Lawns

Lush green and a well-maintained lawn is most soothing site in a garden. For healthy and dense growth, a lawn should get good amount of direct sunlight. Shadow cast by trees with its large, dense canopy or a tall building near the lawn could harm the lawn. The roots of the large trees also can compete with lawn; thus near the roots of the tree, the lawn will grow patchy and sparse.

Preparing the Site : To prepare the bed for the lawn, the ground should be dug out at least up to 15 c.m. depth. If the existing soil is of not of good quality, then it is better to replace it with good fertile soil. For good drainage it is better to put about 3 c.m. thick layer of brickbats or coarse gravely soil at the bottom. Over this give a layer of soil and farmyard manure, thoroughly mixed, in proportion of 3 parts soil and 2 parts farmyard manure. All stones larger than 2 c.m. should be removed from this mixture. This layer should be about 6 c.m. thick. The uppermost layer for lawn surface should be made up by mixing thoroughly, equals parts of soil and farmyard manure. Stones larger than ½ c.m. from the soil should be removed before mixing.

Using a rake levels the soil surface. By raking not only leveling is done, but, large stones, if left in the soil, can be removed. Large stones left near the soil surface are capable of damaging the lawn mower blades. After this, drench the site thoroughly with water. This will help the soil-manure settle well, without leaving large air pockets. When the soil surface turns drier the site is compressed by using a light lawn roller. If the soil is very wet, then it will stick to the roller. Unless rolling is done, the soil starts settling down unevenly, thus spoiling the lawn level.

Lawn Grass Planting : It is advisable to water the bed regularly for a few days before the lawn is actually planted. In this period the weeds start sprouting. The weeds should be removed regularly. After the site is comparatively weed-free, tufts of lawn grass can be planted. At the time of planting, the soil should be moist. Clumps of lawn grass should be planted at about 5 c.m. distance. If this is done, a perfect lawn can be prepared in 30 to 40 days. Planting with tufts of grasses is always preferable and cheaper than to sowing lawn grass seeds. In India most lawns are made by planting tufts only.

Types of Lawn Grasses : Cynodon grass commonly called as Doob grass or Durva is very sturdy. This grass prefers a very sunny location. It is quite drought resistant. Bermuda grass, a fine-leaf variety of Cynodon has shorter inter-nodes. Shorter inter-nodes make it look more dense and carpet-like. Paspalum grass has wide leaf blades. For semi-shady locations Paspalum will be a better choice. This grass also needs less maintenance, but looks little coarse compared to Cynodon varieties. Zoysia, commonly called as carpet grass or jumping grass has a tendency of forming lumpy growth. This makes it unsuitable for the lawns which are often used as sit outs. Though, due to the lumpy growth, the lawn has its own beauty, It is one of the difficult ones to maintain. If mowed regularly the lumps are not formed and in that case its asset of the lumpy growth is lost. Mowing after the lumps are formed is almost impossible. At this time only lawn shears can be used. Though this carpet grass feels soft to a bare foot, a freshly mowed Zoysia is capable of poking. Compared to other grasses, Zoysia spreads slower. In certain cases this is an advantage. Unlike Cynodon and Paspalum, this grass won’t easily creep in to flowerbeds surrounding the lawn.

Watering : Roots of lawn grasses do not grow very deep; most of the roots are within 10 to 15 c.m. depth of the soil cover only. That is why thorough drenching of the lawn in not needed. In fact light sprinkling of water more often is a better method of watering the lawns. Watering of the lawn should be done only after the top surface of the lawn seems to be turning dry. In a sandy and well-drained soil and also in raised lawns watering should be done more frequently. If watering is done in such a manner that the soil surface remains excessively moist, then green, slippery moss starts growing on the soil surface. This condition will certainly make the lawn grow sparse. For watering of lawns lawn sprinklers are available. Alternately, a hose fitted with a rose also may be used. Lawns can be watered any time of the day. However, it is better to water them in the morning, as in the evenings normally one likes to relax on the lawn.

Mowing : Mowing of the lawn should be done very regularly; preferably, ones a week. Allowing the lawn to grow tall and then cutting it very low may save the labour. If cut low, the brownish-yellow patches of lower leaf blades come in to view. This makes the lawn look unattractive. So never cut the lawns low. Mow them so that the carpet-like look is imparted. Small patches of lawns can be cut by lawn shears. For uniform look bigger lawns must be mowed with lawn mowers.

Lawn mowers are of two types. Wheel type and roller type. Wheel lawn mowers are cheaper and lighter compared to a roller type of the same size. However, wheel type mowers tend to get stuck in wet soil. This causes problems in monsoon. Advantage of using a roller type mower is that, it does not get stuck in wet soil and gives more uniform cuts. As the lawn is being mowed, a roller mower also levels some minor unevenness of the soil surface. All lawn mowers have a grass box attached. This box collects grass clippings. Now a days engine driven and electric mowers too are available. In north India, in certain places, a type of sword is used to cut lawns. The long sword is swung, striking the grass. Sharp edges of the sword shears the grass. With this method uniform cutting is not possible. This way the clippings are scattered over a wide area. So cleaning the lawn with a broom becomes necessary. In remote places, where repairs and maintenance of the mowers becomes difficult and expensive; and where the labour is cheap, this method of sword slashing of large lawns is much faster than using a lawn shears.

Aftercare : Do not trample lawns. Pathways in lawns can be made with stepping-stones, alternatively with bricks or tiles. As the grass grows, it tends to form very thick mats of roots just below the soil surface. This prevents aeration of roots and water from percolating deep enough. As the surface soil dries quick, the grasses get starved of water. If the root mats are carefully examined, one will notice that they are devoid of any soil or manure. In such a case the lawn grasses tend to compete with each other and start loosing the vigour and gradually turn brownish. To rectify this condition “spiking” of the lawn becomes necessary. Spiking is a process in which the lawn surface is poked with a pointed instrument to at least 5 c.m. depth. For this a garden fork, a crow bar or a pickaxe also can be used. These implements must be poked in the ground and also pulled out straight (90 degrees to the soil surface). In foreign countries spiked rollers are available. These rollers simplify the job of spiking. Before spiking, the lawn should be mowed as low as possible. Closer the poked holes, better will be the results. After spiking is done, the lawn grass should be covered with finely sieved (3 m.m. mesh sieve) mixture of 3 parts of farmyard manure and 2 parts of good garden soil. Spiking and top-dressing of a lawn should be done once in 6 months to prevent severe root matting. One may use chemical fertilizers, such as urea, for lush green look of the lawn. However, the organic manures are must for the lawns. Amongst the weeds which could cause serious damage to the lawn is Cyperus rotundus, commonly called as “xÉÉMÉ®ú¨ÉÉälÉÉ” or “±É´½þɳýÉ”. These grass-like weeds have a widespread, underground root system. They also have underground runners which produce numerous tubers. When the weed is pulled out, most of the runners along with tubers remain in the ground only; which continue to grow again and again. So as soon as this weed is seen sprouting in the lawns, they must be dug out of the ground without any delay. This will prevent them from forming the underground runners and tubers.

Ground Covers : Great effort is needed to maintain a perfect lawn. The sprawling open spaces, which are hardly used as sitting places, can be planted with ground covers. Though grasses too are ground covers, certain creeping herbs used for covering the grounds are called as ‘ground covers’. Wedelia, Pilea, Pellionia, Plectranthus, Hemigraphis, Alternanthera, Syngonium, money plant, Tradescantia, Callisia, selaginella, Episcia, Portulaca, Bramhi, Helxine etc. are very good as ground covers.