Lawns are still very much part of the English garden. Whether they are as pristine as a bowling green or merely a space for children to play, the lawn has an important role to play in the design of a garden. Most of us with lawns are content for them to look green and lush and neatly mowed. Keeping the perfect lawn is not always at the top of our garden priority list. And it's OK not to mind if our lawns have the odd patch of moss or a weed or two. Whether you are after perfection or just a healthy looking patch of grass, there are some basic tasks to consider when keeping a lawn. You can rigorously adhere to all of them, or just pick the ones that keep your lawn looking just how you want it.
Laying a lawn
There are two ways to lay a new lawn or patch up a section of lawn - seed or turf. There are pros and cons to both. Grass seed is slower growing, prone to being eaten by birds and you have to keep off of it for longer. However, it is quicker and easier to sow and definitely the better option for filling in patches. With turf you have instant grass, although you need to keep off it for a while until it is established. But turf is also slower and more difficult to lay and is on the whole, more expensive.
If you are sowing a lawn from seed, choose a seed that is right for the purpose. For instance, if your lawn is primarily for children to play on, then choose a rye mix that is hardier and will withstand a lot of wear and tear. The best times to sow grass seed are in September when the ground is still warm but not too wet, or March when the ground is beginning to warm up again.
You can lay turf at any time of the year except when the weather is frosty. Make sure you buy good quality turf that is at least two inches thick. Turf should be laid as soon as it is delivered, otherwise it can turn yellow. With both methods, the area laid to lawn should be kept moist at all times and you should avoid walking on it until it is well established.
If a perfect lawn is your aim, you will have to work at it. If not, you can probably get away with fairly regular mowing and a feed once or twice a year. When mowing, avoid cutting the grass too short or you will encourage moss to grow. A little and often is the best way. Also change your mowing pattern as this will create a more even growth of grass. If you are going to water your lawn, make sure you water it thoroughly. A little water even when done regularly, will not make any difference. In March and then again in October you will need to rake and aerate your lawn. Raking will remove any moss, while scarifying it with a spiked roller or piercing with a garden fork will help your lawn to breath and aid growth.
Don't allow autumn leaves to gather and decay on the lawn, but sweep them up as soon as they fall. Common lawn weeds such as dandelion and dock can be removed by hand or with a spot weedkiller. If you are removing these weeds by hand be careful to remove the whole of the long tap root or the plant will re-grow. Finally, feed your lawn with potash and phosphates in the autumn, and nitrogen in spring, to keep it growing lush and healthy.
Try to avoid a square shaped lawn, curves are much more appealing and soften the planting either side. Long narrow lawns make stunning features with large garden planters such as urns or statues placed at one end to give perspective and draw the eye.