Climate Change- The Challenges Ahead!
The climate over the last few years has been rapidly changing. With more rainfall and dramatically fluctuating temperatures, our lawns have been suffering through saturation and a lack of air.
Despite these factors, we expect the same of our lawn. Just like any plant life that is growing outdoors, lawns have had to adjust. Whilst many plants are stressed, the fragile root systems of the grass plant are struggling further still. So what can we do to help? Here are five recommendations:
1) Regular AERATION –
Soils have lost significant air space during these wet periods and putting air back into the profile is essential. Hollow and solid tining are two ways to do this. Anything is better than nothing.
2) Regular SCARIFICATION -
The factor of too much thatch will cause problems during stressful conditions. During a period of heavy rainfall the surface will remain wet as the water cannot disperse through the thatch. This is a perfect situation for moss to thrive. Start around March and continue through April, if conditions stay damp. You can also do September through to October.
3) Regular FERTILISATION –
A well balanced diet of food is required for plants. That’s right, living plants as fragile as grass require supplementary food. Each time we mow the grass, we are putting vital food straight into the compost bin! Feeds last anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks, dependant on the time of year and product used.
4) Weed Control -
Too many weeds generally suggests unhealthy grass. It is normally a sign that the plant has not enough food, not enough light or just may be getting cut badly. If there are gaps in your sward, weeds will take their chance.
This is key in any lawn care programme. Irregular mowing can set back any good work done by fertilizers, aeration and so on. Your grasses will have an optimum height of cut and some grasses require more regular mowing than other.
So what does good mowing involve?
Regular mowing - Look at great sporting venues such as Augusta National, Wimbledon, Wembley and they have one thing in common … regular mowing. In essence, if you are cutting the grass regularly and not allowing the grass to use its energy upwards then it will have no choice but to grow sideways. The more you cut your grass the thicker it will become. Cut in different directions also, to stop the grass ‘graining’.
Correct height - There are many types of grasses with different growth habits and patterns. Most new lawns are seeded with dwarf ryegrasses, designed to give you greener grass for most of the year, but if cut lower than 25mm otherwise they mayl struggle to survive. Older, traditional lawns consist of fescues, bents and meadow grasses which although they tolerate shorter mowing, require higher maintenance.
Blunt lawnmowers - Grasses have a very delicate leaf and when cut badly it will tear the grass and put the plant under stress. In poor weather conditions this can lead to disease outbreaks which in turn can thin out your lawn. So check the grass leaves and if they are torn then you need to sharpen the blades.
In conclusion, if you want your lawn to compliment the house and garden then it needs to be maintained, sensibly, with regular feeding, scarifying, aeration, mowing and maintenance of your lawnmower. It’s not complicated but regularity is the key to a healthy lawn.
It’s achievable…….a little bit of guidance is all that is required.