Watering Grass and Lawn Feed Fertilizers
Watering Grass Lawns
If the lawn is not watered regularly during prolonged dry spells it loses vigour, allowing tougher grasses and weeds to take over. Symptoms of water shortage include loss of springiness in the grass and fading of colour from lush green to a rather greyish green. Severe water shortage results in yellowing of the grass. However, grass is surprisingly resilient and usually recovers once water is applied.
Use a sprinkler, preferably an oscillating one, to obtain maximum coverage. Soak the grass well at weekly intervals in hot, sunny weather — though wait until late afternoon or evening otherwise the water will evaporate as fast as you apply it. If theis sandy, water every four or five days.
The equivalent of about 2.5cm (1in) of rainfall is needed at each watering. Gauge this roughly by positioning a straight-sided can underneath the spray. Note the tap setting and then find the time taken to fill the bottom 2.5cm (1in) of the can. Use the same tap setting and time for all future grass watering sessions. Droughts may bring a ban on grass watering. Stop mowing to prevent serious damage to the lawn.
If the lawn has been neglected —while you are away on holiday, for instance — and looks parched with a dry, cracked surface, it is best to prick the surface all over with a garden fork or aerator before applying water.
Lawn Feed / Lawn Fertilizer
The application of lawn feed in the form of a fertilizer to a lawn does not merely make the grass grow faster — something which few people would want — but encourages more compact and bright green growth which is better able to compete with weeds and coarser grasses. With constant mowing, the grass needs a regular supply of nutrients throughout the growing season if the lawn is to remain in the peak of health.
Even distribution of lawn fertilizers is important, so that the grass is not scorched and regular growth is obtained over the whole surface. Mix powdered fertilizer with four to eight times its weight of sand before spreading it on the lawn. Divide the mixture and apply half up and down the lawn and the other half working across the lawn from side to side.
Granular lawn feed fertilizer is much easier to spread. A wheeled mechanical spreader will spread it at the correct rate. If spread by hand, use pegs and string, or garden canes, to mark out the site into 1 sq m/yd sectors. Compound lawn fertilizers are available under many brand names — follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application method and rate.
Water in solid fertilizers with a garden sprinkler to avoid any risk of scorching the grass and to feed the roots as quickly as possible.
Apply liquid lawn fertilizers with a large watering can, using a rose or dribble-bar attachment. Avoid overlapping and double application, which may scorch the grass.
Do not use nitrogenous lawn fertilizers after late summer. Autumn feeding will be necessary only if the lawn has suffered compaction or drought. Use a lawn feed high in phosphates (but low in nitrogen) to redevelop a strong root system. A suitable mixture is 3kg (7lb) of sterilized bonemeal and 1.4kg (3lb) of sulphate of potash, applied at two tablespoons per sq m/yd.
Spiking and Top-Dressing
Spiking the lawn in early autumn is essential on heavy soils whereis poor. It is also necessary where soils have been compacted by heavy use and wear. Spiking also assists root growth.
On small areas and lighter soils use a garden fork. Push it in at 7.5-10cm (3-4in) intervals and 7.5-10cm (3-4in) deep. Use a straight, in-and-out action with the fork — do not pull back on the handle as this will make a ridge.
Specially designed spikers are made which have interchangeable tines. They are easier to use than a garden fork and give better aeration on all types of soils. The solid tines can be replaced by hollow ones, which remove a core of soil. These are best on heavy ground. Sweep up the cores after spiking and brush a sandy top-dressing into the holes.
In autumn, after aerating the lawn, apply a light top-dressing to it. This will smooth out slight surface irregularities and, used annually, will form a layer of moisture-retaining material.
An ideal dressing can be formed of alternate layers of 15cm (6in) thick loamy soil and 10cm (4in) thick well-rotted manure left to stand for a year or more, after which it should be sieved. Mix sand with it for heavy clay soils, but leave it as it is for light sandy soils. Apply the dressing at about half a bucketful per sq m/yd. Do not exceed this rate of application.