Lawn Care Experts

Articles within the Lawn Cuttings Category

Here are some of the more minor lawn care treatments, problems and topics that are still important if you want your lawn to be a pleasure

Rolling the Lawn

A great idea in theory but often quite damaging in practice!

The Misconception(s)Lawn Roller

Many people believe that because there is always a massive roller parked alongside every cricket pitch in the country then rolling grass is a good thing indeed. Yes, but only if you want something hard enough to bounce a cricket ball off of! This is not how 99% of sports turf or lawns need to be. The second misconception is that rolling flattens the lawn. Though it may flatten a few worm casts or a little frost heave it won’t flatten your lawn. All rolling will do is firm the ground. Therefore, if you’ve got a hard bump in the lawn it will still be a hard bump even if rolled until the cows come home.

Rolling your Lawn

So, rolling is to firm the surface; meaning the top 1” to 2” of soil. A light roller, half filled water roller or a pedestrian lawn mower roller can be used to firm top dressing and roll after seeding. Generally you would not need anything heavier unless you have an ornamental or croquet lawn. In this case a full water roller, medium solid roller or sit on mower roller can be used to gently firm the surface in dryish conditions after frost, activity or after hollow tining. Caution should be observed with the very old concrete filled rollers. They can be very heavy and quite narrow so apply a lot of pressure per square inch. You can do more harm than good with these.

Levelling the Lawn

The only way to remove bumps and hollows is to add or remove soil. Sometimes repeated top dressing can solve the problem but other times a little surgery is required. See Repairing the Lawn for more advice.

Pet Friendly & Child Safe Lawns

Child-safeWhen the new arrival (puppy, kitten or baby) is ready for the great outdoors many people become overly cautious and see dangers around every corner. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as we bring some logic to the equation because the advantages of lawns, gardens and the countryside far outweigh the dangers.

A well maintained lawn is a healthy place

  • It reduces the threat of flooding by trapping rain water with minimal runoff
  • It traps dust and dirt particles keeping the air and windows cleaner
  • It absorbs road and airborne noises making homes and neighbourhoods quieter
  • It traps the sun’s rays reducing air temperature in and around the home
  • It is one of the safest play surfaces known to man
  • A 200 square meter lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four
  • A healthy lawn is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon foot print

Lawn mowers and power tools are the main danger. Do keep the kids away when using them!

Lawn Fertiliser in bulk needs to be stored out of reach but granular (like mini pellets or sea salt) products once spread on the lawn sink into the turf and can hardly be seen let alone contacted so present next to no danger. The main hazard here is powdered products which stick to the leaves and can persist as a problem for several days or until watered in. In addition, Weed and Feed fertiliser mixtures are very powdery and also contain pesticides so need extra care. At Lawnsmith we prefer to keep it safe so our fertilisers are granular, not powder and do not contain weed killers or pesticides.
Common Sense Lawn CarePet-Friendly
The liquid fertilisers, soluble fertilisers and liquid weed killers available in the Lawnsmith Shop are all considered safe once dry. We advise that grazing animals (hens and ducks included) are kept off for 3 cuts.

Fungicides are not selective and can kill helpful fungi in the lawn so we don’t recommend their use as there are other ways to address disease problems. Insecticides are rarely used on turf but you may need to control an ant invasion on occasions. Just follow the directions on the products and you can achieve a safe lawn that won’t bite!

Get Fertiliser Get Weed Killer

Dog & Bitch Urine

Though large dogs can rip a lawn to shreds when playing the main cause of lawn damage comes from their urine.

There is an element of truth in the old wives tale that bitch urine is more harmful. The fact is the ladies squat and deposit urine in one large dose whereas the fella’s go round spraying a bit here and a bit there to mark their territories. This means there is usually an insufficient amount from the male to cause much damage.

Dog & Bitch Urine The urine is a highly concentrated nitrogen liquid not too dissimilar to ammonia or bleach. Remember:  nitrogen is also a fertiliser! So, poor a cup of bleach on to your lawn and you’ll soon get a dead brown patch just as if the dog had peed! It’s the concentration that is deadly NOT the chemical, just like a bottle of wine is not lethal but a bottle of Stolichnaya might be!

Now, if you put a small cup of bleach into a watering can of water and watered a few square metres of lawn you’d end up with lovely lush green grass….. completely the opposite of dead because you’ve diluted it!

The problem is the same for bleach as it is for dog urine. Initially the concentration is so high that they both act as poisons and therefore the grass dies within days. A week or so after the dead patch has formed you’ll notice a green ring of tall lush grass surrounding it. This is because the urine has become diluted with rain or ground water and as the urine contains nitrogen (a fertiliser) it now starts feeding the grass.

Dilution is the Solution!

Stopping the dog peeing may be impractical so you have two options to prevent urine burn:

Keep your eye on the dog when it first goes on to the lawn and poor a bucket of water on to the place where the dog pees to dilute the urine.

Better still keep a high level of moisture in the lawn where the dog pees. During dry spells, put the sprinkler on once or twice a week for an hour. Then when the dog goes to the toilet the urine will dilute very quickly due to soil moisture thus reducing most of the damage.

I’ve heard of people putting tomato juice on to the dogs food or putting ‘Dogrocks’ into the dogs water to reduce the urine burn but I can’t find any proof that they work. Do you know different? Let me know so we can pass on the advice.

Tip: It also helps if you keep the lawn as healthy as possible by feeding every spring and autumn and mow weekly on the high side. Use the middle to top height settings on your mower only.

Dead Patches from Urine Burn

If you’re reading this because the damage is already done then hopefully the above helps with reducing future damage. Existing dead urine burn patches, less than two inches across will more than likely grow over in a month or two. If the patches are bigger or you want to speed recovery in smaller patches:

  • Rake out the dead grass
  • Prick the soil surface about 1cm deep with the garden fork
  • Lightly sprinkle in grass seed – about 10 – 20 seeds per square inch, no more
  • Tread the surface to firm
  • Water lightly and at least daily for the first 2 weeks

Leaves on the Lawn

Leaves on the LawnLeaves are beautiful when they are on the tree but can be a nightmare when they start to fall clogging up drains, gutters, lawns, paths and driveways. As a lawn owner this is one thing you do need to take care of as leaf damage can be long lasting and can affect even the toughest and roughest of lawns.

  • Leaves can smother the grass and kill it in just a few weeks
  • Leaves decrease grass vigour allowing moss to take over
  • Leaves can promote lawn disease
  • Leaves attract and make life very cosy for worms
  • Worms are attractive to moles!

This means you should clear leaves from the lawn at least once a week. You can use a variety of tools and equipment to make life easy:

  • Leaf rake
  • Petrol or electric blower
  • Rotary lawn mower
  • Leaf sweeper (pictured)
  • Lawn or leaf vacuum

Frost, Freezing and Snow

Frosty Grass

Frost by itself doesn’t cause any real damage. It’s only when you walk on it the damage occurs. Walking on a frosty lawn causes the frozen grass leaves to fracture. When this happens the frost ruptures the leaf cells seriously damaging the leaves. The effect is that ugly disfiguring foot prints form in the lawn and stay for quite some time.

Though the grass doesn’t suffer long term damage keeping off the lawn in frosty weather is beneficial particularly if the lawn is a feature of the garden. You may need to have a diplomatic word in the postman’s ear!

Freezing

Snowmen on the Lawn
Freezing conditions with or without frost and snow can cause the surface of the lawn to ‘heave up’ in response to water in the ground freezing and swelling. This can be particularly bad if you’ve hollow tined very late (too late) in the year.

Under normal conditions there is nothing you can do to prevent it but be prepared to give the lawn a light rolling in dry conditions in the spring to flatten the raised areas. Ensure worm casts are thoroughly dispersed before rolling.

Snow on the Lawn

Snow itself is generally not a problem but a fungal disease called snow mould (a variant of fusarium) can occur once the snow thaws. This will often happen in unusually dense areas of snow normally where a snow man has spent some time or if you’ve cleared the path or driveway and chucked the snow on the lawn! You’ll know not to do that next time because snow mould can kill the grass!!

If you’ve got kids and snow you’ll get snow men. Not necessarily the best thing for the lawn but hey, it’s loads of fun!

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