Q. We had a new lawn (about 1000 sq.m) laid in November, from turf containing 25% Smooth stalked meadow grass, 25% Chewings fescue, 20% Slender creeping red fescue, 20% Strong creeping red fescue and 10% Browntop bent. This is a mix for fine ornamental lawns. The problem is that some of the grasses (the meadow grass?) are relatively coarse and long-leaved, with short seed heads that tend to lie close to the ground. The cylinder mower merely rolls the long grass down so that it's not cut. A wheeled rotary mower tackles some of the stalks, but short of getting down on my knees with scissors, I don't know what to do. Is there a cylinder mower with a rotating brush immediately in front of the cutter, so that it raises up the grass to meet the blades?
A. It can be a problem to keep the flower stalks down. The usual way is by a regular mowing regime, if you mow the grass every 3 days through the summer, this should be enough to deal with any potential problems before the stalks can get long enough. If you have them at the moment, it's probably because you've not been mowing so often in the cool months?
Is there a brush or device of any kind? No, not that I've ever heard of. Maybe a strimmer could deal with the problem in the short term if there's a lot of them, but the regular mowing should overcome the stalks in the longer term.
Q. Three months ago, we laid 1500 square feet of sod (turf) on a terraced area around a mountain cabin. We installed an automatic watering system that runs morning and evening for 15 minutes so the grass immediately took hold and looks beautiful. Unfortunately, our large draft mule got over the electric fence surrounding the lawn and now there is a huge hoof print on approximately every square foot of the area. Some of the depressions are 3 or 4 inches deep because the soil was so moist and the animal weighs 1400 pounds. Is there any hope of repairing the damage before the ground freezes this fall?
A. You have no idea how foreign that all sounds by comparison to my home here in rural Cambridgeshire!
Anyhow the answer is pretty straightforward if a pain in the butt (hey - I can speak American!) to implement. Mix a load of 50:50 sharp sand and peat or fine compost together in a wheelbarrow - you'll need more than you think! Then use it to fill the ruts. The grass will eventually (pretty quickly) grow back over the ruts. The extra compost and sand will help drainage which sounds like it could do with a help. Don't know when winter arrives where you are, but it may not properly repair until the spring when the grass starts to actively grow again.
Q. My husband is a house painter. His assistant placed some windows with glass panes on a client's turf for about 1.5 hours. It was a cloudy day, even so, the sun burned the grass. No paint was spilled on the grass, however, there was damage from the heat and moisture where the windows were. We will be paying a professional, actually their turf specialist, to inspect and advise what to do. Since this was not a chemical burn I am wondering what the standard advise on this sort of thing might be. I believe it is a type of Kentucky Bluegrass. If you have any advise, it would be appreciated.
A. Difficult to answer directly without seeing the extent of the damage. Grass in general is tough old stuff and can survive all sorts of abuse, more likely than not, it will recover without much effort.
Depending on the extent of the damage, the next stage might be to cut out and replace the damaged area with turves (sod) if similar is available locally.
People do tend to flap about their turf for some reason, but it really does recover from all kinds of abuse pretty quickly. As for the cost of paying someone to go and survey it, next time (if there is a next time) I'd suggest hire you own guy and get him to take some turf (sod) with him as the cost is probably not much more than you'd pay someone to just take a look anyhow.
Q. I am now the proud owner of a garden for the first time, my soil is heavy clay and my question is how do I sort out my bumpy lawn? It is very uneven, apart from that the lawn is in a fairly good condition.
A. This is a relatively straightforward if long-winded problem to deal with. It also depends on how large or small the humps and hollows are, if they are major undulations over several feet, there's not really much you can do other than dig up the turf, level it all out and start again.
Assuming that you are not going to go to these lengths, each bump or hollow should be dealt with individually. The basic technique is one of cutting a cross with the centre being the middle of the hump or hollow, use a spade or lawn edger. The turf is then peeled back, you will probably need to slide - with some vigour as your soil is clay! - the spade underneath the turf to separate it from the soil to do this. You now have four triangles of turf peeled back exposing a square of soil, either remove soil from, or add it to this area to level it, peel the turf back, firm it down and water it.
Small hollows can be dealt with by adding a light sprinkling of sifted soil or potting compost onto the surface of the grass. The grass should be actively growing when you do this, don't add any more than 1/4 - 1/2" at a time. It can be repeated, but only when the area has gone completely green again and the grass re-established.
Don't be tempted to get a heavy roller, all this does it compress and compact the soil, it also rolls up the hills and down the dales without really levelling out the whole area.
Q. I have a lawn that is extremely lumpy and hard I have tried rolling. I've even used a tiller and turned it over but each time the grass gross back it gets really lumpy. The dirt seems to be like clay. A friend has offer to level my yard out with his utility tractor but I'm not sure. Maybe I should have a few truck loads of good top soil brought in to lay over the existing soil or mix it in? I'm wondering if that will make a difference or not. I mean as far as softening up the soil a little and then reseeding the whole area the yard is approx. 3/4 of an acre. If I reseed do I need to kill everything before turning the soil over. Help please I have a feeling this is going to be costly.
A. As you say it sounds like it's going to be costly and so the best advice I can give you is to get in a local lawn or grounds expert to take a look at it and then tell you what he thinks you should do. With that kind of job, particularly as you've already tried to sort it once I'd really need to see it in reality and not at the end of an email. My guess is that you need to prepare the surface more thoroughly than maybe you did previously, but get someone on the spot to advise how and to what degree to do this.
Q. I had some new turf laid down a few months ago. It went a little brown when I mowed the lawn. I bought some grass repair which included some fertiliser and now there are big patches where the grass has gone brown and even in places totally disappeared (I think the fertiliser burned the new turf ?) I was wondering if you could advise what the best thing to do is.
A. It's difficult to tell without seeing the area directly. I think it is unlikely that it would be the fertiliser - assuming you followed the instructions. The only way a fertiliser would have such a dramatic effect is if you directly applied a soluble fertiliser, i.e. as a solid without diluting, or applied the correct type in greatly increased and patchy quantities (hmm.... maybe not so unlikely?)
Do you have a dog? Female dogs can cause die-back in the way you suggest - they do big wees all in one place unlike males who spread it around a bit more.
Try lifting the turf where it has died and looking underneath, any clues? I've dug a few cement bags up from dead turf patches in the past and a colleague once retrieved a whole functional wheelbarrow!
My guess is that there's some other cause that you need to determine before re-seeding or re-turfing the patches.
Q. We have a female Golden Retriever killing our grass. We have brown dead spots where she urinates on our newly sodded (turfed) lawn. Is there anything we can use to neutralize the urine on these spots so the grass doesn't die? She tends to go in the same location. We have tried to teach her to go on the bark in the surrounding beds, but this may just lead to problems with the ground covers etc which we planted there. We are looking for a solution. What options do we have? We love the yard and the dog. We have a small village lot, not a lot of options for space. (i.e.: No room for a separate dog run).
A. This is a fairly common problem with female dogs of large breeds. Bitches tend to deposit all of their urine in one place, hence the die-back of the grass. It's not such a problem with males as they spread it around a lot more and the smaller quantities in any one place are not usually a problem.
There is no simple solution and water is the best way of neutralizing the urine. The real problem is being around when the dog urinates and seeing where she has done it, if you can do this, then keep a hose handy and spray the area, alternatively a bucket of water will do the same job.
Long term, you could try keeping an area as the "dog toilet", say put bark chips down and try to train your dog to use that area, though this is not as easy with dogs as with cats who take to a specific toilet area better.
This tends to be a summer problem as in the winter, the soil and grass are already wet (though I don't what your climate is like), so the urine is more diluted. You can repair damaged areas by replacing the top layer of soil, 1-2" and re-seeding or replace with new turf.
Q. I have some grass seed to put on my lawn which is a bit bare and would like advice on preparation and maintenance whilst it grows.
A. It's always a difficult one when the grass is a "bit bare", it's difficult to thicken up and improve what's already there, often being easier to start again from scratch.
There are two steps to take, first of all improve conditions for the existing grass, it's not thin and sparse for nothing, and then add to it. If you don't address underlying problems, then it will revert to how it was beforehand, so you may need to aerate with a hollow-tine aerator or fork, apply a top-dressing, remove thatch, feed, remove weeds etc.
Adding grass seed while retaining existing grass is a bit hit and miss and dependent largely on what the weather is like after seeding. Rake the surface with an ordinary garden rake to loosen the soil, preferably not disturbing existing grass too much, then sow the seed on top, rake again to cover as much of it as you can and water it.
Keep off it completely until it begins to sprout, watering where necessary, when it starts to show through don't mow it as the rest of the lawn until it has thickened up. This is a good time to apply a general lawn feed which will also encourage the existing grass.
It's a bit of a hit and miss process, and you may need to repeat it more than once, but you should get there with patience.
Q. How to remove patches of rye grass in newly-laid turf lawn? (Mainly ryegrass free).
A. It's not going to be easy as it sounds like the rye grass was in the turf when it arrived. Finer grasses respond better to feeding and cope better with regular close mowing. So give your lawn monthly feeds through the summer and mow two or three times a week from May to September at 1/4" to 3/8".
This regime will eventually eradicate the rye grasses. An easier solution is to put up with the rye grass and get a rotary mower to cut down the resulting stalks.
It depends on the uses your lawn will get, rye grass is tough and resistant to wear and tear, finer delicate grasses aren't but look far better.
A. Feed and weed, overseed if appropriate (if the patches are more than 6" across), aerate with a hollow tine aerator and sweep 50:50 peat and sand into the holes, collect and remove mowings, rake to remove thatch in the autumn and apply an autumn feed. Mow little and often, twice a week preferably, certainly go no more than a week between mowings.
Q. I am really bored with cutting the grass all the time. Can you please tell me if there is some sort of artificial lawn system out there somewhere which looks good enough for a back garden and is practical. I know it sounds terrible but I am not the keenest gardener in the world and I've adopted a large garden which I want to enjoy, not slave over.
A. You and half the rest of the country I think! As far as artificial lawns - there are more coming onto the market now, most are best laid by professionals as there's rather more to it than just laying down some carpet-like stuff.
You don't say how large your garden is, but you could replace some or part of the lawn with a patio, gravel area, shrub borders / beds so at least the area to cut regularly would be reduced. You could just cut a small part regularly allowing the rest to become a "wildflower meadow" area cut only once or twice a year. You could buy (excuse me if this seems a bit obvious) a bigger lawnmower that goes around the lawn a lot quicker.
A. Should you worry? - no. Grass seed can be fairly slow to germinate even at warm times of the year. The only problem with sowing so late in the year is that there's longer for the birds to get at it before it starts to grow, but it's more likely to be ok than not.
Q. I laid a new lawn from turf last year and although it took well at first it has torn up in patches by the dog racing around while it was still establishing itself. The dog is now banned from the lawn but I am unsure if I will be able to repair the damage without having to start all over again - HELP!!!.
A. You could get some turf and cut and fit it to the shapes that are missing, though this is often difficult as it's very awkward to buy small amounts of turf.
I don't know what area you have, but I'd guess that grass seed would be the easiest way to repair the lawn. Fill in any cavities / divits with topsoil and seed into this in March / April. It will take time, but by midsummer, you should a decent looking if not entirely finished lawn.
Garden Supplies Online
| Design |
Buy plants online |
Garden buildings |
Copyright © Paul Ward 2000 - 2013