Will all this Talk about Lawns…. being stressed by The Lack Of Rain…
I Thought I would reflect on How Great a Grass Lawn actually is….and how it contributes to the garden….but first it’s worth pointing out that Grass Lawns have a great ability to survive drought and will survive the Summer of 2018 in tacked when the Rain Returns…
So in the Meantime here is my Tribute to….
The Grass lawn
It’s the part of the garden we tend to take for granted its evergreen tough very eye catching an integral part of the garden incredibly versatile and no matter what the demands placed on it, it will always spring back, as good as ever. Even when biblical rains are threatened, these versatile plants can deal with it by draining away the excess water. People who have got rid of it to safe themselves a few extra minutes a week, can very quickly live to regret its absence, and can suddenly cast an envious eye when there new patio is sitting in a half metre of water after a severe rain fall.
So what wonderful plant am I talking about?? Grass of course, boring old very predictable but highly dependable Grass, which when planted on mass becomes the ubiquitous Lawn
. They have been for a long time, a feature of most gardens , that we take for granted and should never be discarded in my opinion. Grass lawns can facilitate all sorts of recreations in a very comfortable way ,it is like natures couch, a comfortable seat to admire the world from.
When I hear people wondering why water won’t drain during a heavy rain shower from there garden or drive, I usually point to the lack of drainage, created by the removal of there lawn to be replaced by a hard surface area and as and as result of this drastic action it mean there is no drainage and of course no where for the water to go. A lawn of 200 metres can absorb 4500 litres of rainwater without a noticeable run off. Recently a friend of mine during a really heavy downpour of rain heard a loud knock on his door. On opening the door he was greeted by a neighbour who informed him that the rain was building up fast on his concrete drive and that the house was about to be flooded. The reason it was all in his front garden was that, all his neighbours had also either concreted, laid tarmac or cobble lock where there lawns were, and as he was at the low end of the avenue it was all gathering in his front driveway. Fortunately he had kept a grass area where guess what?? He poured the excess rain with buckets into the grass which drained it away. So you can see why I love Lawns. Let me share a few thoughts with you on what makes a good lawn and how you don’t have to resort to chemical use to maintain it either.
Chemical company’s have us convinced that lawns will not thrive without pouring in endless chemicals which are also entering into the water table and as result damaging the eco system that exists in our soil. Centuries ago people would salt the land so nothing would grow and nearly all chemical fertilizers are a salt. As they are used year after year, your soil becomes poorer and poorer. Healthy soil i.e. salt free is loaded with heaps of microbial and microbial life. Most of these worms etc are working hard for your grass and worms don’t like salt. It is reckoned that almost three quarters of all garden chemicals sold, are used in the lawn ,while this may lead to a pristine lawn the overall damage is severe to the soil and to nature ,this I believe is what you call, having the “wool pulled over our eyes” ie that we have to have a pristine lawn.
A strong lawn is a good lawn less likely to be invaded by weeds so the right lawn feed applied will assist this .As I have said many times before the best lawn feed of all is seaweed one, totally natural, made by nature and highly effective Seamungus is an Irish made Seaweed feed. I have found this to be one of the best.
When it comes to weeds a home made version of the chemicals sold, can easily be made up, which admittedly has some salt in it. But not as much as the chemicals you buy .Try using 1 litre of white vinegar, 60 grams of table salt and 1 squirt of washing up liquid then mix it up all together making sure that all salt is completely dissolved put the solution into a sprayer making sure it is well washed out if you have used chemicals in it before. Spray the solution directly on to the weeds on a hot sunny day. For best results make sure to only apply to the weeds you want to kill and not the grass, the salt though will sterilize the area you apply this to and damages the eco system of the soil. If you choose this option make sure to mix everything together making sure the salt is completely dissolved.
One thing to remember with this solution is to not get it on anything you don’t want to kill. It is non-selective meaning it will kill any plant life it comes in contact with and it will sterilize the soil for up to two years depending on how much gets into the soil. If you want to stay as green as possible then get out a potato peeler which is ideal to dig out weeds and of course there roots if you don’t get the roots you don’t get the weed.
Personally I leave the weeds alone and let them do there own thing daisy’s, cowslips, cornflowers look great when in flower another option is to leave a centre area of the lawn un cut for the summer and you can enjoy the flowers as will all the local butterflies, moths and ladybirds ,wildflowers will actually do well, in poor soils. Another weed hunted down is clover but it actually clover adds fertility to the soil so once again I would say ignore all the bad press clover gets. Don’t think of clover as a weed – consider it the perfect lawn addition. Green, drought-tolerant and pest-free, a clover filled lawn will require less cutting, little watering and no feeding, unlike traditional lawns. This means less work and fewer chemicals and bees love clover as well. In fact some gardeners have clover only lawns.
Another simple cost efficient rule that is easy to follow is, that when mowing, be sure to leave the clippings on the lawn it adds organic matter and nutrients back into the soil you will often see this being done on sport’s pitches and I insist that this is done on all lawns that I work on, except when the grass, to be cut is very long. Your lawns love Nitrogen and grass clippings they release important nutrients like nitrogen as well as phosphorous and potassium into the soil. But don’t over do it as grass clippings are detrimental when they have not been properly spread or allowed to build up into piles. Grass clippings contain 4 percent nitrogen, 5 percent phosphorous and 2 percent potassium. Gardeners who leave their grass clippings on the lawn contribute up to 25 percent of their lawn’s fertilizer needs, according to further research from Ohio State University. Grass uses nitrogen to produce healthy growth, phosphorous for root development and potassium to fend off diseases.
Mowing the lawn higher by cutting one third of the grass helps the lawn keep its nutrients gives more shade to the soil which leads to less watering, deeper roots which means thicker grass which in turn can lead to fewer weeds slower growth which can mean less mowing.
So with all that in mind I now hope you might see the lawn in a better light especially if you were thinking of getting rid of it for some sterile concrete or tarmac. Lawns deserve a lot more credit than they get and cost a lot less than you think and truly are natures couch.
Top Tips ..Manage Lawns without Chemicals.
….1…To Remove rosette-type weeds like dandelions, daisy and plantain, use a hand fork and make sure to get all the roots.
…2…Rake over and mow to discourage creeping weeds such as speedwell.
…3… Vinegar is a popular organic weed killer if applied directly to the leaves of weeds like Dandelions. Note that vinegar only kills the leaves and not the root. Root removal is necessary to prevent further growth.
…4…Avoid close mowing, particularly as this can weaken the grass and allow the weeds in.