It's grassroots time! Make changes to your lawn and prepare for the spring rewards
- British gardening expert Nigel Colborn gave advice on making a new lawn
- He recommended using a grass seed including ryegrass for heavy duty family lawns
- Whether laying lawns or growing seeds, Nigel offers advice on preparing the soil
This is the time of year to make a new lawn. The soils are still warm and the fall weather is usually perfect for quick germination.
The seedlings have enough time to develop a green shell before winter. The lawn that has now been laid will also calm down quickly.
So if you fancy a new lawn or want to have more grass in your garden, this is the time. It's a simple process and the results are quick.
Before you begin, however, there are a few simple checks to be made. First, check the drainage. With the top centimeters of soil you can create the finest seedbed on earth.
However, if the water doesn't drain away easily, permanently damp areas can make your lawn look blotchy. Grass is not just grass.
Thrive: The boundary of a lawn with taller plants can create a delightful backdrop
With more than 12,000 different species, it's a huge family of plants. Lawn grass varieties are fewer, but it's still important to choose the seed mix or type of lawn that suits your needs. For a flawless outdoor rug, choose a fine seed mix or lay premium turf. For heavy duty play areas, sow a heavy seed mixture.
If you want to join the trend towards nature-friendly lawns, mixtures are also available for these.
Your first important decision is whether to sow seeds or plant lawns. Whatever you choose, the first task is to prepare the ground. The entire area must be dug or cultivated with a power tiller.
The dug soil must then be mined to a crumbly and raked level. Light floors can be rolled after processing or gently paved with your feet.
Heavy soils require similar treatment to break down clumps. But don't over-compact your soil. The sowing rates are indicated on the seed container. You can buy seed transmitters for under £ 40.
However, sowing by hand is easy and almost as accurate. Choose a quiet day and send your semen as evenly as possible. Carefully rake the area after sowing. If there is no rain for four or five days, water the area.
It may take a few weeks for the grass to appear. So be patient. Laying lawns is like laying carpet tiles, but far easier. If there are gaps, fill them with loose soil. You'll turn green in weeks.
HORSES FOR COURSES
For hard-wearing family lawns, choose a seed mix with ryegrass. This develops a permanent sward that can take a lot of punishment.
Recovery is quick after accidents or severe lawn damage. Keep some grass seeds in the shed to mend or heal badly worn areas.
There are more expensive seed mixtures for highly refined lawns. These exclude ryegrass but contain finer grasses for a nice silky lawn of uniform color. There are also seed mixes for shade.
For heavy duty family lawns, choose a hardy seed like ryegrass to make sure it survives
These work to some extent, but no lawn will thrive in dense shade. Future maintenance brings with it a dilemma. Until recently, it was common practice to apply nitrogen-rich fertilizers every spring. This was often mixed with selective herbicide, resulting in a weed-free, bright green carpet.
Fortunately, such anti-nature regimes are falling out of style. Lawns with daisies and other bee-friendly flowers in the grass are low maintenance and beautiful. You can buy wildflower seed mixes and even flowery meadow lawns, but be careful.
A lawn is not a meadow and flowering plants have to thrive in the densely mown grass. Lawn daisies are the best known, but speedwells, white clover and dwarf hawkweed also live happily with regularly mowed grass.
Better still, why not border your lawn with a strip of tall meadow plants? That could make an enchanting backdrop.