Lawns can make or break a garden – and a gardener. For some reason, the British are nothing if not persistent about grass.
We spend time, effort and money trying to cultivate lawns where they clearly do not want to be cultivated, and then we spend even more time, effort and money trying to remove grass from places where it obviously wants to grow.
There must be a moral here – choose a site for your lawn with care. Forget about shady spots beneath trees; ignore dry, sandy banks where the rain simply runs away to lower levels, avoid boggy bits.
A healthy, happy lawn prefers sunshine, good drainage and plenty of care and attention.
A lawn can serve a multitude of purposes and the choice of seed (or quality of turf) governs the amount of wear and tear it will tolerate. Some people want to play football on their lawn; others prefer to keep contact to a minimum to produce a picture perfect area of green.
Whatever the choice, preparation is key to success, and with March approaching fast, it’s almost time to spring into action.
So, the first job is to create a flat, weed- and stone-free site which is never waterlogged but which is always moist enough to meet the demands of short-rooted grasses; the biggest enemy to a newly-laid lawn is lack of water.
Mowing is another important factor to consider; chooses the right one for the lawn and keep it in good condition. Clean it regularly, oil it when necessary and maintain the sharpest of blades.
And always keep the lawn edges trimmed, repair damaged sections and bald patches, feed regularly, weed religiously and ensure the lawn has everything it needs to look its best.
Alternatively, sow a wildflower meadow and turn a formal lawn area into an informal carpet of colour. There’s no need to feed (wild flowers tend to grow better on neglect; they will bloom and then set and scatter the seed for the following year’s show.
It’s not a lawn for everyone, but it is an option for anyone who hasn’t the time or inclination to maintain a formal lawn.
And if you want something which requires virtually no maintenance, look to the East – in Japan, they use sands and gravels instead of grass, simply raking it occasionally. Your local builders’ merchant should be able to help.