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Each year we have to approach how we care for our lawns in a way that suits how the weather is behaving, it is no good to have a wall chart with recommendations that we follow “whatever” the weather is doing. During March, we are likely to see more frosty mornings and we should remember that this means the leaves of the plants are frozen so we should not be walking all over it or cutting it. If the forecast is frosty, leaving the cutting for a few days.
Turf is a great way to create an “instant” lawn. However, like many jobs, it is the preparation that is key to making sure that your new lawn is sustainable. It is easy to forget that turf is simply a roll of very young, small and delicate grass plants that have had their roots cut off, been transported (often) a long way in a hot lorry and are about to be put on top of a soil that is probably very different to what it is used too!
There are two main species of Chafer Grub that cause problems in turf and sports surfaces: the Garden Chafer Grub (Phyllopertha horticola) and the Cock Chafer Grub (Melolontha melolontha) The ones shown to the right are the garden Chafer which is much smaller than the Cock Chafer with the larvae growing to 15mm in length. These will generally last for one season in the soil whereas the much larger Cock Chafer will last up to three years growing to quite a size (up to 30mm in length).
Many lawns suffered in the heatwave of 2018 which wasn’t helped by the late, cold and wet end to the winter which dragged on into spring. This results in lots of cases with lawns that have bare patches which have not recovered. The reasons for this are many and we do need to have a look to diagnose why and suggest remedial action. However, one to the more deep-rooted reasons is a phenomenon called (rather boringly named) “Dry Patch”.
Here we installed a “Jute” Membrane. This was made of a plant which is very tough and provides a natural method of stabilising the bank. We have seeded the bank with a range of naturally occurring indigenous grasses which will grow through the membrane and provide a low maintenance but pleasing cover which will need strimming off only once a year.
Whether it is a small ornamental lawn or a much larger project, the key is to have a look and evaluate the topsoil levels, type and condition. Often we are working with builders or landscapers and it is important to make sure that any indigenous topsoil that is on site is put to one side so that it is not lost by being mixed in and that it remains in good condition and not structurally damaged. Builders are often trained to “compact” materials which is good for building but not for lawns.