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Seed and Sowing
When choosing the seed, the future use of the grassed area and its site should be considered. There are different mixes available made up of a number of species of grass which can cope with the local conditions and withstand the type of wear to which the finished lawn will be subjected. For a 'luxury' lawn with the 'bowling green' look, which will only have to tolerate some gentle strolling, then a mixture if the finer Bents and Fescues would suit. If the lawn is going to be used as a playing surface, a 'utility' mix would be the choice. So the front, more ornamental grass could be the luxury mix and the back garden would have the utility mix.
Below is a table of the more commonly found grass species to be found in seed mixes. Some grow as a tuft so the finished sward is made up of individual plants and others spread using rhizomes or stolons to form a mat of connected plants.
Grass Species Quality Growth Habit Properties Brown Bent,
Agrostis canina montana
luxuryBent dense tufts, creeping rhizomes good drought resistance Browntop,
luxury Bent tillers using short stolons and rhizomes fairly drought resistant, suits dry, acid soils Creeping Bent,
luxury Bent spreads by stolons shallow roots giving it poor resistance to drought and wear Velvet Bent,
Agrostis canina canina
luxury Bent fine leaves, tillers by stolons prefers damp, shade tolerant Chewings Fescue,
luxury Fescue dense tufts, no rhizomes good drought resistance, relatively quick to establish Creeping Red Fescue,
Festuca rubra rubra
luxury Fescue spreads by slender rhizomes drought and shade tolerant, not for close mowing, suits most soils except heavy clay Hard Fescue, Festuca longifolia luxury Fescue low-growing, tufted, no rhizomes suits most soil, except heavy clay; tough, tolerates drought and close mowing; used in sports fields Smooth-stalked Meadow Grass,
utility slender rhizomes and stolons hard wearing; not for close mowing; prefers well drained, acid soil, suits shady site Rough-stalked Meadow Grass,
utility tufted with short stolons suits wet and shady areas; not so hardy Wood Meadow Grass
utility tufted, no rhizomes good in deep shade; does not withstand frequent mowing Annual Meadow Grass,
utility tufted, sometimes has short stolons withstands close mowing; suits all soil types and in shade. Considered a weed in luxury lawn Perennial Rygrass,
utility tufted quick to establish, all soil types. Newer varieties - 'Manhattan' & 'Hunter' withstand closer mowing Timothy,
utility tufted with a swelling at base of stems hard-wearing; shallow roots, not drought tolerant
There is an old saying which describes the amount of seed you will need:-
"One for the Sparrow, one for the Crow,(Some versions say Rook instead of Sparrow)
One to rot and one to grow"
When sowing seed measure out the required amount, split it in two, sowing half in one direction and half at right angles. This should result in a more even spread of the seed. The rate of sowing is about 30 to 45g (1 to 1.5oz) per square metre; do not leave dense clumps as this can lead to damping off. Roughly speaking this is a handful to 2 square metres in each direction, hold your closed hand, fingers upward at waist height, and shake in a circular motion allowing the seed to fall out. Rake gently - a spring-tined rake used upside down works well. Deter birds with carrier bags tied to canes placed around the area.
When the grass has grown to about 50mm it should be rolled to settle in the roots and encourage tillering. Use the roller of a mower with the blades tipped up or hire one as this is probably the only time you will ever need it. When the grass stands up again in a day or so, it can be lightly trimmed at the highest setting of the mower.
Most of the turves sold at garden centres contain mainly Rye-grass so are best suited to a utility lawn, for a finer finish you will have to find a specialist grower. When choosing the turf unroll it first to check that it is recently cut and has not been sitting around for days - ie. no yellowing blades of grass and the soil is moist. Also the root system should be mature enough to hold together if you give it a tug, otherwise it will fall apart as it is laid.
To reduce the maintenance to a minimum some areas of the garden can have a wildflower 'meadow' effect by reducing the fertility and allowing the grass to grow naturally. A number of wildflower species are included and cutting is only required once in the late summer to allow the annual seeds to fall and germinate for the following year. If a patch of grass has been mowed (removing the cuttings) and unfertilized for a long period, it will be pale and weeds will have invaded. By digging out the more invasive weeds like Creeping Buttercups it should have the potential to become a 'meadow' area. It is difficult for the wild flowers to establish from seed so they are usually introduced in the form of plug plants, either bought in or raised in trays.
Grass Preparation Turf Maintenance Lawnmowers Weeds and Pests
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