Lawns and Lawn Care - 2 Fertilisers and weed killers
 - Any Questions?

Achieving a beautiful greensward isn't always as smooth and easy a process as we'd like it to be.


Q. I have just sown some grass seed which I have just cut for the first time having reached 5 cms. It appears to be heavily infested with weeds which I cannot yet identify as the first leaves are quite tiny, they look as though they could be deadnettle or worse stinging nettle. Is there a weed killer that I can use at this early stage ?

A. I wouldn't use a weedkiller on it until it's well established. Nettles will soon be killed by repeated mowings so it won't be a long term problem. In the short term however, they will compete with the young grass plants. Pull any sizeable roots out by hand where possible and mow a little and often. I wouldn't weedkill until at least September or even next spring. After a few more mowings you'll find that the problem will recede anyhow.


Q. We moved into a new home last March it was graded and seeded in the spring that afternoon we had a major storm that washed huge ruts into the yard. Upon calling the developer he said that the machines push the seeds deep into the ground but they would take care of the problem. They somewhat fixed ruts only to have a big storm several days later. Now they are not willing to repair again, we are seeding ourselves a third time and even a little storm washes everything including large amounts of dirt, how do we go about fixing the huge ruts that run through the entire yard? Any help regarding this would be greatly appreciated.

A.  Well nothing is going to grow properly from seed in the conditions that you mention. Either one of two things needs to happen, and possibly both. 1/ You need to deflect the rain run-off until the lawn is established. 2/ You need to establish a lawn using turf and not seed as it will be more complete more quickly and so become resistant to rain run-off.

It also sounds to me that the developer may have created the problem in the way that they built the property with hard surfaces, drives etc. There shouldn't ever be that amount of run off across a lawn except in dire extremis. The main problem (I'd guess, I can't see it from here) is one of adequate drainage from hard non-porous surfaces creating the run-off. Where does the water come from? Does it all originate on your property or does it flow down the road (for instance) first? It sounds like you need to get serious with the developer (in a very polite and dignified manner of course). Work out carefully what the problem is, write it down and confront them with it. Are they still around? In a show-house maybe? going in and being very insistent on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon while they're trying to sell can work wonders, double points if there's a sales manager present.


Q. I have decided to repair my lawn. It looks like a bomb site, it is totally uneven and covered in weeds. I would like to turn all of the soil over and redo it. The garden lawn is 75 feet by 25 feet. How would I turn all of the soil over and then make sure the level is the same all over ?

A. You need to kill the grass and weeds with a weedkiller, make sure it's not one that stays in the soil! scrape the dead grass / weeds off. Hire a rotavator and Rotovate the area. Level off using pegs hammered into the soil, string lines and a spirit level. A wheelbarrow or buckets are useful to move soil - dig it and barrow it, pushing along the ground is hard work and ineffective! Rotovate again, they help to level things out well too.

I'd suggest spending a day with a rotavator leveling it out and then get the turf delivered on another day. If you've never done it before give yourself time.


Q. We have bought a holiday house in France. most of the garden consists of a patch of ground the size of a small field. at present the local farmer comes in once or twice a year and cuts the ' lawn' with his tractor. We will go three times per year. The 'lawn' is just full of tussocky clumps of grass about shin high. What can we do to improve the appearance of this 'lawn'. At present the grass is dead due to prolonged drought. I had thought that next time we go - October - I would rake up as much of the cut / dead grass as possible. Apply a weed killer (can I get a weedkiller for tussocky grass?) and just before leaving sow some grass seed which is - drought resistant, doesn't grow too high, stays green in drought conditions, will be as tough as the existing grass which is bound to resurface or at least compete with it to give a better lawn. any advice?

A. The main reason the grass is the way it is, is that it is cut so infrequently. You could do the clear and start again approach that you suggest, though a new lawn from seed is a delicate thing and I'd always advise being there to water if it doesn't rain within 7 days.

If you spray it with weedkiller, you need then to clear the dead growth, rotavate the cleared ground, rake it to a fine tilth and then sow the grass seed into this. I guess you won't have the time to do this.

I'd suggest there are two approaches to make it a half decent lawn.

1/ You pay a local landscaper / gardener to carry out your weedkiller / reseed approach at the appropriate time, water it and look after it.

2/ You get the grass cut on a more regular basis than meadow land management approach that your local farmer is carrying out at the moment. (this seems the more likely to succeed option).

I'm afraid there is no grass that fits your criteria for solving the problem. Good lawns are more than anything the product of good preparation and good continual management. Regular mowing (according to a local, rather your imposed regimen) is probably the easiest way forward. Also, bear in mind that the concept of the British lawn is often unknown beyond the shores of the British Isles. Ultimately it depends on how much you want to spend on it. A good quality lawn maintained in absentia will be an expensive thing to have. A half-decent regularly mown lawn - as opposed to meadow - shouldn't be so bad. At the moment, you are applying meadow land management and so that is what you have.


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