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August Blog

August blog

Every time I write about it being dry – it rains , I finished the following on Thursday 13th August  and since then we have had 3.5 inches of rain !!!!!

Well the hot weather  returned with a vengeance and lawns are really suffering as a consequence  . The South East has been much drier than the western side of the country and even the rains of July have not helped.

Comparisons are being made with 1976 – also a long hot dry summer. In many places the ground is rock hard and rain when it comes is likely to run off and make very little difference – we will need steady light rains to make any difference.

We actually had 3 inches of rain in June and 2.5 inches in July – but the extreme temperatures of 24 deg C to 34 deg for weeks on end reduced the benefit of that rain.

Its been interesting looking at the soil profile of lawns that are dying back – the dark patches seen on the surface where grass is suffering are so dry penetrating with a soil  auger is a real challenge . The core extracted is often completely bone dry to the point of nearly being dust, and at the surface 2-3 centimetres is a thick layer of dead matted material that acts as a surface sponge when it rains  – but prevents water getting through.

Lawns that remain looking green and lush now are those that have the benefit of a good healthy soil and open structure – likely to be those that are relatively new where the soil was cultivated to a good depth and roots have been able to go down and soil capacity for holding moisture is good.

Healthy soils are vital to support grass – they need a lot of beneficial bacteria and fungi to be supporting the soil micro- organisms, good soil structure is important to this and extreme weather conditions wet or hot always highlight the problems.

Scarification and aeration is so  important in these circumstance – although both can be very aggressive and so need to be done under the right conditions.

Aeration punches holes into the soil , to allow water to get through and oxygen which will encourage root growth. There are different types of aerator tines – some will slit the surface , others will spike or take a core of soil out . Soil type will determine the best  tine for the job – it should not be carried out on soils when too wet, ideally it is done when soils are dry , this can have the added benefit of shattering encouraging further cracks to appear in the soil around the tine . However aeration cannot be carried out when very dry  – as the machinery will be unable to penetrate the soil as is the case now .

Now is the time to carry out work to improve soil structure  – and through September , please don’t hesitate to call for a survey to look at the soil structure of your lawn.

Soil core

How to treat leatherjackets in your lawn

treat leatherjackets in your lawn

Do you need to treat leatherjackets in your lawn?

What are Leatherjackets?

A leatherjacket is the larva of the crane fly, or the Daddy Longlegs as it is more commonly known. The crane fly lays eggs as part of the natural life cycle. The larvae can be good for the soil ecosystem, because they process organic material and increase microbial activity. However, they can cause considerable damage to your lawn are not generally appreciated by gardeners! At this time of year, we should be regularly checking our lawns for signs of leatherjacket larvae damage. In the worst case scenario, an infestation of leatherjackets can decimate your lawn so being alert and checking for larvae during winter and early spring is a good idea.

How to spot Leatherjackets in your law

  • Dry patches in the lawn
  • Peeling back the dry patches reveal the grubs in the soil. The leatherjackets are grey/brown with a tough skin
  • A large number of daddy long legs around your garden

How to treat leatherjackets in your lawn

The difficulty with leatherjackets is that there is very little you can do to prevent them and unfortunately there are no chemical treatments available. There are, however, ways you can treat leatherjackets in your lawn and get rid of them from your garden.

  • They are valuable prey for birds and mammals various so let nature take it’s course! The birds may peck at the lawn in the hunt for the larvae but with a bit of luck they will solve your problem before the grubs hatch
  • It is possible to treat leatherjackets in your lawn by covering the area with a large black plastic sheet overnight. This will encourage the leatherjackets to come to the surface of the lawn, so they can be removed in the morning once you take off the sheet

You will find that when the larvae have eventually hatched, the crane fly will disappear away and continue their life cycle elsewhere. As mentioned above, there are no pesticides available since changes in EU legislation as few years ago. There are organic solutions available which you can try but they have limited success. These are called nematodes, which are actually microscopic worms. The way they work is that they get into the grubs and infect them with a bacterial disease which kills them. There are lots of factors which need to be right for this treatment to work.

Want to treat leatherjackets in your lawn? Contact us today!

 

July News

July News

Crazy weather that we have – as soon as I mentioned needing to water last month it seems to have not stopped raining . June we had 3 inches of rain and July we have had 1.5 inches to date .

The outlook for the rest of July after the weekend looks like it will improve  – less rain , but still unsettled, which is disappointing.

What is surprising though is the number of lawns that I have looked at recently where they are still dry  – often lawns that are relatively old and predominantly fescue grass mix .

They have built up a layer of thatch and debris at surface level and the water often cannot get through this . It becomes a sponge and water sits there resulting in grass going black , and moss creeps in again.

Now is the time to aerate , that will solve the compaction and open up the soil to allow better water movement , and ideally top soil to get some organic material in to the root zone, this will help improve the soil structure and encourage root growth by getting air into the soil .

A healthy open soil  will support good grass growth , and now is the time to consider applying a soil tonic to get all those micro organisms reproducing and building soil fertility .

July also seems to bring the ants out – all of a sudden our nice flat lawn appears to have mumps , you can physically try brushing the surface with a hard broom to disperse the mounds and try using one of the Nippon ant killer products , they have a treatment that can be diluted and watered on , easy to use and not so unsightly as the powder .

 

 

June News

June

There are a few basics beyond the control of your lawn care provider that any plant requires. These are light, air, warmth and water. This is no different for the grass plant. Given the lawn is the centrepiece of many UK gardens, the key maintenance practice of watering would be a little foolish to ignore.

Grass is a very resilient plant and in the grand scheme of things, with our UK climate which usually brings regular rain, will require infrequent watering providing other maintenance practices are in good order.

We have just gone through 2 months of very dry weather  – with May being the hottest on record and most hours of sunshine for the month

The big question…….to water or not to water?

Our advice on this matter is straightforward, if there is a hosepipe ban do not water.  If there is not a hosepipe ban, then now is the time to consider if to water or not.

 

Option 1 – Not watering your lawn

If you choose not to water your lawn during periods of dry weather, it will soon turn brown.  The grass plant will turn dormant to protect itself and will not start to recover until substantial rainfall arrives.  Most lawns tend to recover within a few months but if we have a prolonged drought such as in 1976 or more recently in 2018 it is likely that the lawn will need remedial work to bring it back to good health, which can be expensive.  In occasional cases, especially lawns grown on poor soil or those that are very old and thatchy it is possible that the entire lawn could die and require replacement.

 

Option 2 – Water your lawn

It is important that the watering of your lawn during a hot and dry period of weather is not ignored if you want the lawn to stay green and healthy.  Watering is not necessarily wasteful – it supports the thousands of grass plants that make up your lawn, which are removing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. Your lawn is part of the solution, not the problem.

Watering your lawn doesn’t have to be time consuming. Watering your lawn just once per week during a testing summer for your garden, providing it is done so deeply and to saturation will be enough to allow your lawn to hang on in there – at least providing it with a life support level of moisture. By watering deeply, infrequently, when rainfall does arrive it will be accepted by the soil surface. If the lawn hasn’t been watered at all, much of this precious natural rainfall will bounce off. This deep watering will encourage roots to seek downwards to find this water.  Lawn professional do not recommend only watering lightly roots will remain close to the surface, and your lawn will be suffering from the symptoms of drought far sooner.

We encourage to watering of an evening where possible. Watering in the late morning or through the afternoon will prove wasteful with much of this water lost to evaporation. By watering of an evening, your lawn will have all night to make the best use of this. If your lawn is prone to disease, watering early in the morning will mean the leaf of the plant does not sit wet overnight.

May News 2020

Well, after the hottest April we finally got some rain – and the showers keep coming. Grass is now looking much better for it .

We have over-seeded some lawns recently, but germination was slow due to dry conditions and no matter what you do there is no substitute for a few days rain.

Watering by hand is never satisfactory as you miss bits, and also different varieties of grass within the mix can take varying times to germinate consequently the new growth can look patchy .

Also new lawns, personally I always prefer to sow seed opposed to turf – it lacks the instant wow factor, but in the long term is better and more cost effective depends on the area and the circumstances.

But to get a good new lawn needs plenty of preparation, any weeds need to be killed of first and it needs to be dug over a good fork depth, and ideally allowed to rest before levelling, and then left again.

By leaving it for a few weeks allows it to settle and re-level, you also get the opportunity of killing any new weed seedlings that come through.

Ideal time to establish new lawns is the Spring and late summer – but over and above all patience is the key – give it time and it will all come through and you will have the lawn you want.

We are also starting now to apply controlled release fertilizers – these are designed to keep releasing feed through out the summer, they have a special coating that responds to soil moisture and growing conditions to keep the lawn looking healthy.

Please remember –  don’t cut your lawn too short – that is the greatest reason for lawns suffering and looking tired .

April News 2020

Well we are all self isolating – fortunately the nature of lawn care and gardening is very much a solo task and so I am continuing to provide a full service to all customers.

Our special April offer on moss control for your front lawn continues – £30 to treat the moss on your front lawn.

Its tragic that garden centres have had to close, as the opportunity to garden is so good on different levels, gardening is a great leveller and no matter how small the garden or patch we all have the the ability to grow some thing . To plant or sow a flower or vegetable and see it grow to maturity is immensely rewarding.

Closure of garden centres is also having a huge impact on the nurseries that grow the plants for the garden centres, they have stock worth 1000s of pounds and in some cases millions which cannot go any where and will face financial ruin as a consequence of the closures.

Whilst we specialise in lawn care we also offer a full garden service and can carry out specific tasks from hedge cutting , mowing the lawn, weeding the borders to full garden maintenance.

We can while the garden centres are closed supply bedding plants, vegetable plants and hanging basket plants which we can plant up for you.