Gardens: The grass can always be greener

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A GREAT lawn is the centrepiece of any garden, and if the lawn looks good it makes the rest of the garden shine.

If you are planning a new lawn this summer, Luke Chamberlain plant manager at Dobbies Garden World, Melville, offers top preparation tips:

• Measure the area before buying seeds or turf taking into account any borders and paths

• The soil preparation is important so prepare a few weeks in advance by clearing any weeds, rubbish and large stones. Dig or rotovate and level the top 15-25 cm. If the soil is wet, clay or liable to water logging, drainage may be needed

• Mark out the area you want, preparing an area 15-25cm larger than you want so that the grass or turf can be cut to a firm edge when fully established.

• Kill of any old grass and weeds using a general weed killer.

• Sprinkle a balanced fertiliser, such as bone meal, over the area

• If possible, dig in compost or well rotted manure and leave to settle for a fortnight

• Rake over the ground to make it level

• Tread the ground flat or use a roller on larger areas if the ground is dry.

A newly planted lawn required ongoing care. “Lawns need plenty of water,” says Luke. “A garden hose is essential but a spinning sprinkler can make it easier. It is better to water thoroughly from time to time rather than little and often and avoid watering in the heat of the day or during a drought.

“When your lawn is around 8cm long, start mowing regularly. For the first mow, keep the blades as high as possible then gradually lower the blades. Do not mow when grass is wet or during a drought.

“Feed your lawn twice a year in spring and autumn to make it look dense and lush. Use a liquid lawn fertiliser to minimise grass scorching in very dry weather.

”In autumn use a garden fork to create holes to aerate the lawn then sprinkle sand to create lasting drainage channels.

“Keep weeds at bay by hand weeding or applying a selective weed killer that kills the weeds but not the grass. To repair bare patches use turf or try re-seeding.”