growth or semi-hibernation periods. It is important to scarify a lawn prior to top dressing it, as it enables the removal of dead grass (thatch) or moss prior to the application of the dressing, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the fertilizer-enriched top dressing as well as allowing nutrients to reach the roots more easily. It also stimulates growth and improves water drainage and prevents water-logging, which damages the grass. Scarifying involves creating small channels in the grass which enable light, air and nutrients to reach the deep root system, strengthening them and thickening subsequent growth. When a lawn has a thick layer of thatching, water will run off the grass rather than being absorbed into it, resulting in a shallow root system which is searching for water near the surface rather than forming deep roots which are hardier and healthier. Grass with a shallow root system will likely die during freezing cold weather or extremely dry conditions when the roots dry out quickly. Grass which has been water-logged for a long period will create stagnant pools which, at the very least, track mud into your home, but also become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other undesirable insects. If your grass extends up to the walls of your house, you need to be aware that water-logging can eventually affect the foundations and walls of your home, leading to problems further down the line with structural integrity, mould or rising damp. And we all know what damp walls smell like!
Why is my lawn water-logged?
Water-logging problems can be caused by :
- heavy and sustained rainfall;
- compacted soil in areas where there is continual foot traffic, machinery and heavy furniture which has compacted the tiny holes and channels which usually carry nutrients, air and water deep into the soil. With nowhere to go, the water will remain on the surface;
- clay-rich soil which sticks together and forms a mass which water cannot easily penetrate;
- impervious subsoil where a hard crust has formed, making water run off rather than being absorbed;
- improper grading and an uneven surface;
- the natural flow of water from higher to lower areas;
- shaded areas where the normal evaporation rate is decreased;
- gutter pipes which expel directly onto the lawn or French drains which are clogged;
- a high water table where natural groundwater levels are already high, leaving excess water on the soil surface;
- new structural changes with a deep footing such as a swimming pool or an extension which can interfere with the existing natural flow of underground water;
- impermeable landscaping features such as paving or those which change the elevation of the garden, leading to low spots in the lawn where water can accumulate.
As always – call in the specialists!
Lawn specialists are experts in the preparation of new ground and laying of new lawns. They will level the ground, prepare and rake the soil, fertilize the area to be grassed, seed the area or lay pre-cut grass sods. Laying grass sods is quicker and creates instant impact, as well as being usable almost immediately. The difference, of course, lies in the price – instant results equals higher cost and more convenience. This is a decision only you can make, of course, but your lawn supply and maintenance specialist will discuss the pros and cons with you before you start. Remember, though, that once you have an established lawn, you will need to work at it to keep it looking its best. If you can’t be bothered or are too busy to do this yourself, call in the lawn supply and maintenance specialists to take over the load and worry. Uptasker is a great resource when looking for such suppliers, as the site provides online ratings and customer reviews which will help you in choosing the right supplier for your needs.