MAKING A GOOD LAWN
The first essential to remember in lawn treatment and lawn cultivation is that grass is a plant like a rose or a marigold ; it needs a constant supply of food and a reasonable depth of soil. The first step, therefore, in making a lawn is thoroughly to prepare the soil. It pays to give as much time as possible to this part of the work because in later years the appearance of the turf will be considerably improved. If the site is covered with builder’s clay and brickbats it should be trenched so that the rubbish is buried and the good fertile soil brought to the top. Take care to dig out perennial weeds such as clover, daisies and dandelions, otherwise these will give untold trouble after the lawn is made.
There is no need to remove bricks or stones unless these are very numerous; in fact, rough material of this kind buried underneath assists in draining the lawn and provides a drier surface in wet weather. Unless water is held up and makes the grass “ soggy,” it is not necessary to lay a drain ; grass, especially during the growing season, takes up a remarkable amount of water and most lawns suffer from lack of moisture in drought rather than the reverse.
The first stage of lawn treatment depends on the origins of the lawn and how it was raised. There are two ways of raising a lawn : from turf, or seed. The latter method is the more economical, and if a little care is given to the cultivation of the grass and the preparation of the seed bed, the best possible lawn will result. Turf is more suitable for town gardens where it is difficult to obtain good soil, as in this case there is already a 2 in. layer of soil.
SOW YOUR LAWN SYSTEMATICALLY
In sowing a lawn the seed must be evenly distributed. With half the seed, sow up and down the lawn over even marked spaces. Then repeat with the rest of the seed, sowing from side to side. If the lawn is required for immediate use apply seed at the rate of 2 oz. Per square yard. Where larger areas are sown I oz. To If oz. Per square yard may be sufficient, but the lawn could not be used for six months after sowing. Deal ruthlessly with the weeds that are certain to appear.with the turf which is a valuable asset. The advantage of this method is that the lawn can be used a few weeks after laying. Always inspect the turf before purchasing and see that it is reasonably free from weeds ; no field turf is entirely free. As far as possible, pull out what weeds are there as the lawn is being laid. I have found it a good practice to dress the surface of the prepared soil with bone-flour before the turves are laid. This causes the roots to run freely and the grass to catch hold of the new soil more quickly.
MAINTAINING THE LAWN
A good lawn can soon go wrong ; chemical changes in the soil create conditions under which weeds develop and the grass suffers. To keep turf in perfect condition needs just as much care and attention as do flowers in the borders. A lawn that is cut once a week, for example, over a period of thirty weeks would give an output of 30 in. of grass.
This means the removal of considerable nourishment from the soil, and it is obvious that it must be replaced at least once a year.
TOP-DRESSING WITH COMPOST
The time-honoured method of keeping a lawn up to concert pitch is to dress the surface with compost. This is a mixture of various materials such as old potting soil or soil from hotbeds, rotted leaves passed through a in. sieve and mixed with well decayed manine, sharp sand or bonfire ash, or even fine coal ash can be used. The whole should be thoroughly well mixed together and sifted before using. The best time to use such a compost is autumn or winter, applied at the rate of 5 lb. Per square yard. It should be applied evenly and well brushed in.
The leaves which fall on the lawn in autumn should be at once swept up ; left there, they rot the grass. Lop branches of overhanging trees and shrubs.
LEVELLING THE GROUND FOR A LAWN
To make a successful lawn the ground must be even, whether sloping or level. For games, it must be levelled; for this use pegs, straightedge and spirit level. For sowing, the soil should be flush with the top of the pegs. Consolidate newly dug soil by rolling several times. Repeated raking is necessary to obtain the fine crumbly surface essential for sowing.
IMPROVING DAMP LAWNS
First, see that the drainage is right. If surface water accumulates and remains or several hours after heavy rain, it is an indication that drainage is required. In a mall lawn this can quite often be carried m it by means of clinker drains. There is usually a fall from one end to the other And the easiest method is to open a I rench across the lawM a ft. wide and 2 ft. leep, fill in the bottom of the trench with ough clinker, broken bricks or stones to Ile depth of 12 in. and over this replace Me soil. Several such drains may be necessary; place them at intervals of 15 ft. to 20 ft.
FOR CLAY SOILS
An alternative method where the water does not remain too long is to brush into the grass sharp sand, fine gritty ashes, m- fine coke breeze. On clay soils, through constant rolling and mowing, the op layer of the soil tends to cake hard and if this can be penetrated with gritty material, after piercing with a fork, any surface dampness will be removed. Clay soils are particularly liable to pools of water, which often stand for long periods.
USE OF FERTILIZERS
Recent research has shown that the effect of lime is to encourage worm casts and also the growth of certain weeds. Its application should only take place in exceptional circumstances. Fertilizers are applied to lawns during the growing season, April to September. Their use is two-fold : they discourage weeds and encourage grass. At first this might seem bewildering until the two sorts of crops are compared ; grass has fine, thin leaves on which the fertilizer does not settle but goes straight to the roots to feed them, whereas most weeds have broader leaves which are burnt by the fertilizer. The same fertilizer, therefore, has a different effect on the two types of plants. Mowing, too, encourages thicker and more luscious turf, but discourages the growth •of weeds.
USEFUL LAWN FERTILIZERS
For autumn application.
(a) Fine ground bonemeal-3 oz. Per square yard for general use.
(b) Kainit-3 oz. Per square yard, for use on patches of coarse grass to encourage growth of the finer leaved varieties.
For spring application.
Sulphate of potash—one part.
Sulphate of ammonia—one part.
The mixture applied at the rate of I oz. Per square yard.
For spring and summer application.
Frequent light dressings of a nitrogenous manure are beneficial during spring and summer, especially on light, impoverished soils. For this purpose either of the following can be used :—
Sulphate of ammonia.
Even distribution of small quantities is easier if the fertilizer is mixed with equal quantities of finely sieved soil or sand.
A variety of ready-made lawn sand can be purchased for controlling weeds in lawns. It is also possible to make up a good lawn sand at home :–
56 lb. Fine silver sand.
4 lb. Nitrate of soda.
4 lb. Sulphate of ammo, nia.
3 lb. Fine ground sulphate of iron.
A cheaper mixture can also be made from :—
1 lb. Sulphate of iron.
3 lb. Sulphate of ammonia.
30 lb. Fine sand.
When applying lawn sand it must be remembered that dry conditions are essential. The longer the chemical lies on the broad leaves of the weeds and . burns them the more rapid will be the result, rain will soon wash the leaves clean. The action of lawn sand is twofold, destroying weeds and feeding the fine grasses : the inclusion of sulphate of iron gives the lawn a good rich colour.
LAWN SEED MIXTURES
Seedsmen generally supply a variety of lawn seed mixtures for various purposes. The following lists give suitable grasses for difficult situations :—
For dry, sandy soils, a mixture includes :—
Festuca elatior. .
For shady sites.
For acid soils and by the sea. Festuca rubra.
For city ‘gardens. Poa annua.
ROLL WITH CARE
1. Rolling the lawn should be done with care. A light soil requires more attention in this way; a heavy soil should never be rolled in wet weather. Use a 14- to 2 cwt. Hand roller.
TO CLEAR MOSS
1. Scarifying the lawn is important where moss
prevalent. Sometimes this raking is uilflcient, but In more severe cases the moss %lulu id be treated first with a special preparation.
ROOTS NEED AIR
2. Pricking over the surface in the autumn with a sharp-tined fork is an important operation as it helps to aerate the turf. This should be done before applying compost.
Deep-rooted weeds such as daisies and dandelions can be most easily grubbed out with this special daisy grubber, which can be purchased for a few pence at any ironmonger’s. Use lawn sand for removing weeds from the lawn.
REMOVING HOLLOWS AND PATCHES
TO REMOVE HOLLOWS
Hollows in the lawn can be removed in the following way. Tools needed are straight-edge, spirit level, half moon, spade, rake, turf lifter.
CUT OUT TURF
Cut out a square of turf with a half moon. Make the square larger than the area of the hollow and cut the turf from 2 in. to 2 in. thick.
BEAT DOWN TURF
Beat the turf with the back of spade to make it firm, so that no holes or spaces are left.
TEST WITH SPIRIT LEVEL
Test the patch with the spirit level, to make sure that the hollow has been completely removed. Work finely sifted soil into any crevices or slight hollows.
ROLL IT BACK
Lift the turf and roll it back beyond the sunken part. Look for any cause of subsidence. If the lawn is dry, it should be soaked with water a few hours earlier.
ADD FINE SOIL
Stamp the subsoil firm and fill the hollo with some fine soil from the wheelbarrow. These soils should be moist, but not so wet as to become sticky when sodden.
RAKE AND TREAD
Rake the soil down to. Make a perfectly even surface. Tread it to make sure there is enough soil to raise the turf sufficiently.
PUT BACK TURF
Replace the turf and press it down firmly. The finished patch should be slightly higher than the surrounding level to allow for settling.
RE-SOW BARE PATCHES
Bare patches should be scarified with a sharp•tined rake and sown with grass seed mixed with fine soil.
PROTECT FROM BIRDS
After sowing, it is wise to protect the seed from birds by placing some branches over it. This work is best dove In the lawn sowing seasons.