So you want the perfect lawn, the best looking lawn in the neighbourhood, and why not. There is something special about driving past a lovely property that boasts a beautiful lawn, the stripes of green, the manicured edges, it brings house and garden into harmony. However, planting the perfect lawn is hard work and time consuming. But it will pay dividends for years to come. You will be the envy of your neighbourhood.
Starting a lawn for the first time can seem a daunting task. The first thing you should do is sit down and make a plan. Go to the library, get some gardening books. Go online look at pictures of lawns and gardens and get some idea of what you want. What shape will fit well with your property. Formal or informal. Personally I prefer curves rather than straight lines. List the practicalities, where will you put the barbecue area, the children's play area. Decide what plants and flowers you will want, and where are they going to be planted. Where are the paths going to run, and what material will they be made from, what colour. Put it all down on paper, draw a map of what you see in your head.
Once you have committed yourself and decided to go ahead with the project the next step is check your soil PH. You can send samples to a laboratory, the easiest way is to look them up online. But its much easier to pop into your local garden store or plant nursery. Depending on the PH of your soil, you may have to add lime if its too acidic. Or, if its too alkaline then add sulphur. A PH of between 6 and 7.5 is ideal.
Creating the perfect lawn will need good preparation. Depending on how rough your ground is you may need to hire a Rotavator or tiller. This is especially true for 'new' or uncultivated ground. After Rotavating, rake the ground flat and level. Throw away all the stones and any lumps of hard soil. Spreading a layer of rich fertilizer to act as a mulch will help. To finish, roll the lawn area and water.
To sow or to turf. That is the question. Turfing will produce a lawn much quicker, within six weeks. Make sure that you order quality cultivated turf as opposed to pasture turf which is cheaper and will contain weeds and other unwanted material. Try and lay the turf as soon as its delivered, rolled turf will last two days before it starts to turn yellow.
By now you will already have decided what type of grass seed you will be using. This will depend on a multitude of factors. Firstly, is your soil sandy or clay, is the lawn area in sunny spot or a shady spot, what about climate. Different species of grass can be used for a cool temperate climate or a hot sunny one. Is your lawn simply to look at and enjoy, like a rosebush. Or will it be a utility type lawn, one that is used by the kids, the dog, and having BBQs.
Sow lawn seed in the spring or early autumn. Measure the lawn area and work out the squared area that you will be seeding. You will need between 40 – 50 grams of seed per square yard. You can sow the grass seed by hand, known as 'broadcasting'. But hiring a wheeled spreader will give much better coverage and is recommended for larger areas. When using a wheeled spreader divide the total amount of seed into two. Spread one half walking across the plot side to side and the second half walking up and down. This will give maximum coverage and the seed will be spread evenly. Rake the seed in to depth of 1/4 inch (6mm)
After seeding keep the lawn area moist with regular watering but do not make the mistake of over watering. Over watering can cause your seed to rise up and float about, resulting in a patchy lawn. Or, your seeds may be washed away.
Mowing your lawn can be hard work, or it can be a simple task that you look forward to . . . if you have the right mower ! Deciding on which lawn mower to buy can be a nightmare, mowers come in all shapes, sizes and models. You are presented with a bewildering array of choices and drives. Basically mowers are divided into two main types, electric and petrol. Electric mowers come as 'corded' or 'chargeable' they are much quieter and have a light weight construction. Many electric mowers are hover machines. Hover mowers actually hover above the ground as the blades cut the grass. All come as corded with an electric flex. These types are more suitable for the smaller lawn.
Petrol mowers have engines so are heavier, but are easily maintained, and easily manoeuvred over most terrain including wet grass and high grass. These types of machines are a must for large lawns, and for really large areas you should consider a 'sit on' mower. Petrol mowers are divided again into two main types. Rotary and cylinder. Rotary types are generally considered as robust heavy machines giving a rougher cut that will smash the grass away. Good for rough terrain as it will often leave the lawn looking rough and untidy. If your looking for that pristine manicured look then you will need a cylinder mower. These machines give a superior cut (its what the green keepers use on your local golf course) and will give you those much sought after stripes. Think carefully about the type of lawn that you want and it will be a simple matter of choosing the right machine.
Creating and seeding a lawn is just the first step. After care and maintenance is just as important. Work out a general routine of feeding and watering. Do not allow the grass to grow so long that it creates problems when being cut, and remember that all plants grow faster during the spring and summer, including grass. When watering you can add a soluble feed, this will keep your lawn in tip top condition. But use this soluble feed little and often. Fertilise twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. Keep on top of weeds, as soon as you see weeds appearing do something about it and get rid of them. And remember, a TLC goes a long way.