Neglected Garden – Lawn Care and Garden Landscaping

maintaining a neglected garden

One indication that all is not well with the soil in your garden is the state of the lawn. And it is very obvious to anyone that a neglected lawn creates an impression of a neglected garden.

Lawns need fresh air below, near the roots. The only way you can get it there is to go all over the surface, plunging a digging fork in and rocking it a little to open up the holes made by the tines. Alternatively, you can use a spiker, there are several examples on the market, specially designed for the job. If you have reason to believe that the soil below the lawn is not well drained, an indication of this is the tendency for water to hang about, scatter coarse sand over the spiked area and brush the surface with a hard broom so that the sand filters down into the holes. This will help aerate the soil below. Moss is usually a sign that the soil is either poor or badly drained — or both. It can also be caused by cutting the grass too closely too often.

Moss can be killed by one of the special compounds designed for the task. Mere raking too often spreads the spores and leads to more trouble. You can make your own moss killer by applying sulphate of iron at a rate of about oz. per sq. yd. As this is such a small quantity it will be easier to mix the sulphate of iron with sand and spread this over the mossy places.

Very rough grass is better scythed at first, either by hand with an old fashioned scythe or with a motor-scythe. If it is not really a very large patch get down on your knees, and cut it with the shears or an old-fashioned sickle and stick. You need not get it very short to begin with. Rake all mowings away and use them for mulching or compost.

I really can assure you that the more you cut rough grass the better it becomes.

While I personally deplore an over tidy garden, I believe that constantly trimmed lawn edges make a lawn look well groomed. Often an old lawn has ragged edges. These can be righted without a great deal of trouble. Take a garden line, or, alternatively, use the edge of a board and trim first with an edge cutter or a spade, cutting right through the turf. After this, keep the fringe of new grass which constantly grows trimmed with the edging shears and avoid cutting into the soil or your lawn will become smaller and your borders wider. You will not need a line after the first trim.

If the edges of the lawn are ragged or worn away in some places and you do not wish to cut the edge to make the lawn smaller, you can smarten them by neatly removing a turf from the ragged portion and then turning it so that the good straight outside now becomes the edge. The ragged piece, now inwards, can be patched by filling it with a mixture of good sifted soil and grass seed. Mix some ready for patching using a large bucket of good fine soil and a pound of good grass seed.

A very small patch might be better used as a mere root-hold for some striking plant to grow on the house or the dividing wall or fence, some plant to boast of, an unusual climber, a wonderful rose or a passion flower. This could be balanced by another plant of architectural beauty in a pot, a yucca perhaps or some fascinating example of bonsai, which today are more easily found and cheaper than they used to be.

Too often a tiny garden is divided into four by little cross paths which usually have the effect of making the garden and the house look even smaller than they are. Try converting the garden by making a path from corner to corner instead. You will find this much easier to maintain. If you like to experiment a little further and if you have the room, make this a diagonal curve, a lazy S, and you will find it even more attractive. You can lessen your work by making one side of the path a place where trees and shrubs grow and the other side a site for more temporary plants, perhaps flowers in the foreground and vegetables at the back.

A rectangular lawn surrounded by rectangular strips makes for formal and consequently demanding gardening. Change the lawn shape to an oval or a circle. The beds will then vary in depth. Shrubs can be planted in the wider areas for permanent display. Perennials can be grown in the narrower sections but you can also use these for block plantings according to season. This way only part of the border will need annual attention.

If you begin with a grassed area and intend cutting borders into this, bamboos stuck in the ground will help you “draw” the plans. Some gardeners use the hose laid out on the ground to define a shape. Before you cut in the grass, take the mower along the outline and see that it takes the curves easily and alter the outline where necessary. Remember that while wavy edged borders look lovely they must not be so scalloped that they are fussy or difficult to maintain.

Paths should be serviceable and safe as well as decorative and by altering the present paths you may be able to give the garden a new look.

Choosing the right plants can make a great deal of difference to the scene. If you have a long, narrow garden, try planting round cushiony plants rather than tall spiky ones or clip any suitable existing ones into shape.

27. September 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Gardening Ideas, Neglected Gardens | Tags: | Comments Off on Neglected Garden – Lawn Care and Garden Landscaping


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