The lawn originated in Europe. It was a symbol of social standing, as if you had land without food growing on it you were likely to be wealthy. Nowadays a lawn is common place and there is expectation that it should be well manicured; failure to keep your lawn under control is likely to spark anger amongst neighbours. In Florida you can even be fined for letting your grass grow too long!
Image from We Heart It
With pressure to keep up appearances, it was the American real-estate market that brought the dream of green lawns to even the least green fingered homeowners – Gabrielle Solis take note!
Previously a green lawn wasn’t something you could achieve over night, it was a year round commitment, but the Americans have found the solution to the gardens’ equivalent to a bottle blonde. Homes in foreclosure with brown dormant lawns needed a quick-fix – to add some curb appeal – the solution was to paint the grass green and hey presto, instant curb appeal. The average size lawn can be painted for a couple of hundred dollars and lasts up to 90 days – long enough to sell a house!
With droughts and desert climates this is becoming a viable solution to keep water bills down and defuse complaints from Homeowners’ Associations. Natural blondes and green lawns used to be in their minority – and admired – nowadays it’s always best to look at the roots!
If you prefer the natural look, a green lawn should be seen as a long term investment. You would assume a lawn is the simplest plant to grow, after all nearly everyone with a garden has one, but perhaps not. A lawn is easy because it goes dormant and comes back to life when the weather permits – you can neglect it but it is difficult to kill it – but a year round green lawn is as rare as a natural blonde… they require maintenance!
Golfing greens and polo pitches don’t stay green on their own accord, dedicated staff – with degrees in sports turf – are employed to look after these green carpets. It’s not easy to keep turf green in the deserts of Southern California, heatwaves in the summer and down into the minuses in the winter, sometimes even the professionals cheat with a coat of paint…
Empire Polo Club, Indio, Southern California
If you want the ‘real deal’, lawns need to be fertilised, repaired, mowed, watered, aerated and top dressed. So here’s some ‘grass root’ thinking on how to keep your grass greener than the other side’s.
Aeration Soil gets compacted, especially when it’s used heavily, this damages the roots and affects drainage making the lawn less resilient to drought. Aeration helps air and water get into the soil and relives compaction. You can aerate your lawn yourself with a fork at any time of year, or if you have a large area to cover commercial equipment is available.
Fertiliser Fertilising isn’t straight forward and should be tailored to your soil type. Fertiliser adds nitrates to the ground, which if done badly can burn the soil causing brown patches, they key is to spread evenly and water within 2 hours to help the fertiliser sink into the soil.
Watering Using a rainwater gauge is essential to measure how much water your lawn has received. Watering over night is best but a 5am sprinkle 3 times a week is adequate. Watering should be avoided in the heat of the day as the grass can become scorched from prisms of water remaining on the grass as it evaporates.
Mowing Keep your grass slightly longer – around 3 inches – to protect the roots from the sun and increase your lawns tolerance to drought. Mowing schedules depend on the growth rate of the turf which will vary by season.
Top Dressing Adding quality soil and sand to the surface to improves the soil composition. To keep a top quality lawn top dressing should be done annually. Adding sand will increase drainage and improve the turfs resilience to drought.
Repairs If you have been galloping around your lawn on your polo pony or practising for pitch ‘n’ putt you are likely to have caused a few divots! If you repair the hole straight away by adding Loamy sand the grass will recover within 24 hours, wait 24 hours it the grass will take 7 days to recover.
If this all sounds like too much hard work either pray for more rain, hope one of the US turf painting company opens up a subsidiary in your local area, or post your job on RatedPeople.com We will put you in contact with up to 3 quality, local Gardeners who can help you with all your turfing needs and green you lawn up to something even the Princes would be proud to play on!