Thanks for all your letters. I am amazed how many of you want to improve your lawn.
Nigel, from Chichester, asks how to treat bare patches and Chris, at Waterlooville, wants to know when is the best time to sow grass seed or is it better to buy turf?
Let’s start with improving bare patches.
Measure the area of the lawn. For every square yard you need to improve you’ll need 2oz of best grass seed and 1lb of seed compost.
Once the area is calculated, mix the grass seed and moist compost together and leave it in a black polythene sack for seven days when the seeds will chit (start to shoot). Interestingly, once the seeds chit birds will leave them alone.
Water the lawn to be improved and then, using a digging fork, make holes about an inch deep by pushing the prongs into the lawn. It’s hard work so do a little at a time or you will have pains in places you never thought you had. You will need to make about 12 holes to each square foot of lawn to be treated.
Scatter the compost and seed mix over the lawn and water afterwards. The grass seed will fall into the holes made by your fork. Keep the surface moist and your lawn will be transformed in four weeks.
Now, to help Chris. The best time to sow a lawn from seed is in early September. Keep raking the soil’s surface so weed seedlings are destroyed. Rake the surface every week to create a good tilth on to which the grass seed is scattered. Two ounces of grass seed is needed for each square yard. Choose a grass mixture which has the new perennial grass varieties. Suttons Seeds has a good selection.
The alternative is to lay turf. A few days before laying it apply a dressing of fish, blood and bone fertiliser at 2oz per square yard and rake this into the soil.
For an instant lawn it is a good idea to use turf, but instead of asking the supplier to deliver instantly, give them a chance because the weather has been dry. Please give the turf grower about three weeks’ notice before you want the turf. If you do want some straight away, try B&Q. It has excellent turf grown on rolls which is very easy to lay.
Best advice? Get some wide planks. Scaffolding planks are ideal and are what bowling green keepers use. Lay a strip of turf, put a plank on top of the first strip. Walk on the plank at all times.
Cut a turf in half and lay the next strip of turf. This ensures you have the best possible surface because the turfs knit together much better. Keep the grass watered to stop shrinkage in warm weather. If you go away and the turfs shrink, fill the edges with John Innes seed compost when you get home. Don’t use ordinary garden soil because weeds will be introduced.
Is there a secret for a perfect lawn? Yes, don’t walk on freshly laid turf; always walk on the plank. Always mow the grass before it needs cutting and mow in a different direction every time.
I recently judged The News Bloomin’ Marvellous competition and saw some amazing lawns. Three gardens had artificial grass which looked wonderful – a marvellous idea where the lawn is constantly attacked by feet.
TIP OF THE WEEK
The next two weeks provide the best opportunity for sowing a lawn from seed. Keep an eye out for the weather because it will be good if it rains as soon as the seed is sown. Look at the various mixes available and don’t buy the cheapest.
Modern rye grasses in good quality seed grows well, keeps green and doesn’t need so much cutting.