Expert Lawn Care Tips

Expert Lawn Care Tips

Soil Preparation. Ground should be dug at least one spit deep and may be enriched with animal manure or compost in moderate quantity if believed to be poor. Bonemeal may also be applied, but lime should not be used unless ground is really acid. It tends to produce growth of clover and the coarser grasses at the expense of fine grass. Drainage must be improved if ground tends to lie waterlogged in the winter. It is a great advantage to leave ground fallow for a month or so prior to sowing so that weed seeds may germinate and the weed seedlings be destroyed by hoeing before the grass is sown. Break the surface down as finely as possible with fork and rake prior to sowing or turfing. Either tread or roll to secure even firmness throughout. A fairly firm seed bed is essential.

Sowing, This can be done in April or September. Seed is sown broadcast at 1-2 oz. per square yard, and is either raked in or covered with a light sprinkling of soil. If seeds are properly covered, no further protection from birds is necessary; small birds do not scratch but simply pick up the seeds from the surface. Proprietary dressings can be obtained to make seeds unpalatable for birds and ready dressed seed is also available. Do not sow when ground is very dry or wet; it should be slightly moist.

The finest lawns are formed from certain species of agrostis and festuca, particularly New Zealand Brown Top (Agrostis tenuis) and Chewing’s fescue (Festuca rubra fallax). A drawback to these is that they germinate slowly and take a considerable time to give a good cover to the ground. In consequence, unless the lawn site has been well fallowed to get rid of weeds, there is a danger that these will get the upper hand. Perennial rye grass grows quickly at the outset and smothers weeds well but tends to die out after a few years of close mowing. A mixture of several fine grasses but without rye grass is best for most purposes. The wood meadowgrass (Poa nemoralis) may be used in shady places.

Aftercare of Seedling Lawns. Seedling grass should be cut for the first time when 3 in. high. Cut with a sharp scythe or a sharp mower, with blades set high at first but gradually lowered at each subsequent cutting. Roll lightly before the first cutting, but never use the roller when the surface of the ground is very wet.

Turfing. Turves may be laid at any time from October to April, when the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Turves are cut in two sizes, 3 ft. by 1 ft. (supplied rolled up), and 1 ft. square (supplied flat). The latter make a more even lawn, but are usually more expensive and take longer to lay. Plantains, dandelions, etc., should first be cut out with a knife. Lay lengthwise in straight rows but stagger joints in alternate rows like bricks in a wall. Bed turves evenly and beat them down gently with the back of a spade or a wooden turf beater. Scatter fine soil lightly on the surface and brush into crevices with a stiff besom.

Never lay small portions of turf at the edge of a lawn either when making new lawns or repairing old ones. If pieces are required to complete a row, lay a whole turf on the edge and use the pieces inside. When repairing worn patches, first remove a rectangle of old turf to the thickness of new turf, then rake bottom level and lay turves in the ordinary way.

Cultural Routine. Established lawns, whether formed from seed or turf, require the same treatment. Mow regularly throughout the year, but at less frequent intervals during autumn and winter than in spring and summer and with blades set higher. Very close mowing and heavy rolling are undesirable except for lawns used for sport. For ordinary purposes, set the cutting edge about in. off the ground. Use the roller only when the surface is moist, not when sodden or quite dry. Lawns which get heavy wear may be aerated each autumn by pricking all over with a fork, special perforating tool or spiked roller. Brush in sharp sand or flint grit to improve drainage.

In spring and early summer give occasional top dressings of peat or leaf-mould mixed with equal parts of well-decayed manure and loam, all passed through a 1/4-in. mesh sieve. No top dressing must exceed i in. in depth. Lawn fertilizer is best used in April or May. Weeds can be killed either by watering with selective lawn weed-killer or by dusting with lawn sand. Both treatments are most effective in spring or when growth is strong.

Moss on lawns can be dragged out with a springttoothed rake or killed with calomel. The growth of moss is usually an indication of bad drainage or poor soil, which should be rectified.

Cumberland Turf, This is obtained from coastal regions and is actually washed by sea water at high tide. It is exceptionally fine and valued for bowling greens, etc., but is not recommended for lawns generally as it is difficult to maintain in inland gardens. An early spring application of agricultural salt, 9 oz. per square yard, is beneficial, otherwise treatment is as for ordinary lawns.

Calculations When Constructing Garden Pools

Estimating Concrete for Pools

A rough but reasonably accurate method of calculating quantities of gravel, sand, and cement required for preparing base concrete consisting of 3 parts of gravel, 1 part of sand, and I part of cement is to provide enough gravel to supply the whole required bulk and then add the sand and cement as extras. Their bulk will be lost in mixing and the shrinkage that takes place as the concrete dries. This method will not serve for finishing concrete made up of equal parts of small gravel, sand, and cement. In this case add together the bulk of all three ingredients, reckoning cement at 18 cubic feet per ton, and subtract one-third of the total for shrinkage.

The bulk of fully dried concrete required for a rectangular pool is obtained as follows: Multiply the length by the breadth and this by the thickness of the concrete. This gives the volume of concrete for the bottom. Add twice the length to twice the width, multiply the figure so obtained by the depth and the result by the thickness of the concrete. This gives the volume of concrete for the sides. Add the sum of the two calculations together to obtain the total volume of concrete.

For a circular pool the volume of concrete for the bottom is obtained by measuring from the centre to the side and multiplying this by itself. Multiply the result by 3 1/7 and this, in turn, by the thickness of the concrete. The volume of concrete for the sides is obtained by doubling the measurement from the centre of the pool to the edge, multiplying this by 3 1/7 the result by the thickness of the concrete, and then by the depth. The sum of the two calculations is added together as before.

The simplest way of dealing with an irregular pool is to measure out a circle or rectangle which approximately covers it and calculate the volume of concrete for the bottom on this basis. The length of the sides can be measured with string.

Do not forget that all measurements must be made in the same units — yards, feet, metres or whatever is suitable.

Estimating Volume of Water. The approximate volume of water in a rectangular pool or tank is obtained by multiplying together the length, breadth, and depth, all in feet, and then multiplying the result by a. This gives the volume in gallons. For a circular pool or tank the measurement from the centre to the side (in feet) is multiplied by itself, and the result is multiplied by The figure so obtained is multiplied by the depth (in feet), this giving the volume in cubic feet. To obtain the volume in gallons multiply by 6 ¼ as before. If the volume is required in litres make all measurements in metres and multiply the result (cubic metres) by 1000.

Estimating Fish for Aquarium or Pool. There are two methods of calculating the maximum number of fish that can be accommodated in an aquarium. Method 1 is to allow an inch of body length, excluding tail, per gallon of water. Method 2 is to allow 4 inches of body length per square foot of surface area. This latter system usually results in a considerably lower estimate and is the safer for general purposes. Example: a pool is 6 feet long by 3 feet wide by 1 foot deep. It contains 112 gallons of water and has a surface area of 18 square feet. By method 1 fish with a total body length of 112 inches can be accommodated, or, say, eighteen 6-inch By method 2 there would be room for only 72 inches of body length or twelve 6-inch fish.

Water Features In The Garden

Water Features In The Garden

A natural water supply in the garden is an asset with which few are blessed. With a stream that meanders through the garden, orjust a spring, it is possible to make a really delightful

water garden; but failing a natural supply, the water can still be introduced artificially.

Water in the garden layout is used in one of two ways. It can be treated quite formally, as in a pool or canal, with fountains if desired, or it can be allowed to follow more natural lines, as streams in the wild garden, or cascades in the rock garden. Where room permits, these streams can be widened out into informal pools here and there.

Let us consider first water in the garden in formal surroundings. Our garden is divided into separate parts each having its interest, and it is possible to link water in some form with any of these. In the rose garden, for instance, the central feature could be a circular pool with a simple fountain playing into it. On the terrace a rectangular pool would be more suitable; and even more interest can be given to the herbaceous walk by the introduction of a pool as a terminal feature or at a point where paths cross. In such a position various designs are possible, determined by the space available and personal taste—rectangular, circular, a combination of the two, or octagonal. Rectangular pools on the whole look best in a formal setting, but if you have a pool set in the lawn near the house, then a winding shape is pleasant.

Formal treatments of this kind should be kept near the house and away from overshadowing trees, although a certain amount of reflection in the surface of the water adds to their charm. It is in the autumn when the leaves are falling that trouble arises. If they are allowed to fall into the water and left to rot, they turn the water stagnant and dirty. Nearby planting should be in keeping with the formal outline of this part of the garden. Bedding plants arc particularly suitable near formaf water, and conifers or clipped trees in preference to the ornamental types. In the spring, beds of daffodil,, hyacinths, or tulips would make a bright display to be followed in the summer by antirrhinums, asters, salvias, or zinnias.

It has already been mentioned that fountains can be used in connection with the formal pool, but where space is limited it is sometimes possible to introduce a wall fountain as the main feature, the pool at its feet to catch the water being only of secondary importance. For instance, where a flight of steps ascends towards a bare brick wall, the otherwise uninteresting face can have a gargoyle spouting water, or a ledge holding a figure from which water descends, or a simple stone vase from which water tumbles. Behind the wall a small pump could be fitted to circulate the water over and over again. A similar wall fountain can be introduced on terraces, but here it is usual to have a formal pool at the base of the wall.

For fountains of all types there are various designs of pumps on the market, simple to install and that could be run at a very low cost. Electricity is the usual means of power.

For informal pools we are able to utilize our natural streams, but failing them, water introduced artificially can be made into a delightful water garden. It is important that the informal pool should be away from the house and in surroundings that are in no way formal. The two should never be combined. A garden where there are considerable numbers of trees and shrubs makes an ideal setting for a water garden of this type, especially where it is possible to plant the banks and surrounding areas. Undulating ground, too, lends itself to this informal treatment.

It does not follow that water must always be used in conjunction with rock work. A stream, whether natural or artificial, lends itself to the construction of a fascinating water and wild garden. As in rock gardens, it is essential to copy nature as much as possible. Let a stream wander at will; avoid hard, straight lines and formal planting of any kind. Let your imagination play.

Lawn Repairs

Lawn Repairs

Before considering the small lawn repairs that constantly crop up on all kinds of lawns, let me say a word here concerning the reclamation of a lawn from old meadow grass, or an old neglected lawn. I have known many gardens that were made on old pasture land, where the owners have desired to economize both time and money in the making of the lawn, and to use the grass at once, and be spared the cost of either seed or turf.

If such be your desire, then the first thing that you must do is to rake off all the old, brown grass, if such is present, or to mow down the tall new grass if you happen to take over the garden in late summer when the site has become a hayfield. Large stones and other rubbish will come off with the rake, and the surface left will probably be bare, brown, and only roughly level.

If there is no rain, water this well, and wait a week or two for the grass to begin growing again. The big weeds will come along first, probably, and these you can cut out and treat with a spot of lawn sand as already described. Meanwhile, prepare a few barrowloads of fine sifted soil, mixed with sifted ash if you like, and as convenient, distribute this over the grass, filling up slight hollows and so making the surface of the lawn gradually moist and more level. Use the roller between showers, and use the mower after rolling has made this possible.

Gradually, a yard width at a time, tackle the weed problem seriously, spot treating the larger weeds, and using lawn sand over the whole area. Also tackle gradually the problem of the lawn surface, repairing bare patches and filling hollows, lowering hillocks, replacing very coarse lumpy tufts of grass by fresh pieces of turf from elsewhere in the garden or by re-sowing the patch with grass seed.

This gradual method will, in time, give you a good lawn in place of your meadow, but though you spare yourself the weeks of bare disturbed soil that are associated with sowing or turfing, you do not really save much labour in the end. However, it can be done.

The re-sowing of bare patches is a repair that becomes necessary on every lawn at some time. Where lawns are in constant use for games, the common practice is to keep a reserve patch of turf from which pieces can be lifted when needed, to replace old worn-out patches. This is not a practical proposition in many gardens, and re-sowing is an alternative. Bare patches may result from wear, and also from the destruction of weeds, but if they are the result of chemical applications, the patch should not be re-sown until the effect of the chemicals has had time to be washed away.


To re-sow a worn patch, first lightly fork the surface 2 or 3 in. of soil, press it down again, sow the seed, allowing two or more ounces to the square yard, and rake lightly over the patch. Protect the seed from birds, and keep the sown patch watered if the weather is not showery.

If the edge of a lawn meets a gravel path or flower border, and a 2-in. ditch exists (to allow for trimming the lawn edge) a few careless steps from lawn to path may cause a ragged edge. The most satisfactory way to repair this is to take out a square of turf, including the ragged portion, turn it round so that the ragged edge is inside, and replace it. The bare piece can then be re-sown. And the repair will soon be unnoticeable.

New lawns are very liable to sink unevenly during the first summer, unless care and skill went to their making. To repair an indentation in the lawn surface, take out a square of turf, add some finely sifted soil, sufficient to restore the level, and then replace

the turf and roll well. In the same way, should a hillock exist on a lawn, take off the surface turf, remove a layer of soil, replace the turf, and roll well. Remember to water such patches well for a time afterwards, so that the turf settles back firmly into place.

Purposely, I have said little about grass mixtures, beyond a reference to coarse and fine grasses. The best plan for a small garden owner is to ask advice from the seedsman. There are speeial mixtures for various purposes. The finest mixture of all is sold only for use on bowling greens and where a similar perfection of lawn is required. (Bowling green construction is a matter for expert advice.)

All lawn seeds sold are mixtures, and in some there is a good proportion of rather coarse grass. This is cheaper and makes a serviceable lawn for children’s play. Then there are mixtures that contain an extra large proportion of annual grass, and these are usually sold for town gardens, where grass does not live well through the winter. But if you tell the seedsman the kind of soil you have. And the kind of lawn you want and how you intend to use it, he will give you the most suitable mixture for your purposes.

I do not propose to describe lawn tools here. I would just remind you that good tools make for good and easy work, and that good tools are worth taking care of when you have bought them. A lawn of more than a quarter of an acre is worth a motor mower of sorts, and a lawn of less than that size is worth the best hand mower you can afford to buy. And, finally, the best tool you can afford, or even the worst old second-hand tool, will work better if it is kept clean and oiled and not left out in all weathers.

Lawn Weed Control

Lawn Weed Control

The treatment of weeds on lawns is a matter of judgement in more ways than one. We can, however. Roughly divide the weeds into two different types.

First there are the large, tap-rooted weeds, such as docks, dandelions and the broad-leaved plantain. It is not much use to pull off the tops, or destroy the leaves of these weeds if they are well established in an old lawn. The old method of digging each out separately has much to commend it, but if a pocket knife or a weed grubber is used there will nearly always be a small portion of the root left in the ground, and this will inevitably grow again and replace the old weed with a new one.

The best way to treat large tap-rooted weeds is to drop into the heart of each a spot of lawn sand. This can be mixed at home, but again I should prefer to buy it ready mixed for use on the small lawn. Good lawn sand contains probably seven parts of sulphate of ammonia, three parts calcined sulphate of iron, and as much sand as both chemicals together. Equal parts of sulphate of ammonia and sand will make a nearly as good a substitute.


The other chief type of troublesome weed is the kind with broad spreading leaves over the soil surface, or with a matted, creeping habit, so that the foliage and stems both spread out through and over the grass. Clovers, trefoil, speedwell, buttercup, daisies, yarrow, chickweed, pearlwort, plantain, self-heal and ribwort, with several kinds of moss are of this type. These weeds can be eradicated by surface applications of lawn sand made up of three parts sulphate of ammonia, one part calcined sulphate of iron and twenty parts sand. One application may not be sufficient, and it is important for success that the applications should be during dry weather, as rain following immediately will render the application useless as a weed destroyer. For a weedkiller of this kind to be effective, it must be scattered thinly over the leaf surfaces of the weed. It will do little harm to the vertical grass blades.

Even if the grass leaves are a little damaged, and a blackened appearance follows, the grass will quickly recover, and be all the better for the extra plant food that the weedkiller contains, whereas the weeds will take longer to recover, and so will be crowded out by the grass. A very weedy patch may take some time before it becomes reasonably weed free.

Fertilizing And Feeding The Lawn

Fertilizing And Feeding The Lawn

If the natural soil of the garden is sandy, or if chalk is very near the surface and the layer of fertile soil is very thin and not very fertile, it is wise to add plenty of humus to it when the lawn site is prepared. Any kind of decaying vegetable or animal matter is useful.

On a garden where the soil is of day, I should always use lime when preparing the site. Lime eases the gardener’s labours by helping to break up hard sticky lumps of soil. It actually causes the fine soil particles, of which the clay is formed, to cling together in tiny groups, and this gives them the loose shifting quality of sand.

Another reason for the use of lime on heavy soil is that it discourages worms, and worms can be objectionable if they are present in too large numbers under the grass.


But apart from these general measures which the gardener will take during the process of soil preparation, what fertilizers will be needed? And when should they be used? The answers to these questions are linked up with the question of existing soil. On light, congenial soil, where a fine grass mixture can be used, I should adopt the method of treating the soil only with sulphate of ammonia—no lime and no general fertilizers.

There should be no need for fertilizing at seed-sowing time, but as soon as the grass is well established and the mower can be used in comfort, the treatment with sulphate of ammonia can begin. As the sulphate is very liable to burn tender young grass, unless the weather is very showery and the applieation made very carefully, the gardener will be wise not to begin too early. A regular dose, once in three weeks, allowing only from 4 oz. to 4 oz. of the sulphate to the square yard, is useful. To allow for even distribution, mix the sulphate with sand or fine soil before spreading it on the lawn, brush it well in between the blades of grass, and then immediately water it in unless the weather is showery. This treatment results in a very fine, thick turf, provided, of course, that the best grass seed is used for sowing.

On heavy stiff soil, where lime is used during preparation, I should use a rather coarser grass mixture and should feed the young grass with some prepared lawn fertilizer (sold by all garden centres). The proprietary mixtures are not very much more costly than home-mixed fertilizers, and they have the advantage of thorough mixing, which is very difficult to achieve in the home. If you prefer to do your own mixing, you can use sulphate of ammonia and superphosphate of lime in the proportion of one to three as a spring fertilizer, at the rate of 2 oz. to the square yard. In the autumn, if you do not dislike clover, you can use 1 oz. to the square yard of basic slag.

Clover is not objectionable on some lawns, and it has one big advantage over grass, that it keeps green in dry spells for a longer time. Clover does, however, make an uneven lawn, i.e., greener in the clover patches than elsewhere, and it is not liked by tennis players because it soils the balls. Basic slag encourages clover because it is a phosphatic fertilizer, and clover is a plant that needs phosphates and does not need nitrates. Sulphate of ammonia in small frequent doses through the growing season discourages clover, as it feeds the grass and allows it to oust the clover from the lawn.

At the beginning of winter, a lawn generally requires a little extra attention, and it can then be fed with guano, or old decayed manure, mixed with fine soil and brushed well into the grass.

The First Mowing

The First Mowing

After the first use of the roller, wait two days and then set a sharp mower so that the blades are liked 2 in. from the ground, and just skim off the tiny tips of the grass. This first cut is another ticklish operation, for which the right moment must be chosen. If the roller or mower seem to be injuring the grass in any way, wait for a more favourable opportunity.

The first cutting should be followed by a second according to the growth of the grass, and gradually the blades of the mower can be lowered to normal.

Probably long before the grass seed appears, and certainly before it has been rolled and cut many times, weeds will appear. This is inevitable. The first task on the lawn may therefore be to pull out, by hand, every tiny weed that can be seen. To do this you have to walk over the lawn, and it is advisable to use a plank to take the tread of your boots. Some lawn workers tie short planks to the soles of their shoes, but this, in actual practice, makes one’s feet so clumsy that I doubt its advantage. A movable plank is, however, useful in protecting the soft sod and the new grass.

To be sure you rid the lawn of weeds, mark it off in strips as you did when sowing, and weed one strip at a time. It is an exacting job, but if you do it at this stage you will never have so much trouble again.

From thence onwards, cut the lawn as often as you can—even in winter a lawn should be cut if it has grown—and roll it often, too. Do not ever roll when the soil is really sodden with rains : such rolling merely makes the surface cake hard and subsequently it will crack. Moreover, grass (again. Remember that it is a plant) needs air at the roots and hard rolling on wet soil prevents air from entering the soil. Avoid rolling, too, in frosty weather, when the blades of grass would be easily injured. Roll as often as you can in showery weather, or whenever there is moisture in the soil, but no waterlogging.

How To Lay Turf

How To Lay Turf

Turf is best laid during the winter months, but it can be laid at any time if due attention can be given later to watering. Turves are cut about 2 in. thick, and should be trimmed before use to an even thickness of 1 1/2 in. This is obtained by the use of a gauge box, which is a box 1 ft. square (or larger if the turves are larger) and 1 1/2 in. deep inside. The turf is laid upside down in the gauge box, and then trimmed off level. The prepared, rolled soil surface is disturbed very lightly, and the turf then laid by inverting the gauge box. Four corners are not allowed to meet, the turves being set brickwise, as this encourages it to bind better. After laying the turves, it is best to beat them well down with a turf mallet (or the spade), but the beating should not be too drastic, especially if the soil is inclined to be sticky.

It is a great help to newly laid turf if a barrowload or two of finely sifted soil is prepared and mixed with a little grass seed, the mixture being scattered over the turf and brushed well into the cracks. Watering, or rainfall, turns the turf quickly into a fine lawn that goes from strength to strength.

A lawn made from seed can be used fairly quickly if it is a lawn made for ordinary outdoor teas and deck-chairs sort of use, but it will be some time before the grass is strong enough to stand the wear and tear of games. The two best sowing months are September and April, but weather must serve as a guide. A lawn site prepared as already described, with the fertile soil redistributed over the levelled subsoil, needs alternate rolling and raking to bring it into the right condition. This rolling and raking can only be done when there is some moisture in the soil, but not enough to make the top layer sticky; so that it will be found impracticable to keep to any certain date in the calendar.

Sowing must take place on a day when the rake can be used with ease, and preferably on the day before warm showers are to fall—a chance for weather prophets!

To estimate the quantity of seed required for a rectangular lawn, measure it both ways, in yards, multiply the figures together, and divide by eight : this gives you the number of pounds of grass seed needed. Thus, if the lawn is 8 yds. By 10 yds., the amount of seed needed will be 10 lb.

If you try broadcast sowing without dividing the seed first, you will probably find that you have sown three-quarters of the supply on the first half of the lawn, so here is a good way to ensure even sowing. Begin by stretching a line down the lawn, 1 yd. From the edge, thus marking off a yard strip, say 1 yd. By 10 yds., if the lawn is the size mentioned above. Use ten ounces of seed, and sow it as evenly as you can along this strip. Now mark off a second yard strip, and sow a second ten ounces. Continue across the site in the same manner.

After you have finished this, take the line and this time stretch it widthways across the lawn, marking off a strip 1 yd. By 8 yds. Use 8 oz. of seed to this strip and sow again as evenly as you can. Then mark another 1 yd. By 8 yds., and so continue sowing in a direction at right angles to the first sowing. You will use up the remainder of the seed, and the result will be a much more even distribution of the seed than if you sowed it all at once.

Next take the rake, and with a light touch rake the fine soil surface, so that the seed is more or less covered : you cannot actually cover it entirely by raking, as you must not let the teeth penetrate deeply.

Pass a light roller over it at this stage, if you have one, and then dust a very little finely sifted soil over the surface to cover the seed completely. Protect the seed, if your lawn is not too large, by threading black cotton between twigs about 6 in. above the ground.

At some time, varying from ten days to three weeks, after sowing the lawn will quite suddenly take on a fine green film, and if the weather is warm and rains frequent, the grass will thenceforward grow very rapidly. If the seed is sown in September, the first rapid growth will soon cease, and it is probable that no cutting will be necessary until the spring.

Rolling is necessary, however, even on a newly sown lawn. Rolling is done for a definite purpose, and that is not, as many amateur gardeners seem to think, for the purpose of levelling the surface. That cannot be done by rolling, except where the lawn has been disturbed and must be reconsolidated. Rolling is done because it tillers” the grass; that is, by bending down the growing blades it makes several grow in place of one, and the grass becomes thicker.

Grass should not be rolled too heavily while it is young. Probably when it is about 2 in. high, or a little less, there will come a day that is dry and sunny, after showers. The roller will then pass over the new lawn without pulling up lumps of soil and grass roots, and without so hardly pressing down the young grass that it is sealed” into the wet soil.

Seed Or Turf To Start A Lawn

Seed Or Turf To Start A Lawn

As long as we have lawns, we shall have discussions between amateur gardeners as to whether seed or turf should be used for their construction. Those who spend their lives among lawns can give the best answer. If expense is no object, and you want a quick lawn, then lay turf, but use the best Cumberland turf. Lay it in the winter, if you can, or use plenty of water after it is laid.

But the better way of making a lawn, provided you have the patience to wait and do not expect quick results, is to sow seeds. You have first to wait for the ground to mature, and then to wait for the seed to germinate and grow to a thick carpet—say eighteen months altogether before you have a really first-class lawn. But then it will compare with the finest lawn from turf, and will have cost you far less.

If you don’t want to wait as long as that, then there are two other alternatives. The first, and best, is that you sow the lawn immediately you have prepared the site, without allowing a period for maturing, and by constant endeavour for the first six months you keep it weed free. Then you will have a usable, and perhaps almost as good a lawn as if you could wait the eighteen months. Or—and this is not what I advise as a rule—you can use second-rate turf, which may work out even cheaper than a lawn from seed, and will give you a lawn of sorts fit to use the first season. I don’t advise second-rate turf, because it never gets to quite the pitch of perfection that a lawn made from seed reaches. The turf is bound to contain weeds, and the quality of the grass is doubtful, so that results are not uniform, as they are with good grass seed. However, the question is one for each owner to decide after consideration of costs and needs.

Let us then outline the procedure for both types of lawn. It is not essential that so much care should be taken over the layer of fertile soil when turf is to be used, as the grass is already established and can be fed from above. But it is an advantage if the soil preparation is carried out thoroughly, as the even distribution of the fertile layer makes for evenness in the quality of the turf after it has been in use for a time.

How To Drain The Lawn

How To Drain The Lawn

While you level the site, you can also attend to the matter of drainage. And at this stage you must consider the nature of your soil. If the subsoil is of an open porous nature, you need not worry about drainage. On a sandy site, for instance, you are not likely to be troubled by waterlogging; the opposite is more likely to be the case, and you may need to dress the soil well with leaf-mould, old manure or other humus, to help it to retain moisture. But on a clay subsoil, water is very likely to collect during rainy spells, and if water collects it will almost certainly collect more in one place than another, and that one part of the lawn will become sour, the grass will fail, and the lawn will be unsatisfactory.

Take care therefore. If, when you leave a hole open during heavy rain, the water remains there for a day or two, you may know that special drains are needed. Very rarely indeed it may be necessary to put in agricultural drainpipes (which are special drainpipes that carry away surplus soil water). Usually it is enough to take out trenches at intervals of about 15 ft., making the trenches perhaps 15 in. deep, and half filling them with porous material before replacing the soil.

Where agricultural drains are necessary, they must be packed round with rough breeze, so that the holes do not get clogged. Such pipes must, of course, lead to a suitable sump or main drain.

A point to note here is that when a flat lawn is made from a sloping hillside, there is more danger of water collecting at the end of the lawn where excavation was made than at the other end, as this part receives the drainage from the hillside above. A trench across this end of the lawn is a wise precaution.

Having roughly levelled, and properly drained the subsoil, it is time to turn our attention to the top layer. Let us remind ourselves again that grass is a plant, and also that it is a dwarf plant. We cannot expect it to fight its way among large stones, and still present the soft even appearance we want from it. It is important that the surface layer of 2 or 3 in. should be fairly free from large

stones, and of even texture, fine and crumbly, capable of being rolled hard without caking into a solid cement-like pan. We also want it free of weeds.

The first thought of the amateur is to sift the top soil. This is not necessary, in fact it is rarely advisable, for the reason that the transition from fine surface soil to lumpy or stony subsoil should be gradual. If the soil is put down in definite layers, there is a tendency for it not to bind well, but to remain in layers that crack easily under the influence of dry spells, frost, etc. So the best method is to distribute the soil as evenly as possible over the site, removing any large, tap-rooted weeds at the same time. Then, if you can, leave it for a time, rough as it is, to weather.

Soil prepared in late spring, and left through the summer without sowing is in ideal condition for surface preparation when the first September rains come. It has generally grown a crop of seedling weeds by that time, and these can be hoed, raked or forked, so that they do not endanger the young grass. Alternatively, a site prepared roughly in September would be ideal for seed sowing in March or April. This also would have weeds present (weeds grow in all weathers !) but they are very easily destroyed before the lawn is made, and to allow a crop of weeds to germinate while the soil lies bare is one good way to rid the soil of many weed seeds that would certainly germinate later if left.