One thing is certain – lawn care in the UK is changing. Not just the techniques we use but the way it’s presented to the countries gardening enthusiasts through TV, internet and magazines. It’s exciting! And for me it can’t come fast enough. But is lawn care undergoing evolution – or is it revolution? Where’s the driving force coming from – and who is demanding the change?
I think everyone – gardeners, professional lawn companies, garden suppliers and TV presenters – would agree that evolution sounds much better. And I’d agree with them too BUT I think this evolution needs a little revolutionary fervor to help it along. I’ll explain this by laying out all the cards – how we got to where we are, who’s holding it back, and how it could – no, must – change.
Grass – it isn’t just the most resilient and adaptable plant on the planet: it’s what brings serenity and the perfect backdrop to our gardens and open spaces. It cools us in the summer, it softens the colourful fireworks of our borders and flowerbeds, it’s the canvas onto which gardeners paint the rest of their garden…
..and it’s been doing this for a very, very long time. Fads have come and gone but in the post-decking age the lawn continues to thrive. And for good reason – it is the part of the garden that best supports essential biodiversity and, cared for properly, is one of the most environmentally-responsible parts too.
However, the lawn’s resilience has not been nurtured by the profession; it’s happened because we in the UK love our lawns.(according to a recent poll by Homebase, 1 in 4 of us love our lawn-that’s a lot of people! And yet 70% claim to not know what they are doing. The other 30% or so? Maybe they think they are still doing it well?) Whatever the experts? may tell us or urge us to do in our gardens, we still hang on to our lawns. And this highlights a confusing paradox:
Why, when the topic is so enduringly popular, has it been so overlooked by the media?
Is it because TV producers think lawns are bland and of no interest? Have they worried that only the most exotic and outlandish topics will gain a following?
Is it because people, mistakenly, think that lawns and lawn care are too simple to bother with?
Has it been the result of a very few influential producers, writers and presenters who happen, simply just not to like lawns?
Or is it – another paradox – because they actually think that good lawn care is unachievable for most people because they base it on the perfection of Wimbledon’s Centre Court?
I’ve been racking my brains for years looking for the answer, and I think there is some truth in all these hypotheses. However, I’ve realized that the main reason for lawn care being kicked to the bottom of the schedules is different – and it has three parts to it.
Lack of leadership: Whether by accident or design, there has never been a spokesperson representing and standing up for this centerpiece of so many gardens. And there has certainly never been anyone with sufficient expertise to correct the inaccuracies and misinformation that have been peddled for decades.
Even the lawn profession got it wrong: It’s true. Only now are lawn companies beginning to embrace the correct basic principles. It’s not their fault – everyone assumed that what works for professional sports turf care works for the domestic garden. Well, here’s some news – it doesn’t!
Lawn care’s evolution has gone forwards AND backwards: Evolution does this, improving things in one area but actually making things worse in another. Banning the nasty chemicals was good evolution but it wasn’t replaced by the good news that the best lawn care is natural lawn care. That message never got through.
Another example is the mower. The earliest were cylinder mowers, able to cut very short and evenly, giving us the beautiful striped bowling green finish that is held up as the example to follow. Then, for good practical reasons, the rotary mower was invented – powerful, rugged but not as good at actually cutting blades of grass!
So, we’ve got media gardeners who either hate lawns or don’t have sufficient expertise(they will be advised by horticultural researchers…..gardeners!) to help us; we’ve got hard-working gardeners trying to achieve the Wimbledon standards because no one is telling them that a really good, healthy lawn can be achieved much more easily. And we’ve got a lot of outdated advice still floating around. I guess no one ever claimed that evolution was a fast process!
And that’s why I’m injecting a little bit of revolution into modern lawn care. We are on the verge (excuse the pun) of a really exciting revolution in our gardens, with leading UK suppliers and lawn care companies revising their products, staff training and techniques. We have the gardening media taking the first real interest in lawns ever, with prime slots at Gardeners World Live and a genuine desire to increase coverage in TV programmes. And we even have, at last, a new, completely up to date book written by an expert. That’s right – me, your revolutionary lawn care specialist.
So, exciting times and great things lie ahead. And to answer the question I posed at the start – who is driving this evolution – well, I’m only playing a part. It’s you the garden enthusiasts up and down the country who are the driving force, who remained loyal to your lawn and who are already beginning to see things change – look around your local Homebase, research Greensleeves lawn specialists – read my book. It’s all happening, and the future has never looked so green for your lawn.