Cheating tips for your lawns

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The perfect  home has a perfect green lawn. This perfect green lawn is like a living carpet: it has a uniform texture of grass with no daisies, dandelions or worm casts, it is perfectly smooth and flat (perfect for croquet or lawn bowls), and it is a consistent shade of pure emerald green. It is always clipped to an exact height of about an inch or so long. And when it is mown, a subtle damask-like pattern of stripes running back and forth should appear.

Now it’s time to wake up. This sort of lawn was the ideal set down in the days when stately homes employed a small army of full-time domestic cleaners, including several gardeners. This idealized lawn is a full-time job, requiring weekly (or even twice-weekly) mowing, not to mention watering, rolling and careful weeding. Most of us – even if we hire a professional gardener to take care of our lawns – can’t afford the time to do this. These days, you should only put this sort of effort into a lawn if you are a full time gardener at a stately home, or if you are the groundsman/woman for your local country club – and even then, only the pitch needs quite such grooming.

The first thing most of us can do to make life a bit easier for ourselves when it comes to lawns is to stop worrying about having a perfect even texture. You will save yourself a world of bother – not to mention problems with chemicals – if you leave lawn “weeds” in their place. Daisies, for example should be left. As somebody once said, if daisies were sold in bunches, we’d appreciate them more and go to great lengths to have them on our lawns. The same goes for other things like dandelions and clover. Besides, a lawn with more than one species of plant growing in it is more resistant to diseases and is more natural.

However, if things get too weedy, it could be good to re-sow your lawn just to readdress the balance of things. Grasses are tough plants and will take over, given a bit of encouragement.

Dogs can burn patches in a lawn with their urine. To prevent this happening, dilute the urine after they have “been” to stop it burning the grass. Don’t worry about worm casts. Worms are vital for the health of the soil, so don’t try to kill them. Those worm casts are very rich in nutrients. If you absolutely can’t stand them, rake them off and put them into a flower patch or vegetable garden – the plants there will appreciate them.

A well aerated soil is a healthy one. An old trick for improving drainage and aerating the soil is a to drive long thin holes into it. In the past, gardeners used something like clogs with an inverted bed of nails on the bottom to drive in the holes. You could make your own out of pieces of wood and driving nails into them – tie these onto the bottoms of your shoes (point side downwards, of course!) and walk about the lawn in them – possibly while you’re mowing the lawn.

If you live in a drier area and hate mowing the lawns during summer, make life simpler for yourself and don’t water the lawn. In dry climates the lawn will not die off for lack of water. It won’t have the perfect emerald shade of a well-watered one and may look a more dusty khaki, but you won’t have to mow it in the heat.

The ultimate cheat for lawns is not to mow them at all. This is not recommended if you have children who like to play outside and will inevitably lose beloved toys in the result. It will also make outdoor games like croquet and petanque rather difficult, if not impossible (picnics, however, have a delightfully secluded nature in a long lawn). Long grass is quite beautiful, especially in the wind and/or with a mixture of wildflowers growing inside it. Cats and other small animals love lawns like this, as it gives them plenty of space to hide in.

To avoid people thinking that you’re slovenly and lazy and to show that you are leaving your lawn long by choice, mow a path or two through it and keep this neat and well maintained – it makes things easier for you to walk through, too.

by: Nick Vassilev

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