2013-02-22 xml
How To Manage A Lawn This Year - Whether Through Floods Or Drought!

John Negus, writer and broadcaster, and lawnmower manufacturers Hayter and Toro offer some helpful advice.

Flexibility and a well-managed lawn are the key to surviving the deluge-or-drought British weather, advise writer and broadcaster John Negus and lawnmower manufacturers Hayter and Toro.

Hayter Scarifier

Hayter Scarifier

This time last year, gardeners were warned of impending drought conditions and hosepipe bans - and these did in fact materialise in many areas of the country. Since then it doesn't seem to have stopped raining and all the well-laid plans for drought management were wasted! The long term forecast for Europe is a colder than average February and March ... but they're keeping quiet about the likely rainfall! So gardeners need to be flexible. Fortunately a well-fed and properly managed lawn is well able to resist the stresses of extreme weather conditions.

Remove Moss and Aerate the Lawn
The months of heavy rain have resulted in an invasion of moss in most lawns meaning essential repair work is needed - the moss clogs the grass and must be eradicated to restore the lawn to its former glory. Starting in March or April the lawn should be treated with a ferrous sulphate based moss control medium. Once the moss is black and dead it can be raked out together with all the dead grass stems etc which will have formed a dense 'thatch' on the lawn surface. Ideally a powered raker such as the Hayter Scarifier can be used - it takes the hard work out of this job.

Air is essential for good growth so the turf should then be spiked at 15cm intervals to a 15cm depth with a garden fork or a proprietary aerator that removes plugs of soil (these can often be hired). If the soil is heavy and air is forced out when the water table rises, a large bucketful of sharp sand per square metre should be spread over the surface and worked into the holes with the back of a steel rake. If the sward is poor, it can be treated with a lawn dressing comprising a mix of sterilised loam, sand, peat and Perlite which stimulates strong growth and improves drainage.

Feed and Weed
As the temperature rises, a granular total lawn fertiliser will help to invigorate the lawn. These effectively boost growth and tackle suppressing 'interlopers'. Feeding should continue monthly through the summer, and in the autumn a high-potash fertiliser should be applied to keep grass luxuriant over the winter.

Mowing
Weekly mowing is preferable in late spring - keeping grass about 2.5cm high - cutting lower than 13mm should be avoided as this weakens growth. If the weather does get very dry, cut should be heightened to around 5cm and mowing frequency reduced. In dry weather, clippings should be left to shower and cool the surface, or a mulching mower such as one of the Toro® Recycler® mowers can be used. These chop the cuttings up very finely and force them back into the lawn where they provide valuable nutrients and help to prevent the turf drying out. The "Recycle on Demand" feature on many Toro mowers means the user can switch between collecting cuttings and recycling/mulching at the push of a button, making it easy to react to whatever conditions the weather brings.

For a traditional British "striped" lawn, a rear roller mower such as the Hayter Harrier is required, mowing up and down in straight lines to gain the desired effect.

If it becomes necessary to water the lawn, wasteful evaporation can be avoided by watering in the early morning, late evening or, using a timer, at night. And even if watering does have to stop completely for a while and the lawn goes very brown, it will recover once the rain comes - road verges and parks which become completely brown in a hot summer can green up immediately as soon as there’s some rain.

Hayter


   
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