A lush green front lawn is the best way to add curb appeal to your house. Not only this, it is also a relaxing sight that takes away the worries and stresses of every homeowner. While front lawns are ideal places for children to play and coffee mornings, lawns at the back of the house are perfect alfresco dining sites. Unless privacy is an issue, a lawn is also the best place to exercise or meditate. Walking barefoot on a lawn to begin your day is said to have a positive effect on your physical and mental well being.
However, growing a lawn is not an easy task. Lawns can easily get out of hand if not regularly maintained and looked after. Watering, fertilizing, mowing and weed removal are the four most important aspects of growing a lawn. You could do this yourself or get a lawn maintenance service to do this for you. Before you reach maintenance though, you must prepare your ground to be a lawn area and plant the right type of grass. Here is an introduction to planting and growing a lawn in your compound.
In most cases, the area you want to grow a lawn in will already have something growing in it. The first step therefore, is to remove old grass. Cut the existing grass down as close to grade as possible. Heavily watering the area before you move on will make it easier to work with. Use a manual or power edger to make 2” deep cuts in the turf at regular 2 foot intervals. A grape hoe can then be used to remove the old turf in sections. Two people working together make this an easier task. If you have a large area, you may want to consider hiring a power sod cutter to get your work done faster. Additionally using a herbicide over the area will kill all leftover root systems. Once the ground is dry; till the leftover dead turf into your soil.
Grading a lawn area determines the slope, drainage and soil composition. A lawn should ideally be sloped away from the house towards a drainage area. The ideal slope of a lawn reduces its height by 2” every ten feet. To fix grade problems, first remove the top soil. While a rake may be enough for smaller areas, you may need to hire earth moving equipment for larger areas. Take away sub soil from higher areas and use this to fill in lower areas. Follow this by spreading two inches of top soil over the sub soil. Till this into the top 2” of sub soil before adding the rest of the top soil.
This garden and lawn decoration has been done by São Paulo, Brazil-based Gil Fialho Paisagismo.
Once the soil is graded, it then needs to be made fertile and a type suited to growing lawn grass. While the soil’s texture cannot be changed, its structure can be amended to an extent. Organic waste is the best way to amend soil. As this decomposes, it releases precious nutrients into the soil. Along with making the soil fertile this also breaks apart tightly packed particles in clayey soil to improve drainage while it attaches itself to sandy soil thereby slowing drainage and helping the soil stay moist for longer.
To amend soil, spread an even layer of compost and mix it into the soil below by hand or with the help of a rototiller.
After leaving the soil alone for a few days, till the soil again. Remove any stones and vegetative matter that may be brought to the surface. Use a hose to water the garden and look out for puddles. Wait until the soil is dry to fill these spots with more soil and level the ground. Then run a rake over the ground to aerate the soil again. Repeat this step after another day or two. This is an important step to follow as it determines the depth a seed will be planted at. If the soil is loose, the seed may be planted too deep and die before it can germinate.
A lawn can be planted in four different ways: Sod, Seed, Sprigs, and Plugs. A sod appears as a carpet of short lawn grass with soil beneath it. Lightly water the soil before unrolling the sod and lying it over the prepared soil. Sod can be easily cut to fit angles and curves. Keep all joints as snug as possible when laying one sheet of sod next to another.
Growing a lawn from seeds takes much longer. Spread the seeds evenly over the ground with an average coverage of 15-20 seeds per square inch. Rake the soil slightly to then mix the seeds with the top soil.
Sprigs are individual blades of grass with a rooting system. These can be planted by hand or broadcast. Plant sprigs in shallow furrows at an interval of 4-6”. When planting sprigs it is essential that atleast 1/4th of the sprig is exposed to light.
Plugs can be bought at a nursery to made from existing lawns. Plus should be planted in furrows at an interval of 6-12” depending on the type of grass.
Insufficient watering or over watering are the main reasons for a lawn not to grow well. For at least three weeks after planting new grass, do not allow people to walk over the area. New lawns should not be fertilized for atleast six weeks after which half a pound of nitrogen fertilizer should be spread over every 1000 square feet. Sod, plugs and sprigs needs to be watered twice a day without allowing the roots to rot. After about two weeks, this frequency can be brought down. Lawns growing from seeds need double this amount of watering. Set sprinklers to water the lawn four times a day until the seedlings grow to a height of 2”. Once your lawn starts growing vigorously, you can start mowing the lawn to maintain an even height.
To add more creativity read: Create your very own tropical style garden.