March brings a special glow to Canadian lawns as winter gives way to the first signs of fresh green grass. This vibrant emergence marks the arrival of spring and creates a captivating sight. It's an exciting time for lawn owners who want to give their turf a real boost and ensure its health and vitality for the upcoming season. However, many people may wonder what steps they should take to maximize their lawn's potential during this time.
We have received a multitude of questions from our GARDENA Newsletter readers regarding lawns in recent weeks, and we appreciate your engagement! While we can only address a few questions in each newsletter, we have compiled all the inquiries and provided answers in this Lawn Special edition. To make it easier for you to find the information you're looking for, we have organized the responses alphabetically using keywords. Simply browse through the extensive list of keywords to access the expert advice from GARDENA and make the most of your lawn this season. In today's edition, we'll cover topics from aerification to moss in lawns, while Part 2 will focus on lawn types, turf, weed removal, and scarifying. Welcome to Part 1 of our exciting Lawn Special!
Indeed, the term "aerification" does exist, and we would be delighted to explain it to you! It refers to the process of improving the ventilation of grass roots. Lawns are often situated on soil types that lack sufficient sand content, which restricts the amount of air reaching the roots. Since roots need to breathe, this can result in compacted soil and hinder lawn growth. Aerification, which involves adding air to the soil, can be a beneficial solution. Special gardening and landscaping tools are used to create holes or perforations in the lawn. These holes are then filled with coarse sand to prevent them from becoming muddy. This facilitates better drainage of surface water and allows the grass roots to receive more air, promoting healthier lawn growth. For smaller lawns or problematic areas with clayey soil or standing water, you can perform aerification using a digging fork.
We understand that ants can be an annoyance for homeowners. They are often found near path slabs or stepping stones on lawns, although they are less common in the middle of lawns. While they may create sand piles, they typically don't directly damage the lawn itself.
To address the issue of ants, there are a few methods you can try. Using ant-killer products can be effective for managing ant populations in larger areas. However, it's important to carefully follow the instructions provided with the product and exercise caution when using chemical treatments.
For smaller areas or a more natural approach, you can consider using baking powder. Sprinkling baking powder during dry weather can disrupt ant trails and discourage their presence. It's important to note that this method may be less effective for larger ant colonies.
Keep in mind that large wood ants are a protected species and should not be harmed. These ants are commonly found in areas near woodlands. If you come across large wood ants, it is best to leave them undisturbed as they play a vital role in the ecosystem.
If you are dealing with significant ant infestations or have specific concerns about ants in your lawn, it may be helpful to consult with a local pest control professional for personalized advice and guidance.
Making work easier
If you are about to plant a lawn, do not use just any seed. There are now labour-saving seed mixes which grow flatter and around a third more slowly. This means less mowing for you and fewer trimmings to remove.
Opinions on tree pits can vary, and it's a subject open to debate. Personally, I'm not fond of planting trees in lawns due to the inconvenience caused by fallen blossoms and leaves. Lawns require prompt clearing to prevent damage to the grass, and maneuvering around trees during mowing can be bothersome. Additionally, creating more lawn edges means additional maintenance.
However, if you already have trees in your lawn, it is important to consider creating a separate tree pit to ensure the tree's roots receive adequate air circulation. Particularly on loamy soils, tree roots tend to surface. This can lead to constant damage from lawnmowers, especially for older trees. Moreover, if grass extends right up to the trunk, the bark is susceptible to being bumped and damaged.
A tree pit serves two main functions: providing distance from mowers and trimmers and protecting the tree's roots. However, it's crucial to avoid packing the mulch too tightly, as this can restrict root respiration. It's better to keep the mulch loose and occasionally use a hoe to maintain airflow.
Ultimately, the decision to plant trees in lawns or create tree pits depends on personal preferences and the specific needs of your lawn and trees. Consider the potential challenges and maintenance requirements associated with each option before making a choice.
In some lawn areas, the presence of plants like speedwell, white clover, and daisies can unintentionally create a flowery meadow effect. However, it's important to note that if you choose to sow a meadow in your lawn, it will significantly limit the area's use. Flowery meadows are not designed for regular or frequent activity.
For sowing a meadow, you can utilize commercially available seed mixtures specifically designed for this purpose. These mixtures typically include a variety of grasses and herbs, with some short-lived varieties like cornflowers and poppies that won't persist for long. The long-term varieties in the mixture are those that can thrive in the specific location. By sowing a meadow, you can indeed reduce the frequency of mowing. Mowing the lawn twice a year, in June and October, should be sufficient. However, keep in mind that you will have larger quantities of mown grass to deal with, and you will need a scythe, motor-drive scythe, or a cutter bar instead of a regular small garden lawnmower.
Some owners of flowering lawns choose to mow only once, in September. They wait for the majority of flower varieties to ripen their seeds, which typically hasn't fully occurred in June.
Deciding to create a flowery meadow in your lawn requires careful consideration of the trade-offs and adjustments in maintenance practices. Assess your preferences and requirements before embarking on this endeavor.
Lime is an important element that is often overlooked when it comes to lawn care. Insufficient lime levels can restrict the growth of lawn grasses, especially for grass types like fescue that prefer slightly acidic soil. The ideal pH range for lawns is between 5.5 and 6.5.
To maintain proper lime levels, it is recommended to apply around 50 to 60 grams of agricultural lime per square meter per year. However, the frequency of lime application may vary depending on the soil type. Sandy soils typically require more frequent lime applications compared to clay soils, which have better lime retention.
If you have a soil probe and can determine the pH value of your lawn, you can calculate the amount of lime needed to adjust the pH. Adding 60 grams of lime per square meter will raise the pH value by approximately 0.5. For example, if you measure a pH of 4 and aim to increase it to 6, you would need 4 multiplied by 60 grams of lime per square meter, which totals around 240 grams. A 25 kg sack of lime would be sufficient for approximately 100 square meters of lawn.
By regularly monitoring the pH of your lawn and applying lime as needed, you can ensure optimal conditions for the growth and health of your grass.
To prevent compost from smelling, it's important to layer thin amounts of grass trimmings, no more than 10 cm thick, alternating with dry composting materials like chopped dry stems or thin branches. This combination of damp, nitrogen-rich materials with dry, carbon-rich materials promotes optimal decomposition conditions. Good ventilation is key to maintaining an odor-free compost pile. By following these practices, you can avoid the unpleasant smell often associated with composting cut plants.
Yes, they make mowing lawns easy, because ideally they cut up the trimmings so small that they can fall onto the ground between the stalks and decay there, thus providing nutrients for the grass. But you have to be aware that this really requires a good lawn base and healthy, well-fed grass. It does not work so well on problematic soils (too compacted or too wet). In such cases, the trimmings remain between the stalks for too long in the form of a layer which prevents the flow of fertiliser, hides the stalks from the light, and encourages the growth of moss. So: Use your mulch mower but use a scarifier at least once - and more often if necessary.
Sowing new seeds
Delay sowing new seeds until the soil temperature has reached around 14 degrees. The seeds will then germinate more quickly and the young plants will grow faster. Depending on the seeds used, around 30 to 40 grammes per square metre is sufficient. If you are less experienced at spreading fertiliser and cannot rely on intuition to get an even spread, use a fertiliser spreader which also has a setting option to ensure even seeding. Don't forget to roll the seeds in afterwards! If you want or need to water the seeds in the fourteen days or so before they germinate due to really dry weather, do so very carefully so you do not flush them off the surface - this requires a delicate touch, especially on slopes. People often ask when it is best to mow for the first time: Wait for three or four weeks and then only mow if the lawn is starting to green over, when the stalks are around eight centimetres long. Cut it to around five centimetres now; when the grass is mown for the third or fourth time and is thicker, it can be gradually cut to three centimetres.