Lawn Renovation - Activfirst
A few years ago, I was given a lawn scarifier, I knew it was something to do with grass but had no idea what it was for. I decided to resort to Google to find out more information and how to use it. I was inspired at seeing all the perfect bowling green lawns, this led me on a journey to try and achieve a great lawn. Firstly, this is how the garden looked, I wasn’t really interested in lawn care but would happily give it a cut every now and then.
Making a start
The scarifier has metal tines that rotate and can be set to high where it will act as a rake or can be lowered which will rip out all the dead and dying grass, this is called thatch. It will also remove moss. A rake can also be used for this purpose. The time to do this is when the grass is actively growing so Spring to Autumn.
Depending on the state of the grass beforehand, scarifying can have a dramatic effect on the lawn, this can make it look in a poor shape afterwards. The correct time to do this is when the grass is vigorously g so Spring to Autumn, this is to ensure speedy recovery from the damage. To assist a light application of fertilizer two weeks prior to scarifying can help the grass recover quicker.
After I had performed this task, I had several bin bags full of moss and grass and the lawn looked a sorry muddy mess. Quick to the internet! I thought I’ve killed my lawn but after reading up realised that this is what does happen and now the grass can grow back resulting in a healthier lawn. Ideally this should be performed twice a year, once in Spring and again in Autumn.
Next the aerator, this is a cylinder with solid spikes attached to it which put thousands of holes into the ground. This improves the air circulation amongst the roots, it also breaks
up the soil easing compaction so the roots can grow easier. This is beneficial for growth and general plant development. It’s a bit of a back breaking, laborious task and ideally it should be done once a month during the growing season.
Those pesky weeds
Time to kill those weeds, again the best time is Spring and Autumn these are the main times for lawn care. To do this I apply a selective weed killer, this is different to your round-up type killers which kill everything. I apply this over the entire lawn at the start of the growing season and again if needed perhaps in July if there are any weeds still showing.
For a truly ornamental lawn, top-dressing should be carried out. In the Autumn I applied 1 Ton of top-dressing to the grass, this was a mix of 80% sand and 20% soil, this is done to improve the properties of the root zone (were the grass roots are) and to level the lawn by filling in small dips. I firstly roughly worked out where each bag was going to go by placing them all over the lawn. Next I used a wide stiff sweeping brush, I worked the top dressing into the grass, making sure I didn’t cover the blades of the grass as this would kill it.
After doing a bit more research I decided my soil was fairly compacted and clayey too, so a spot of hollow tine aeration wouldn’t go amiss, I sourced a cheap one from eBay. This is another form of aeration like above but removes cores of soil from the ground. This is a better form of aeration but with only 3 tines takes ages to do the entire lawn. After this is done you can sweep sharp sand onto your lawn, some of which will end up in the holes and will improve drainage, I just left the holes open though to improve compaction and get some air into the roots.
A spot of fertilizer never goes amiss so I purchased two types, one for Autumn and Winter and another type for Spring and Summer. You need two different types of fertilizer, when the weather is cold you are looking at making the grass hardier and the roots stronger, in the warmer months you want lush green grass. Apply the summer one in winter and you’d have to keep cutting it right through winter. Applying fertilizer will improve the colour, quality and density of the lawn, whilst also ensuring fast recovery of any wear and tear that might occur. To apply the fertilizer I purchased a drop spreader, this is a great way to distribute it evenly over the entire lawn, if you were to put too much in one area it will kill the grass.
Another use for the drop spreader is for applying seed, after I had performed my Spring lawn maintenance, I over seeded the entire lawn. There are many different types of grass seed which come in blends of various types. I decided to get a blend for bowling greens, normally these aren’t very hard wearing but seeing as it would be incorporated into the existing hard-wearing grass, I thought this would be fine. The blend I chose contained Fescues and Bent grasses, if you want to cut your grass short like a bowling or putting green, these are what’s needed.
We were getting there now, and the lawn was starting to look really good but still had a bit of moss, so I purchased some Soluble Iron, this kills any moss, hardens the turf and also makes the grass a lovely shade of deep green. I bought 20kg’s which will be enough to last me about 25 years but when you buy it like this it’s fairly cheap. In fact, buying this the seed and fertilizer direct from turfcare sites online for commercial use works out much cheaper than buying from your DIY stores. You have to be really careful when preparing and spraying Soluble Iron as it stains everything it touches. To spray the iron onto the grass and to also spray the weed killer I bought a Knapsack sprayer. The grass greens up within a few hours after applying, if you apply to much it can turn the grass very dark.
After all the hard work I thought I’d treat myself to a quality cylinder mower, these are the best type of mower to get a really fine finish to your lawn, I bought a second hand one from eBay, it weighs an absolute tonne but leaves a lovely finish. The purpose of mowing is not just to keep the grass at the correct length, when carried out correctly it builds up a vigorous fine quality grass. The rule is to mow often, not too closely and never remove more than a third of the height in one cut.
How it’s looking
I’m extremely pleased with the results; it’s been a lot of hard work but very rewarding. I’ve since installed lawn edging and landscaped the garden, but I’ll leave that blog for another day.