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If you’re spending a lot of time and money on an ornamental or croquet lawn then you MUST get a soil test done at a laboratory. You should also request advice and recommendations on required soil amendments for the type of grasses you will be growing. Even if you’re not planning an ornamental lawn a soil test is still a good idea as it can save trouble later on down the road particularly if you’re grassing a largish area. At a minimum buy a pH tester, it may well save you sowing the wrong grass seed or turf! If you’re not getting a soil test done and don’t intend amending the soil then a few simple tips are worth considering:If you get this bit right not only will the lawn look and grow better it will also be easier to maintain and cause fewer problems.
These may be planned or part of the existing landscape. Whichever they are consider the following:
There are two factors here. Firstly drainage from the lawn; ideally you want this away from the house if the lawn runs up to the walls. If the lawn slopes the wrong way install drainage along the wall otherwise it’ll just end up as mud.
Secondly, patios and driveways can drain into the lawn; if you have a slow draining heavy soil this can cause considerable stress to the grass. If this is the case put in drainage tiles or ‘soakaways’ at the lawn edge or put drains into the patio or driveway.
If the site is particularly prone to water logging then installing a free draining base layer may be the answer.
I’m not a garden designer but I know what makes for an easy to maintain lawn:
If you are happy with the depth or levels of the area then maintaining it as you prepare the ground is all that is important. However, if changes need to be made or you are adding volume with additional soil you will need to mark out with pegs and string the new levels you wish to achieve. These should only be removed once final levels are achieved in the surface preparation stage.
For seeding a lawn consider April onwards when temperatures start getting to 100C and are consistently above 50C. Summer months are great if you can be diligent with watering if there is little or no rain. Late August and September are also ideal when the rains start but before the autumn gets chilly.
Turfing can be done at pretty much any time though summer will require considerable watering. Therefore, turfing is best done in cooler wetter conditions and makes a perfect winter job with November to March being the traditional turfing period.
Finally, don’t rush; the more time you can give the project the better. This is particularly true when you come to preparing the soil and a clean seed bed.
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