“A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken” – James Dent
Spending time relaxing in the garden is glorious, but somehow there never seems to be time to simply sit and enjoy the outside space you have made for yourself.
Theres always a long list of jobs to do, and caring for your lawn can be expensive and time consuming. While some prefer to dump nasty chemicals in their yard to keep it looking good, that’s hardly environmentally-friendly – not to mention, safe for pets and kids.
Here are a few suggestions for taking the strain out of mowing, and producing a lawn to be proud of, with time to enjoy it.
All lawns require regular upkeep to help them stay in tip-top condition; the main treatments you should be carrying out are easy to undertake but need to be applied during the proper seasons.
The equipment required for basic lawn care is not extensive and the basics can include only a lawn mower, rake, fork and shears. There are, however, a number of specialist tools out there to make lawn care less back-breaking, and some of these can simplify lawn care significantly, but they’re not mandatory.
The basics of lawn care should be easy for most people to carry out and they include the following:
Spiking is the process of aerating lawns in order to improve drainage and air circulation; this can be carried out by simply jabbing the lawn all over with a garden fork or by using a special tool such as a rolling spiker.
Some spikers include hollow tines which lift out plugs of earth to further aid drainage and aeration. This is especially important if your lawn is prone to flooding and it should ideally be carried out in the autumn before the heavy rains begin to take their toll.
This is the process of raking dead moss and grass from your lawn’s surface. Without scarifying, lawns can suffer from a lack of sunlight as the dead grass and moss prevents the light reaching all of the grass.
Around a week before scarifying, apply moss killer to your lawn to enable full cleansing of the surface.
In order to save water, it is advisable to install a water butt in your garden…especially if you plan to regularly water a lawn. New lawns in particular require regular water in their first season.
A sprinkler system is the best way of watering a lawn as it provides a light and even spray which will help to avoid boggy patches.
Trim the edges of your lawn regularly during growing seasons with the aid of shears or a power trimmer. A neatly edged lawn looks far better than a straggly, unkempt mess.
Mowing needs to take place regularly during spring and summer when the grass is growing. The Royal Horticultural Society recommends mowing your lawn twice weekly during summer, and once a week during spring and autumn. You could even find yourself mowing during winter if the weather is particularly mild.
If you discover that your lawn is not growing evenly then you can put down grass seed but this needs to take place in spring.
During the summer months you should avoid applying any weed or moss killer as dry weather means that the grass may sustain burns from strong chemicals.
Save money (and reduce your carbon emissions) by using a manual lawn mower. They’ve come a long way from than the back breakers our parents pushed around the garden – the new generation of manual lawn mowers are light, compact, and you can accurately control the cutting height; crucial for a healthy lawn.
Leave the clippings on the grass as you go, they smell wonderful and provide a great mulch.
Less Is More
Setting a higher cutting height means less watering and fertilizing, and less danger of bare patches as the grass is encouraged to grow deep roots.
Why not “go wild” with your lawn and allow a bit of colour and variety to pop up here and there? In areas where pesticide use for cosmetic use has been banned, the results can be pretty, and great for supporting local biodiversity too.
Make Your Lawn a Cup of Tea
Try making some organic compost tea to feed your lawn and reduce fertilizer, pesticide and fungicide use. It takes a few days to brew up a batch, but its a great way to nourish your whole garden, not just the lawn.
Making compost tea requires a bit of investment in equipment (an aquarium pump, tubing, bubblers and a bucket), but once you’ve started, you wont need to spend any more money on fertilizing your lawn, and as the use of compost tea make the soil more resistant to pests, you wont need to use pesticides and fungicides either.
Learn to Love Moss
Why do we hate moss so much? Every year we pour gallons of chemicals onto our lawns in an attempt to rid ourselves of these fascinating and pretty little plants that require zero maintenance and feel delightfully springy.
In the zen gardens of Japan, moss is an important element in creating a calm, meditative space. If your lawn is in a shady spot and is prone to mossy patches, you could just let the moss take over.
Encourage the spread of moss by uprooting a small amount, blending it with a little beer, and sprinkling the mixture in the area you want the moss to grow. Moss feels lovely underfoot, and your mowing days will be over.
By making some environmentally friendly choices in the way you care for your lawn, you will be helping to support the local environment, and also saving energy, time and money. And with more time on your hands, you might actually get to enjoy a relaxing afternoon, dozing in a deckchair, enjoying your beautiful, eco friendly lawn.
This article includes contributions from Ant Langston.