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IS THE GRASS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE?
Do you want a fantastic looking lawn without all the hard work, want it to develop quickly, and only cut it once a week or even a fortnight, and look forward to the end of the year when you can put your mower away until the next spring.
Dick The Armchair Gardeners useful tips: I would love to have a beautiful lawn, but unfortunately it is like a good relationship, the more you put in (the more aggro you get) sorry, I meant to say the more you get back.
Step 1 - What grass seed should I use?
Technically Grass seed mixtures are made up of different types of cultivars, each of which have a unique habit and performance capabilities necessary to create mixtures for specific purpose of use.
Dicks Tip: Personally I just use ryegrass mixes for back lawns and non-ryegrass mixes for front lawns.
Bowling greens and show lawns need high performance fine leaved non ryegrass varieties such as chewings fescue and bentgrass, but they also need an intense feeding programme and weed control to ensure that the quality sward is maintained.
Dicks Tip: Weeds are a natural part of any British lawn, leave it to the keen gardeners and professionals.
Shaded areas under trees need cultivars that are deep rooted to compete with the trees roots and form a rich lush sward - strong creeping red fescue, smooth stalked meadow grass and browntop bent are perfect for this situation. Watering in the early stages will encourage rapid development.
Dicks Tip: Add snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells saves cutting until late May.
Front lawns using a non-rye grass mixture comprising of chewings fescue and strong creeping red fescue will create a vivid green, fine looking lawn for everyday use.
Dicks Tip: Just the job, but still needs a weed and feed once established, use a combined one, it's easy.
Low maintenance for those who prefer to spend more time relaxing in the garden, then easy lawn (without ryegrass) or all purpose (with ryegrass) are both durable, have high wear tolerance, contain cultivars which form a dense sward of rich green, but has slower regrowth after cutting, leaving you more time with family and friends.
Dicks Tip: Now we are talking, good looking and low maintenance, what more could a gardener need.
Sports areas take a lot of wear and tear and need mixtures based on modern perennial ryegrass types to provide quick regrowth, strong resistance to wear and rapid recovery, then you need our pro sports mixtures or quickgrass.
Dicks Tip: The closest thing I have come to being sporty, was having athletes foot, needs regular mowing.
Family lawns when you have young children, pets or high volume of traffic, then you need a mixture that looks fine in appearance, but has all the attributes of a sports mixture and the rapid recovery rate needed to retain a lush lawn back lawn mixture is the answer.
Dicks Tip: Its good stuff, needs little maintenance and only need to cut it once every week to ten days.
Patching any mixture can be used for bald areas of the lawn or for over seeding tired looking areas, just remember to select non ryegrass for fine lawns and with ryegrass for hardwearing areas.
Dicks Tip: I wonder if it will work on my bald patch, remember to rake vigorously before seeding, not your bald patch.
Partial shade in areas that are shaded but then have exposed areas to full sunlight - look to use a shaded lawn mixture, add either ryegrass or non-ryegrass mixtures to blend in the shaded zone to the start of the exposed lawn areas.
Dicks Tip: I put shaded lawn under the trees and mixed ryegrass with shady lawn and blended the mixture into the existing ryegrass lawn so it didn't look two different shades of green.
Step 2 - Preparation
It is essential for the best results that the area is dug with a fork, spade or a rotavator at least two weeks before you intend to seed the area , dig up to 30cm(12inches) deep, remove weeds, stones and all debris, then allow to settle for about a week.
Rake the area to be seeded removing any weeds that appear and form a fine seed bed.
Walk over the area to be seeded and press the soil firmly with the heel of your shoe, once completed, rake the area again to leave a fine surface area and leave for a few days, remove any weeds that appear and three days before sowing a granular fertiliser can be applied.
Dicks Tip: Make sure its flat, use a roller if necessary, you can get seasick looking at mine, there's that many ripples.
Step 3 - Sowing the seed
Choose a calm, dry day for sowing between mid-March and mid-October, later planting can be undertaken depending on weather conditions and the danger of frost ( protect with fleece if unsure).
It would be best to mark out the area into square metres using canes and string, and then apply seed between 35g to 50g per square metre. Lower sowing rates can result in weed invasion and will take long to establish the lawn. Higher sowing rates can result in new shoots getting diseased.
Scatter the seed evenly from left to right, top to bottom, then lightly rake the area to 0.5cm, most seed left on the surface will still germinate, remember to protect against birds.
Dicks Tip: Do it in autumn, there are less weeds, the soil is warmer, and the grass gets established quicker.
Step 4 - Aftercare
Birds will often dust bathe in new seed beds and even be tempted to take seed, so it is best to deter them as much as possible. You can stretch string tightly across the bed and attach strips of foil, or use fruit netting over the top.
New seedlings will appear in 14 to 28 days depending on the weather, remember to water with a fine rose watering can or sprinkler in dry conditions, firm the soil once the grass has grown to about 2.5cm using the roller on your mower raising the cutting head above the grass, or with the heel of your foot, this encourages further shooting.
Cutting the lawn wait until growth has reached 8 cm then take off the top 1.5cm only. Make sure the grass is dry, the mower blades sharp and take your time, do not lower the blades until after four cuts have taken place.
Dicks Tip: Don't cut it when it is too wet, it rips half the stuff out, I used fleece against birds.
Step 5 - Lawn care
We suggest you cut new grass twice a week on the high setting, once the lawn is established, reduce the cutting height to your desired setting, cut regularly but always remember to remove the cuttings.
Fertiliser and weed control allow your lawn to establish before using any granular or liquid treatment as you could burn the grass, we do suggest spring and autumn weed and feed but you must always follow the manufacturers guide.
In the early stages water in dry periods, watering on a daily basis, you can use a spring rake to stop the lawn becoming matted or for moss invasion, but be careful, also try to avoid extremely heavy use in the first year.
Dicks Tip: I used lawn sand because my soil is heavy and gets a lot of moss in it.
Step 6 - Things to look out for!
Compaction - this is as a result of extreme periods of dry weather, the surface area becomes hard and solid and the seedlings will have no chance of penetrating the soil surface
Tip- prepare the area well and avoid the seed bed from becoming to dry.
Moisture - try to avoid frost conditions as the young shoots will be badly damaged, avoid planting in cold periods after excessive rainfall as the soil temperature will be insufficient to encourage germination.
Never cut your grass to low in really dry, hot conditions as this will result in the grass turning a bright yellow almost like straw, cutting to low in early spring can also encourage weed invasion.
Dicks Tip: Make the lawn work for you and not the other way round, and try my quiz for a bit of fun.
Test your knowledge and see if you are a gardening guru or a little on the green side.
Question 1 - When is the best time to sow grass seed?
A. Spring B. Summer C. Autumn D. Winter
Question 2 - Which is the best performing mixture for around trees?
A. Hardwearing B. Fine lawn C. Shaded lawn D. Paddock mixture
Question 3 - How do I create the stripes in my lawn?
A. Use two mixes B. Run the mower different ways C. Rake it D. Feed the lawn
Question 4 - How long should I prepare my seed bed in advance?
A. Couple of weeks B. One Week C. One Day D. One month
Question 5 - Which pest should I protect against?
A. Slugs B. Ants C. Birds D. Squirrels
Question 6 - What causes the grass to go yellow like straw in summer?
A. Cutting to low B. Late feeding C. Poor Soil D. Compaction
Question 7 - What cultivar performs best for wear and tear?
A.Bentgrass B. Chewing fescue C. Ryegrass D. Poa Pratensis
Question 8 - When are the best conditions to sow grass seed?
A. Moist & Warm B. Dry & Hot C. Dry & Calm D. Wet & Windy
Question 9 - What height should you cut your grass for its first cut?
A. 6.5cm B. 10cm C. 9cm D. 4cm
Question 10 - What sowing rate should you apply grass seed for the best results per SQ metre?
A.25gms B.60gms C.15gms D. 35gms