Watering Gardens: Learn How To Water A Garden

Like humans, plants need water regularly for their development and growth although there is a considerable difference in the quantity of the plants’ requirement. If you over water or underwater your plants, they will cease to exist. Therefore, you need to be very careful about this too.

After all, several minor factors combine to produce a healthy, green garden. People who are new to gardening are unaware of the watering requirements of the plants.

Therefore, they often neglect it and when their plants are on the verge of dying, they supply it with tons of water.

You should know that over watering is as harmful for plants as under watering. Sudden overdose of water can result in root displacement.

You need to understand that moderation is the key to having a beautiful garden and that does not mean only in terms of watering. Moderation should be adopted in every single aspect of gardening.

You should know when to provide plants, what they need and when to stop. Similarly, with watering too you should know your boundaries.

There are four important factors that you should take into account.

  • Watering Techniques — How to water your plants?
  • Watering Duration — How long should watering take place?
  • Application Frequency — How often should you water your plants?
  • Watering Location — Where exactly should you water the plants?

How Often Should You Water Your Garden?

The answer to this question lies in two important gardening aspects: soil type and weather. Warm soil tends to absorb water faster whereas frozen soils are not very good with absorption, so you can reduce their water intake.

Areas that experience frequent rain falls may not even need to use artificial water supplying sources. Soil has the ability to retain water and the roots of the plants can suck water from the soil if it stays hydrated.

Needless to say, that the only reason that could work is if your soil complements the weather. If you are using soil that rejects water, rain won’t be able to fulfil your plants’ watering requirements. Usually watering plants once a day is sufficient; however, if you see that your soil is excessively dry then you can water it twice a day.

Dry soil with cracks can also be an indication of the fact that its soil changing time. This is something that you will learn with time as you gain gardening experience.

Most gardeners say that early mornings are the best time to water plants. The cool morning breeze can speed up the drying process. If you water your plants late in the day, it won’t dry and can cause diseases in your plants.

Various Watering Techniques

Managing water while you are watering your plants is the right way to use it. In order to do that, you should be familiar with the various methods through which you can water your garden. If you have a single 2 foot by 3 foot square foots garden, then you can simply use a bucket to water it.

System for drip irrigation garden and garden
System for drip irrigation garden and garden

However, if your green environment consists of more than one square foot garden then you can definitely make use of one of these garden watering techniques and find out which one of these is ideal method for you. Let’s take a look at these techniques.

Hose

Hose is tubular equipment that carries water from tap to the other side of the garden. This is one of the simplest and widely used watering methods.

Hoses are similar to pipes except that pipes are rigid and do not bend easily whereas hoses are quite flexible. The material used in the manufacturing of hoses varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

The commonly used materials include nylon, PVC, polyethylene, synthetic rubbers, and polyurethane. Moreover, they are available in various colours, sizes and weights. Using a hose for watering plants is no big deal. Anyone can do it because it does not require any special training.

Moreover, it is cost effective and easily available. However, there are a few downsides of using this to water plants. It is not automated equipment; therefore, it can be a bit labor intensive.

Plus, watering through hose can get a little messy at times as the water pressure can disperse the soil. Another problem that people usually encounter with hoses is that the water usually sprays all over the leaves, which can lead to some fungal diseases and mould.

With hoses it is hard to evaluate whether the watering was even or not but then again there are positive and negative aspects of the tool.

Soaker Hose

As said before, this equipment will be of value to you only if your garden comprises of several small gardens. Soaker hoses are pretty much like hoses except they are porous and transference of water takes place slowly.

This allows water to reach deep into the roots of the plants. Moreover, they require minimum manual labor. The only work that you will have to perform after installation is turning the hose on and off.

Like the other type of hose, this hosepipe does not supply water evenly and you can’t control which plant gets more water and which doesn’t. But still it is one of the most convenient and cost effective watering solutions for gardens that occupy large area. Most soaker hoses are made of recycled rubber and the best ones are less than 50 feet in length.

If you want smooth water flow through soaker hoses, then you need to make sure that the hose is spread out on a levelled, flat surface. You can arrange it in straight lines or twist it around the garden bends, but make sure not to bury it inside the soil.

Bucket

This is one watering equipment that is present in every house, despite being in different sizes. Fill your bucket with water and take a pitcher to transfer the water from the bucket to the plants. You can take a particular pitcher or cup and use it as a measuring device to water plants. For instance, you can use a cup to water a grid or a plant daily. This way you’d be able to provide water to your plants at an even rate. There are a lot of advantages of using bucket as watering equipment.

First of all, you don’t need to go to the market and purchase extra equipments; you can find it easily at your homes.

It is an inexpensive method and anyone can carry it out. Besides hand watering enables you to view your garden on a daily bases and tend to it. When you do that, you can spot plant diseases and sort them out at an early stage. However, it can be really tiring in summers as all the effort can make you feel nauseated.

Spray Nozzles and PVC

You can create these watering equipments by utilising your crafting skills. Combine your sprinkler heads with an above ground sprinkler system and PVC and attach them above the hose. When you turn on the water, the spray nozzles will disperse the water in every direction soaking the leaves along with the soil.

You can change the size of the nozzles according to your requirements and control the water transfer rate.

There is one problem; when leaves stay wet for a long time period, they can cultivate fungi and other diseases. PVC needs to be obscured in the soil and exposure to wind and sun will make it fragile over time.

However, if you get good quality equipments you can make it last for a considerable amount of time. It gives you the benefit of custom watering, plus, it requires less effort but you will need to turn it on and off, just like soaker hose.

The water supplying can be done quite evenly with the help of spray nozzles and PVC, but its use and installation can be a bit tricky. You need to have proper information regarding the tools to make it a better system.

Sprinklers

You must have seen this gardening equipment in a lot of gardens. This is an automatic water supplying equipment that is distinguished on the basis of the sprinkler nozzle heads. Nozzle heads are fixed at the ending of the sprinklers.

The water transfers from the sprinklers to the gardens through these nozzles.

There are four types of nozzles that are commonly available: impact rotors, large turf rotors, pop up sprinkler heads and gear driven motors.

Pop up sprinkler head is the one that is used commonly in residential sectors. Sprinklers can water small and large gardens, both. They are easy to use, all you need to do is turn on the sprinklers and it will water the garden itself.

However, it is better if you know all about the nozzle you are using for your square foot gardens. There is one problem though; the sprinklers can wet the leaves as well. If that water does not dry in time it can cause various diseases. Other than that, it is one of the most efficient and prolific watering tool.

Automated Drip Irrigation System

The automated drip irrigation system is also known as the tickle irrigation and micro irrigation. It supplies water directly to the soil.

This is done with the help of tubes, pipes or valves that are laid down on the surface of the soil and transfers water to the roots of the plants. Moreover, you can increase or reduce the quantity of the water in this system, which is not possible in majority of the other watering systems.

This system is automatic. All you need to do is turn on the main water supplying unit. This is the ideal method for watering square foot gardens; the only downside to this system is that you need to have proper knowledge of the equipments used for assembling the system.

Also, the initial purchase of the equipments and installation can be a bit expensive but it can be used long term, which makes the cost of the system worthwhile. Since the system is automatic, your visits to your garden will be reduced; therefore, you won’t be able to detect any diseases until it’s too late.

Herb Garden

Whether you garden ten acres in the country, or make do with a window box in the city centre, herbs ought to be at the top of your plant wish list. Not only are they useful in the kitchen, but they are often amongst the most decorative plants in the garden.

A herb garden should be designed with as much thought as any other part of your garden. The foliage and flowers of herbs are beautiful and varied, and will provide lots of interest and colour right through the year. Even their seed heads are attractive and look fabulous in the frosts.

If you have the space to plant a separate herb garden, arrange the herbs in regular shaped beds, edged in box with brick paths between. As the herbs grow, they will spill over the box, so that as you pass by your body will brush them and release the fabulous aromas.

Herbs are also extremely easy to grow. There are annual herbs, like coriander, that need to be grown each year from seed. But the vast majority are perennials, which will come up year after year, without much interference from you, and supply you with years of culinary pleasure.

The Must-Have Herbs

We all have our favourite herbs. In days gone by chives, parsley and mint were essential. Freshly chopped onto new potatoes, or mixed with white sauce and poured over young carrots, these three were to be found in any kitchen garden.

Chives are particularly easy to grow, because they come up year after year. Keep chopping them to prevent them setting seed, and you’ll extend their useful season.

Parsley needs to be sown from seed each year. If you have the space, a row of parsley is a marvellous luxury as it’s delicious by the handful in soups and stews.

Mint is the official accompaniment to roast lamb but is wonderful freshly chopped onto vegetables. It’s best grown in a container though, as its roots spread terribly, and it will soon take over a flower-bed if left unchecked.

Mediterranean Marvels

Encouraged by gurus like Elizabeth David to experiment a little, the list of essential herbs has now grown. Mediterranean herbs like oregano (also known as marjoram), thyme, sage and rosemary are all now common-place, but no less delicious for that.

Thyme is small and low growing and can easily be planted between pavers or bricks in a terrace. As you walk across the hard surface, your feet crush the leaves of the plant, releasing the delicious scent. Oregano can be grown in the bed or the pot. Just cut it back each autumn and you’ll be rewarded with wonderful fresh leaves in the spring.

Sage belongs to the family of salvias, most of which are grown for their beautiful flowers. Sage also has lovely violet blue flowers, and comes in several varieties of leaf colour too – gold, grey green and purple. Purple sage in particular is a beautiful plant and looks fabulous growing with the grey-leaved Nepeta (Cat mint).

Rosemary is quite easy to grow, although it likes to be in a sheltered spot in the garden. There’s an old saying that, if the rosemary bush grows well in a garden, the woman of the household wears the trousers – so perhaps the site has nothing to do with it!

Heavenly Herbs

Tarragon, fennel and dill are three herbs that no keen cook should be without. Dried varieties have nothing on the fresh tastes of these culinary essentials.

Fresh tarragon chopped into a chicken casserole, or roasted with a chicken is divine.

Fennel is a hardy perennial that grows to 1.5m (5ft) or more and has the most beautiful blue-green fine ferny leaves. It produces a beautiful yellow flower that changes in the autumn to produce a highly aromatic seedhead. You can use the fine leaves in fish and cheese dishes, or shred the thick stalks raw into salads. The seeds, which taste strongly of aniseed, can flavour soups or bread.

Dill is a beautiful feathery leaved annual, which is also marvellous with fish. If left to its own devices it will self-seed.

Don’t forget annuals like basil and coriander. Keep pots of basil near the kitchen door and use handfuls of it to make pasta sauces. Coriander is so versatile – curries, soups and Mediterranean dishes are all improved with the leaves of this lovely annual. Collect the seeds in the autumn, dry them and use them crushed in stews and casseroles.

Bay Watch

Bay trees look best in pots, either as standards or shaped into elegant cones. Place them in a sheltered, sunny or partially shady site and protect the stem from frost in winter. Clip the leaves for flavouring savoury stocks and sauces – use either fresh or dried.

Create an Indoor Garden

If you don’t have a garden, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a gardener. All you need is a sunny windowsill, a little imagination and a few items from around the house. You can even grow your own food!

Grow an avocado

When you’ve eaten an avocado, or even made a yummy guacamole dip, save the stone and you can watch it grow into a lovely houseplant. It’s really easy!

  • A ripe avocado
  • A 10cm wide plastic pot
  • Multipurpose compost
  • A clear plastic bag
  1. Soak the avocado stone in water for two days.
  2. Fill the plastic pot with compost and wet it thoroughly. Plant the stone with the fat end facing down and the top just sticking out of the compost.
  3. Put the pot in the plastic bag and tie it with a knot. Put it in a warm, dry place (an airing cupboard is ideal).
  4. 10 days to a month later, the stone will split. Put the pot on a sunny windowsill.

Tip: When the plant has got to about 15cm tall, cut 5cm off the top. Keep doing this occasionally to keep your plant bushy..

Make two plants from one!

Spider plants are easy to grow and in spring and summer the stems produce tiny ‘plantlets’ which are actually mini spider plants!A mature spider plant

  • A small pot (a yogurt pot with a hole in the bottom is fine)
  • Potting compost
  • A paper clip
  1. Fill your small pot with compost, wet it thoroughly and put the mini spider (still attached to the parent plant) on top of the soil.
  2. Open the paper clip out into a U shape, turn it upside down, push it into the soil to hold the plantlet’s runner in place.
  3. In 7-10 days the mini spider plant should have formed its own roots. Snip off the runner and hey presto – a new plant!

Grow your own food

Mustard and cress is great in salads and egg mayonnaise sandwiches. And it’s really easy to grow!

  • A washed yoghurt pot or small container
  • Kitchen paper
  • Cotton wool
  • Some mustard and cress seeds
  1. Scrunch up some kitchen roll and put this in the pot.
  2. Moisten the cotton wool, and put it on top of the kitchen roll, leaving about 2cm at the top.
  3. Sprinkle on the mustard and cress seeds and press them down lightly. Make sure the cotton wool is kept moist. About 7 days later your mustard and cress should appear.

Spring Gardening: With the Arrival of Spring Comes Garden Preparation

Regardless of geographical location, gardeners rejoice for the return of Spring. After the ground has thawed a bit, it is time to begin preparing garden plots. Before planting, it is important to follow a few precautionary steps.

Decide When To Begin Planting

  • Prior to planting anything in the garden, learn what the last frost date is by contacting the county’s agricultural extension office.
  • Based off this date, make a tentative time-line for the completion of early spring garden preparations, including cool-weather crop planting.

Prepare Garden Beds

  • Weeding perennial weeds such as chickweed and chicory is often one of the first chores in the garden. A helpful aide when weeding is to keep the soil slightly moist. This will allow roots to be pulled in one piece and with greater ease versus attempting to wrestle them out of hard, packed soil.
  • To lessen the number of times this chore is repeated in a season (and the amount of time taken away from more enjoyable gardening activities), some gardeners choose to lay black plastic or weed control fabric down prior to planting. This method effectively prevents sunlight and sufficient oxygen from reaching immature weeds, thus choking them out.
  • Mulching is another preferred method of non-chemical weed control. By adding around 2″ of mulch, not only are weeds choked out, but moisture is kept in. Mulch helps soil retain water and stay cool in even the sunniest of locations, but beware of when mulch is laid because mulch reduces soil temperature. Applying it too early will only lengthen the amount of time before anything can be safely planted.
  • After weeding garden bed(s), test the soil using a soil testing kit purchased from a local hardware store, or send a sample to a lab suggested by the county’s extension office. Learning the pH and mineral composition of soil is a major element for a thriving garden. The pH of soil is a measure of acidity or alkalinity, ranging between 0 and 14, where 7 is neutral, 0 is highly acidic, and 14 is highly alkaline (base).

Depending on plant material, pH, mineral levels, and organic material may be added increase or decrease to satisfy their needs. The most common amendments added to soil are lime (to reduce acidity), phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium. Other materials such as peat, manure, and vermiculite are also added to improve organic composition and drainage.

Prepare Garden Tools and Accessories

  • Sharpen all hand pruners, saws, shears, and lawn mower blades. Keeping a sharp pruner and saw ensures not only a good, clean cut for plants, but also protects personal safety as well. Most hand pruners have blades that can be sharpened at home using a whet stone. If this is uncomfortable to do, replacement blades are often inexpensive and worth the investment.
  • Take an inventory of the tomato cages and other plant supports that made it through last season. Early spring is often the best time to stock up on these items due to the fact that stores will have more varieties in stock. Supporting the heavy heads of flowers, such as peonies, promotes a healthier plant and keeping vegetable plants vertical reduces the chance of certain insects from reaching the developing fruit and buds.

Fruit Garden

There’s nothing more pleasurable than strolling out into your garden on a warm sunny morning and collecting a bowl of fresh raspberries for your breakfast. Picking your own fruit – and in particular berries – feels totally indulgent! Why not trying growing your own at home?

As well as the pleasures to be had from growing your own fruit, the methods of storing fruit are delicious. Jams and jellies, fruit pies, bottled fruits and chutneys, are fun to make and marvellous to eat. And nothing will make you feel more virtuous than a row of home-made produce on the larder shelf.

Sensational Soft Fruit

An absolute must for any new fruit garden is soft fruit. Raspberries, Redcurrants, Blackcurrants, White Currants, Gooseberries. This raspberry bush, Rubus idaeus ‘Glen Moy’, is a new early fruiting variety from Crocus. It has no spines, larger berries and good aphid resistance so it’s a perfect starter variety.

For all fruit growing, preparation and choice of position is key. All soft fruit needs to be planted in soil that has been dug and fertilised at least a month before planting. Choose a site that’s in full sun and avoid frost pockets.

Raspberries need supporting as they grow – either on wires stretched against trellises or walls, or better still against a post and wire system. This involves sinking two posts about 10 feet apart and stretching wires at roughly foot high intervals between the posts. As the canes grow, you tie the new shoots into the wires. This makes harvesting and pruning easier. They’ll need protecting from birds.

An Apple a Day

No fruit garden would be complete without fruiting trees. Apples, pears and plums are perhaps best known, but you can also grow damsons, crab-apples and cherries (although these, like the berries, will need netting to deter birds).

Fruit trees come in a variety of sizes – maidens, bushes, half-standards and standards. For most people, the maiden is the best buy. You can train it into a fan or espalier, or let it grow into a normal tree shape.

Apple trees are lovely in flower beds, or if you have the space, planted as an orchard. Remember to plant varieties that will cross-pollinate – trees that are different varieties, but which flower at roughly the same time. If space is really at a premium, it is possible to buy a ‘family tree’ – one on which two to four compatible varieties are grafted.

This apple, Malus domestica Ellisons Orange, is renowned for its frost resistance and delicious fruit. It has pure white, cup-shaped flowers in mid to late spring.

Tree Surgery

If you’re keen to grow pears, they’re best grown against a wall, which will give them some protection from winds and frosts. They need more sun than apples and are generally more temperamental. The classic way of growing pears is to train them as espaliers. Planted in this way they will give plenty of fruit and they look very pretty too.

Plums are much easier to grow – their only disadvantage is that they might grow too well and get very large. If space is at a premium, you can grow them as a fan shape against a warm sunny wall. This has other advantages too – you’ll be able to net the fruit from the birds more easily.

This Minarette Plum, Prunus domestica Victoria, produces a heavy crop of large, pale red fruit with golden-yellow flesh which can be used for cooking, canning, bottling or just eating fresh.

Fabulous Figs

Figs are one of the most exotic fruits you can grow. They are utterly delicious and to eat one fresh off the tree is an utter indulgence.

But they need careful planting. If their roots are left unrestricted, they will produce roots but no fruits. So plant them in a pot or in a pit lined with paving slabs and floored with old bricks. They are not frost hardy, so you will need to protect tender shoots and embryo fruits with a covering of straw or bracken.

They also need lots of water and may need netting in late summer to protect the harvest from the birds

Feeling Peachy?

If you are lucky enough to own a greenhouse or conservatory, there is no end to the fun you can have. Peaches can be trained against a south-facing wall. You can do the same with apricots, or you can grow them successfully in pots. Either way, if you grow them under glass, you’ll avoid the frosts and hopefully have a lovely crop of home grown goodies come the summer.

The Cream of the Crop

Strawberries are the ultimate luxury fruit. It’s best to grow them either on a bed of straw or through slits in black polythene, in order to stop the ripening fruits touching the soil. Their other major enemy are slugs, so you will need to place slug pellets (these can be organic) underneath the straw. Alternatively, grow strawberries in pots.

This seed-raised strawberry produces more and larger strawberries than any other seed strain – and what’s more they have a rich tangy sweet flavour.

Stylish Outdoor Living

A patio really is the ultimate ‘outdoor living room’. Providing the perfect transition from house to garden, it will increase your living space while adding value to your property. Use it for pottering or playing, it’s ideal for gardeners and non-gardeners alike. So how do you transform the most unpromising plot into an idyllic retreat?

Drawing board

Start with a blank sheet of paper and an open mind. Make a scale drawing of the available space. Next consider exactly what you want from your patio. If you have children consider a soft or non-slip flooring. If you’ll be relaxing in the afternoon sun you’ll need sufficient space for a recliner. If dining al-fresco is your thing you’ll need easy access to the kitchen. Also consider which, if any, services you’ll need such as electricity or water. Whatever your plans, it’s vital that you tailor the space to your requirements.

Location, location, location

Think carefully about site and aspect. If your garden faces south, a hard surface along the back of the house may be ideal, but don’t automatically assume your patio must be next to the house. A patio distanced from the house makes an impressive focal point and if you only get to enjoy your patio after work, position it in the evening sun. Also consider building an ‘L’-shaped patio to create a separate area, perfect for shelter from the sun’s rays, or a grown-up’s getaway!

Flawless floors

There’s a wealth of flooring options out there. Choose from decking, brick paving, slabs, gravel, galvanised aluminium, rubber… but don’t get too carried away. Keep it subtle and remember to choose materials which match or enhance your property, for example reclaimed bricks look great with period properties. Gravel is inexpensive but not comfortable to walk on so bear that in mind if you like going barefoot! Metals, whilst undoubtedly contemporary, can give off a brilliant glare, so position with care. Good old-fashioned paving slabs are hard to beat, particularly if jazzed up with stunning plants and containers.

Style selector

Whether minimalist Zen area or wisteria-clad pergola, your patio reflects your style, so make it uniquely yours. Lighting and heating can transform a drab outdoor area into a magical evening retreat. Go hi-tech with fibre optics or simply hang outdoor fairy lights in the trees. Specialist underfloor heating will max out your budget, but a patio heater or chiminea will also make your patio inviting throughout the year. Be selective with furniture and only choose items you know you’ll use. Wood furniture is more expensive than plastic but looks infinitely better.

Planting

Choosing plants suited to the plot is crucial, so don’t buy a beautiful Magnolia if you’re your patio is tiny. Think about plants which will add year-round interest and don’t forget herbs such as lavender and rosemary which will release wonderful heady wafts across a patio. Climbers like Lonicera or jasmine will soften the edges of a pergola and are good at disguising a plain fence or wall. Pots and containers lend themselves well to patios and look great with plants of varying height and colour.

Get it right and your patio will reward you for years to come. Enjoy your garden!

Creating a Lawn From Turf

Why turf? A new lawn by laying turf is simply the quickest way. It only takes a few weeks before your lawn looks like it’s been there for years – and can be used as if it had been. There is no need to make a special seed bed and soil preparation is easier.

You will need:

  • Spade or Fork
  • Manure or compost, grit, ground limestone as necessary
  • Soil-testing kit
  • General all-purpose fertiliser
  • Rake
  • Sand or topsoil
  • Turf
  • Plank
  • Half-moon spade or a sharp knife

Step 1: Preparation

  1. You can turf at almost any time of the year when weather conditions are good.
  2. Completely clear all rubbish, rubble, weeds and vegetation. Remove pieces of buried wood as these will produce toadstools when rotting down.

Step 2: Dig over

  1. Break up the soil by digging to at least 225mm (9in). Break up any compacted soil well if you suspect poor drainage.
  2. If the soil is poor add well rotted manure or compost. If the soil is heavy add lots of grit to improve soil structure and drainage.
  3. Test soil with a soil-testing kit. The ideal soil pH is between 5.5 and 6. If your soil is very acid (below pH 5) apply ground limestone at about 50g/metre squared (2oz/yard squared) to correct.
  4. Level the site, breaking up large lumps of soil and removing stones. Thoroughly firm the ground by walking slowly over the site on your heels. Lightly rake level.
  5. Top dress with a general all-purpose fertiliser. You’ll need about 50g/metre squared (2oz/yard squared). Lightly rake in.

Step 3: Order and lay turf

  1. Obtain turf from a reliable supplier – one that friends have used or, if not, see a sample before purchase. Inspect for quality of grass (too much coarse grass is not a good idea) and for absence of weeds.
  2. When the turf arrives, if weather conditions are not right for laying, open out in a shady spot and water regularly. The pieces of turf should not be left rolled up for more than 24 hours.
  3. Lay the turf across the area, starting at the end closest to the pile. Work along the nearest edge and lay in a brick pattern.
  4. Never stand on the bare soil – always stand on a plank on the turf already laid. Press the pieces of turf together as they are laid to reduce gaps.

Step 4: Trim to size

  1. If the pieces of turf do not fit together neatly because they have not been cut straight, don’t leave gaps, but make a clear overlap and cut along the top edge removing the surplus piece below.
  2. Trim the edges using a half-moon spade and plank.
  3. Work in a mixture of sand and topsoil along the cracks and brush over. Grass will soon root into these margins.

Step 5: Roll and mow

  1. A few days after laying, roll the new turf. If you have no lawn roller use a rotary mower tipped up so the blades don’t cut.
  2. After about a week, make a high cut, trimming no more than 1/3 off the grass blades. Thereafter lower the cut gradually but not less than 25mm (1in) for a hardwearing lawn.
  3. If there’s no rain, water well until the new lawn is established.

For more advice on lawns, see Lawn Maintenance.

Lawn Maintenance

Does your lawn have bare patches? Is the grass growth poor? Is it very susceptible to drought? Keeping your lawn in good condition is one of the best ways of making your garden look good.

You will need:

  • Lawn sprinkler
  • Balanced fertiliser
  • High nitrogen fertiliser
  • Garden fork
  • Rake
  • Coarse sand
  • Lawn mower
  • Edge trimmers

Step 1: Watering

  1. Watering is only necessary in dry, warm periods. After about a week without rain, grass starts to turn yellow, so water before the problem gets worse.
  2. Infrequent heavy watering is better than daily splashes. The minimum to apply is 9 litres per square metre (2 gallons per square yard).
  3. The simplest method is to use a lawn sprinkler – the oscillating type is best as there is little overlap between adjacent areas.

Step 2: Feeding

  1. Feeding encourages strong healthy growth and builds resistance to weeds, moss and drought. Use a distributor or spread by hand.
  2. In spring, apply a general balanced fertiliser. You could buy a proprietary type, or an organic equivalent, at the rate of about 50g/square metre (2oz/square yard).
  3. In summer, feed monthly with a high nitrogen fertiliser. Use a proprietary feed or a sulphate of ammonia at about 12.5 g/square metre (1/2oz/square yard).
  4. Dilute first and apply using a watering can to avoid scorching. Do not use after August.
  5. In autumn, apply a general balanced fertiliser or one higher in potash to ‘harden off’ the grass before winter.

Step 3: Aerating

  1. Poor aeration causes poor root growth, making the grass sparse and weak.
  2. Increase aeration by using an ordinary garden fork in autumn: insert vertically and push in as deeply as possible every 15cm (6in) across the whole lawn.
  3. If your problem is particularly bad, you may need to use a hollow tine fork which removes a core of soil and makes bigger holes.
  4. Holes left in your lawn following treatment can be filled with coarse sand brushed over the surface.

Step 4: Scarification

  1. Raking your lawn vigorously removes accumulated dead plant material (thatch) that prevents the penetration of rain and encourages plant diseases and makes the lawn feel ‘springy’ to walk over.
  2. Using a garden rake or a spring-tine rake, work on small areas at a time, raking vigorously.
  3. This is hard work, so take your time – the job does not have to be completed in one go. The accumulated material should be removed and placed in your compost heap.
  4. Scarification is best carried out in September as soon as the cooler temperatures reduce grass growth.

Step 5: Mowing

  1. The height of the cut is crucial to maintaining a healthy lawn. If your lawn is used regularly it should not be cut to less than 2.5cm (1in) each week. Lightly-used lawns can be cut to 1.2cm (1/2in) – up to twice a week if the grass is growing well.
  2. Mow when the grass is dry and try not to overlap the previous cut.
  3. Alternate cuts should be started in different directions to ensure the lawn is mown evenly. This prevents coarser grasses from becoming established.
  4. In hot weather, and whenever growth is slow such as in spring and autumn, increase the length of cut and the time between cuttings.
  5. Cuttings should usually be removed unless drought conditions prevail and you are prevented from watering.

Step 6: Trimming the edges

  1. Adding a mowing strip ensures your mower can reach right to the edges, but there will still be grass to trim. Trimming the edge of your lawn neatly can ‘set off’ your whole garden.
  2. Normal lawn shears can be used but a pair of long-handled edge trimmers makes the job easier.
  3. Trimming isn’t necessary after every cut – every 7 or 10 days is about right.