This week from Norfolk School of Gardening - Lawn Care

This week from Norfolk School of Gardening - Lawn Care

Expert advice on lawn care from Ruth at Norfolk School of Gardening.

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As we move into summer many people are spending a lot of time on their lawns. We have been talking to Sean Coyne at Apeiron Lawn Care, who teaches our lawn care courses. He has some great advice for everyone out there who has a lawn and who wants it to look its best at this time of year.

Have you ever wondered why verges retain a lush green appearance during this season while your lawn becomes distinctly brown? Understanding the reasons for this will help you maintain a healthy lawn that can not only cope with the stress of summer heat and drought and maintain an optimum appearance for longer but also reduce the use of potentially harmful chemicals and the use of irrigation. So the benefit is potentially to both you and the environment.

First, it is important to understand that most of the food that grass requires to thrive is stored in the leaf blade, giving the grass its green colour and enabling growth. So, if you cut it very short you remove the food store. By leaving the length of grass on your lawn a little longer it will maintain that store and a greener appearance for longer. It will also help the grass to crowd out weeds, increase resistance to pests and diseases and to retain moisture. Retaining moisture will reduce the necessity to irrigate although you may still need to do some watering if the summer is really dry. However, following these measures will help to minimise the quantity of water required, helping to conserve our most valuable natural resource.

Secondly, the soil in the verge is likely to have a more balanced eco system containing healthy fungi, microbes and bacteria. This will help to lock in healthy nutrients in the soil and to optimise the soil structure promoting strong growth. A balanced eco system creates an environment in which the root system of grass can spread more easily, enabling a greater uptake in nutrients and water, all of which increases the resilience of grass in the heat of summer.

Unfortunately, constant use of chemical treatments to improve the appearance of domestic lawns, compaction of the soil through heavy use and severe cutting may well have disrupted that eco system, producing a vicious circle of decline in the lawn’s appearance which then requires more and more chemicals and invasive procedures to maintain what is a superficially and temporarily healthy appearance.

So, Sean suggests we should treat the cause and not the symptoms of problems in our lawns. The long-term benefits of this approach will be not to only to the environment through a reduction in the application of man-made chemicals and lots of watering, but also to our pockets, through a reduction in the number and frequency of applications required. This all starts with creating the right environment in which the grass can thrive and naturally increase its resilience. There are now effective organic products available which will help to create the right eco system. A reputable lawn care company such as Apeiron Lawn Care will be able to advise you, and you can come on our next Lawn Care & Maintenance course to learn more.

Top tips for short term results while you plan a longer-term organic treatment programme:

• Apply an organic lawn fertiliser (this will provide nutrients)
• Mow regularly (at least once a week) on a higher than normal setting
• Water if really necessary (early in the morning or late at night to reduce evaporation).

These measures will encourage the grass to push out side shoots and this in turn will thicken up the lawn, crowd out weeds and improve retention of both nutrients and moisture so that the grass really can be greener on your side of the fence.

Courses with availability in the next month:

Smartphone-ography 8th June (tips for taking great photos on your smartphone and posting them on social media)
Introduction to Garden Design 20th June (for 6 Thursdays)
Happy Houseplants 29th June (includes a macramé plant holder workshop)

Plant of the Week

Iris sibirica

Iris sibirica

This rhizomatous perennial grows in any good garden soil, but especially moist soil. The violet-blue flowers are produced in May until early summer on slender, upright stems surrounded by narrow leaves. As an extra bonus the dark seed heads add interest from late summer through winter.

The plant takes its name from the Greek word for rainbow, which is also the name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow. Iris was the messenger of the gods who escorted souls along her iridescent rainbow bridge to the next life. There are suggestions that the name reflects the wide range of colours found in Iris flowers

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