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 Lawns and Lawn Care 1
Laying a new lawn

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Lawns and lawn care

Q. Can I lay turf on top of my old turf as I am just raising the garden up a little. Q. Because of this we haven't got a lawn. Now we are planning to cut down all the trees up to ground level. Do we need to take the roots as well?
Q. Can you suggest a dog proof alternative to turf? Q. I have had a new lawn laid. The grass is now getting quite long what can I do about mowing it. When , how often and how deep a cut?
Q. We had a home constructed last fall and now dealing with WEEDY and rocky yard. Q. Do you have any thoughts and tips on how to go about digging up the existing lawn to enable me to relay this.
Q. Am I better levelling the current lawn and turfing over or killing the grass, levelling and turfing. Q. When is the best time to cut a slightly overgrown lawn in November.
Q. I laid a new turf lawn approximately 2 weeks ago. The grass seems to have taken well but the ground has become very lumpy. Q. Tough tropical grass substitute?
Q. Can I sow grass seed straight onto peat? Q.  I am looking for a very tough resilient plant that I can use in place of grass.

Q. Can I lay turf on top of my old turf as I am just raising the garden up a little.

A. Possibly but I wouldn't risk it. The old turf would rot away by turf-rotting fungi which could then well attack the new turf. Also the new turf wouldn't be properly rooted into soil, but onto dying turf and could well struggle and die itself for this reason.

You need to rotavate and remove the old turf, or weed kill it and then remove the remains before levelling the soil - possibly adding more topsoil - and then relaying the new turf.

With turf at several hundred pounds for even an average garden with a lot of work too, I wouldn't even think about risking it.


Q. I have two lawns in my back garden about 50ftx50ft each which are in poor condition due to my German shepherd dog pounding up and down them.  I am thinking of replacing them:  one with astro turf and one with glass chippings.  Do you know where I can buy these products and/or do you have any ideas for other replacing the grass?

A. I can't really help you with Astroturf, it's not really a gardening thing, more sports and recreation grounds, so try that in the yellow pages or a search engine.
 
Glass chippings sounds very expensive over such a large area, gravel will be considerably cheaper. It comes as 10mm or 20mm pieces from a builders merchant, but I'm not sure what would be the most comfortable on your dogs feet!

You don't say what else (if anything) the area is used for. You could make it into a part paved / part gravel area as a combination of utility and aesthetics. That will be more expensive than just gravel but  cheaper than glass chippings.

 

Q. We had a home constructed last fall and now dealing with a weedy and rocky yard. I did the best I could to get rid of weeds, but eventually gave up and seeded heavy amongst the weeds. Grass has now germinated (about 2 inches high).

When can I apply weedkiller without harming my new grass?

A. The usual guide is to not apply weedkiller for about 12 months after seeding, I would certainly wait until well into summer before doing so.

As your grass has germinated you can start mowing, this will have the effect of removing a lot of your weeds as they can't take constantly being cut back like grass can. If you haven't cut the grass at all yet, put the mower on the highest setting for the first 3 or 4 cuts before lowering it. A little and often will work best, for the grass and also for helping get rid of the weeds.

Also, give your lawn a high nitrogen lawn feed so that the grass can start to fight back and help to crowd the weeds out in their weakened state.


Q. I have a front lawn approx 20m2, it is very uneven and weedy and I wish to level it to suit surrounding drive and paths. Am I better levelling the current lawn and turfing over or killing the grass, levelling and turfing. There are no other plant within the area yet as all were removed at the end of last season, ready to start a fresh this year.

A.  You can't beat a clean start, clear the area, level and re-turf. Anything else, you will be forever tinkering around here and there with a second rate result.


Q. I laid a new turf lawn approximately 2 weeks ago. We made sure the ground was level and free from any stones or weeds etc. The grass seems to have taken well but the ground has become very lumpy. Is there anything I can do about this? Should I use a roller and if so under what conditions.

A. A lot of what has happened is probably just due to the fact that when the turf roots meet the soil they partly penetrate and partly push upwards, so you get a slightly floating turf effect for a while. This will settle down though can be helped, not so much with a roller as with a lawnmower with a roller (they're not as heavy!).

In addition to this you may have some areas settling differentially to others (or even some grass areas growing faster than others and giving an effect of lumpiness). I'd leave well alone for a while before trying anything drastic, if after a couple of months, there is still lumpiness, then try the following question down.


Q. Can I sow grass seed straight onto peat? My 40 tons of soil was not mixed with my 40 tons of peat as planned and I now have a good deep planting area of soil and a large shallow lawn area of peat. The expense and delay of getting this spread out added to the expense and delay of buying and delivering it in the first place precludes me from digging it up again and mixing it. Would a shallow dressing of soil be necessary (or indeed a satisfactory solution at all)?

A. Not sure I understand the situation. You could sow seed into peat and it would probably germinate, but then would suffer from lack of nutrients and attract moss - being peat and so acidic. You need to mix the peat with the soil whether it be what you have brought in or what is already there. The easiest way (if possible) is to get a large rotavator and use it to mix the two.

It may be a major effort to mix the peat, but in the long run - decades? is certainly worth the extra.


Q.   We have a massive garden with around 12 conifer trees. Because of this we haven't got a lawn. Now we are planning to cut down all the trees down to ground level. Do we need to take the roots as well? The tree cutter suggests to leave the roots as they may rot. After cutting down the tress if I make lawn using seeds will it grow well. Or will it cause any problems? I have no idea about these things. Please provide me more ideas about the cutting trees, making a lawn after that.

A.  Are you saying you want to lawn over the area where the conifers were? If so you definitely need to remove as much of the roots as possible. As they rot, they will sink giving you and uneven lawn, they will also provide the food for many years worth of fungi that will happily pop-up all over your lawn until the roots are completely gone. As it is this is likely to happen as you'll never remove all the roots and you're bound to get some fungi growing anyway, it's a question of the more you dig up, the less the sinking and the less fungi.


Q. I have had a new lawn laid. The grass is now getting quite long what can I do about mowing it. When , how often and how deep a cut?

A. Leave it at least a month, 6 weeks if possible after laying before mowing it. Set the mower on the highest setting for the first couple of times. Don't mow it as closely as you would like until next spring - and then only by the 2nd cut (question received in October, normally, the required mowing length can be set at the 3rd cut).


Q. I have a large patch of lawn damaged by my boys playing football in wet weather. I am going to put down some astro turf in one corner to keep them off it. I am taking up some turf - circa 12m sq in a different part of the garden. Do you have any thoughts and tips on how to go about digging up the existing lawn to enable me to relay this.

A. If you don't have access to a turf stripping machine, and I presume you don't, then dig it up, chuck it away and buy new for the new area. You could try re-using it, but you'll probably end up just putting in a lot of effort to make a big mess.

Tool hire centres often have machines that will strip, but not ones that are good enough to give you something you can lay again. Those tend to be tractor attachments that I've only ever seen at turf farms. Depends how energetic you're feeling, the strippers tool hire firms do save a lot of time and effort, but it's a bit like stripping wallpaper as to what you get from them.


Q. In the summer we laid a new lawn. I have not cut it since August and want to cut it now. When is the best time to cut a slightly overgrown lawn in November. Not when it is wet I presume?

A.  When it's as dry as it's going to get, set the mower at maximum height (or near to) and avoid days when it's likely to be or has been frosty. I cut mine about a week ago, surprised I could cut it so late and don't now expect to do it again before next spring.


Q. On holiday in Thailand, I noticed that the hotel lawn wasn't really like grass at all but a sort of plant - wide dwarf leaves, no flowers as far as I could see and very tough to walk on. Is there an equivalent no-maintenance UK option that my kids could run around on?

A. The grass you saw was probably "Bermuda Grass" a tough tropical plant that is the best that can be managed outside of the temperate regions without a lot of care. It might appear to be tough, but isn't, it can't really take a lot of traffic. We had a similar grass in Mombasa, Kenya, when I lived there, it's also not very pleasant to touch and doesn't form the best play surface. Standard temperate grasses are far better here, they grow more quickly with less care, are softer and more pleasant to touch and rejuvenate better after cutting and wear.

If anything, people who live in the tropics would far rather be able to grow the temperate type grasses that we have here.

If you are looking for a hard-wearing grass, then select one with rye-grass, you will sacrifice fineness in the process and need to have a rotary mower to deal with the stalks that stick up persistently when you mow it, but it's the best bet in the long run.


Q. I am looking for a very tough resilient plant that I can use in place of grass. I would like it to be soft enough to sit on but tough enough to look good after it has been sat/walked on.

I have been looking at moss and heather as alternatives to grass. I'm not fussy as to how it looks, but I'd like it to completely cover the ground and as I said be tough. I saw some weeds in Thailand grown in place of grass that looked promising.

A. Er, well the only thing that fits the bill is grass - that's why it's used. Other things are used in the tropics as they can't grow our tough/soft/resilient/quick-growing grass there in that climate - and the alternatives they use aren't as tough.

Moss is too fragile and can't take much wear.

The best bet is a tough resilient grass seed, you can also get "meadow turf" that is basically turf with tough weeds already in it. There are also plastic sheet products that can be laid to add resilience to areas that are driven on for instance, or you could even let concrete bricks into the ground that have spaces to fill with soil and grow grass in.

 


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