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December blog

Robotic mowers !! – The perfect Christmas present for the lawn lover

Well another year draws to a close , and the last few leaves remain on the Oak trees as natures takes a rest.  Although only 19 days to go before the days start to get longer again and by January we will start to notice . Grass growth is really slowing down now and treatments over the next few months will be aimed at reducing the moss that thrives in these moist dark days and strengthening the grass to enable it to with stand the colder weather.

Despite the conditions grass will still continue to grow and the key to having a good lawn and maximise the benefit of the treatments that we carry out of the year it is important to keep it cut.

Regular mowing is a must – but doing it at the right time to keep grass at the desired level is not always easy, either you don’t have the time when the weather is suitable or you have the time but the weather is unsuitable  – the answer could be a robotic lawnmower .

Robotic lawnmowers have been around now for a good 20 years , initially they were very expensive and not reliable, that has all changed and prices have come down to now be comparable with the price of a good petrol lawnmower .

I have to admit I have always been a purist when It comes to grass cutting and like to see my lawn nicely striped . But I am beginning to see the advantages of an automated robot mower having invested in one. It pops out on a regular basis and trims the lawn,  I can still stripe the lawn when I want to , and can do it when the lawn is in perfect condition rather than having to cut back an over grown lawn first .

I also like the idea that these little bots can pop out 2 or 3 times a week for a 5-6 hours and just tip the grass , the clippings don’t have to be carried off and are left to decompose with in the lawn building up the organic matter and creating a healthy soil and the soil microorganisms break them down and re-lease nutrient back in to the soil to feed the grass.

There is also the added benefit of locking up carbon more effectively than take the grass cuttings away so a real positive impact on the environment.

Todays robots are really very high tech, some even use data from the Galio satellite to track their location on the lawn and to ensure they cut in measured square blocks of a few metres so as not to miss anything .

You can programme them from an app on your mobile phone so they work when you want them to operate, so not at weekends when you want to use the lawn for entertaining.

There is a robotic mower to suit ever lawn dependent on size and use, they do not cost a lot to run requiring a small service and blade replacement to get best cut once a year.  They cost less than a £1 per week to run , re-charged from a mains power point in no time at all.

So if you are still struggling with ideas for Christmas presents , a robotic mower would make a great gift. I am now able to supply you with an “Ambrogio robot” mower I can talk through the options to identify what is best for you , supply and install.

We also have our gift vouchers that can be purchased in multiples of £50 – these can be used against any Lawn work we undertake for existing or in the case of new customers against any work following a survey – they only cover the county of Hertfordshire.

Ambrogio Robo Mower                                                          Christmas gift voucher

Christmas Present for Gardeners

 

Merry Christmas & Best wishes for the New Year

Mike

November Blog

Well we head into the darker days of Autumn , the clocks have gone back and nature seems to be curling up. COP26 is part way through and politicians are making promises as to how they can shape policies to protect our environment for the future .

Garden plants and Grass can contribute to that by absorbing CO2 as well as the benefit we get from exercise and well being by being out in the open.

Autumn is a spectacular season and with global warming we are getting milder weather , frosts are coming later , summer bedding plants are still hanging on, flowering perennials are all looking glorious and the leaves on trees are only just starting to come down.

Most important job in the garden now is to keep the leaves of the lawn – they can quickly become fixed and smother grass. Leaves depending on the species can take a long time to break down and if not removed they will sit on your lawn and kill the grass.

With leaves come worms and worm casts which are also a big problem , with the moist weather and the leaves they can become very active .

Earthworms are not necessarily bad for our lawns as they are an important part of the eco-system. It’s fair to say the ‘pros’ outweigh the ‘cons’ when it comes to worms, as they recycle nutrients, feed on dead plant material and create natural aeration in the soil.

 

That said, worm casts produced on the surface of our lawns (usually between autumn and early spring) can be a real irritation. The casts can cause turf surfaces to become muddy, slippery, unsightly and can create loads of potential ‘weed pockets’ with each cast, so we have to manage the situation best we can

 

Moss where grass is thin it is producing a lush green thick carpet, but a timely treatment with an iron based product now will keep it at bay – followed up again in late December /  early January. Moss is actually worse this year as we have not had any drying weather through the autumn and it seems to have been emerging since August and so has got a real grip in places. One side benefit of applying Iron sulphate to control moss is that it is acidic and the worms don’t like that so it can keep them from coming to the surface.

I attended first trade exhibition this week for 2 years – held at the NEC. Not as big as in previous years , and not as well attended – but it was good to see others from the lawn care industry. Main topic of conversation amongst manufacturers and distributors seemed to be around the impact COVID has had on the supply chain and rising costs of materials, fertiliser and fuel – unfortunately we are starting to see price increases.

Robotic lawnmowers , I was struck by was the number of companies who were promoting the use robotic lawnmowers, the cost of these has come down from what it was and technology has made them simple to operate. I can see they could now be a real useful gardening tool to help maintain the lawn – I would be interested to hear what you think

October Blog

As we head in to the Autumn it’s a time to reflect on the summer and the effect it had on the grass and the implications .

Normally the late summer highlights the poor state of many lawns following a dry period in September  – this year due to the pattern of rain fall over the summer many lawns remained relatively green .

Many of us felt it was a wetter summer than 2020, but in fact the rainfall from June to September was similar to last year, despite that many people have said how difficult it was to keep up with grass cutting due to the wet weather.

In fact August this year we had less rain 40 mm over 3 days than last year last year 129 mm – over 9 days.

Where this year differed and very noticeable in August was the number of over cast days and lack of sun. It was also very calm, no wind to dry anything out and so grass remained damp, similar conditions continued in to September.  Consequence of this is far more moss this time of year than usual , already where trees cast a shadow across lawns moss growth is quite rapid , so the first moss control application of the autumn will be much needed.

As we struggled to cut the grass – or cut it where it had not been able to dry off the roller on the mower flattened it rather than cutting , and cutting it short where it had grown long when it was possible checked the growth and left scalped areas which had to grow back and in some cases struggled leaving white straggly looking patches . This weather also benefited the creeping grasses that  put out stolon’s and became straggly and now appearing as white patches in lawns where they have been cut back and growth slowed down . These areas are going to need to be scarified hard /  cut back and possibly over seeded to improve the grass mix.

We have also seen far more disease on lawns – browning areas which look as if they are dyeing back through lack of moisture . Conditions have been perfect for Fusarium patch , Red Thread and Yellow rust , normally these would not be so noticeable in domestic lawns but with the conditions we have had this year they have exploded. Treatment with fungicides is an option – but expensive.

Weeds that we would not normally see in late August / September have continued to germinate with the moisture in the soil or survived earlier weed killer applications as the leaf was not dry enough to completely absorb the chemical when it was applied.

Speedwell is always a problem in grass and there are different types  – but one not normally seen that has established it self in the last few months is “Thyme Leaved Speedwell “ this looks very different to the normal speedwell’s having a soft oval shaped leaf and small light Blue flower, it grows very flat along the surface and spreads by extending stems that then root – current moist weather conditions have been perfect for this. Finding a weedkiller that will control this will certainly be a challenge

Thyme leaved Speedwell

 

July Blog

Well weather continues to be unpredictable , who would have thought that we would go through June with 2 inches of rain . This provided ideal conditions for newly sown lawns to thicken up nicely and also take the chance to re-seed some at the end of June in the hope that it would stay moist enough to enable germination . Well July has started with showers so you never know what you can get away with .

Even seeing some moss re-emerge on lawns where it had not quite cleared away from earlier iron applications to control it as the rain and warmth provide ideal conditions for re-growth.

Lot of fungi appearing in lawns this is due to warm weather in first half of June followed by wet weather and humidity  – nothing to worry about , not harmful and will disappear as soon as it drys out.

Also seeing a lot of Red Thread  – particularly on Fescue lawns , again common under the current weather conditions , the grass will grow out of it and only in really sever conditions is it worth treating with a fungicide , and it should really be as part of a planned approach where problems are know to exist

As we move in to July the expectation is that warmer dry weather will slow the release of fertiliser down, so we switch to using an Organic foliar feed to keep grass growing and looking nice and Green

We use a Symbio  product made from condensed molasses soluble by amino acid fermentation. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and improve plant metabolism , sugars act as a bio stimulant for bacteria and the organic content acts as a fungal stimulant . Added to this is a Bio Tab, this benefits the soil micro-organisms , increases root mass, and converts thatch to humus improving water and nutrient retention.

In an ideal world this would be applied after aeration as it has a better chance of getting to where it is needed . Aeration reduces surface compaction and allow air and nutrients in to the soil which stimulates root growth. Aeration can be with hollow tine , in which case it is normal to top dress afterwards normally carried out early spring or autumn or solid tine that can be carried out all year round.

April News

Just a quick catch up – this years weather is rather unusual and not helpful for lawns

  • February saw the end of the very wet winter – it was almost as if suddenly the tap was turned off.
  • March saw a little bit of rain , approximately 1 inch which was spread over the month in small amounts little and often .
  • April nothing in the way of rain – so much for April showers , it has been colder than March with the chilling winds although it has improved in the last few days.
  • The outlook is not much better with no rain forecast for early May.
  • These winds have also increased evaporation and dried the soil out and you can see areas of lawns that are susceptible to drying out starting to look pale.
  • We have also had a lot more frosts this month than I can remember for a long time and so many magnolias in full bloom have been hit – it has also kept soil temperatures down which is not helpful where grass seed has been sown and trying to germinate .
  • Its also too cold for the nematodes that we might have put down to control over wintered leather jacket

 

This cold dry weather means that herbicides applied to control weeds will not work so effectively , fertiliser will be released slowly as it is not moist enough , grass seed unless in contact with damp soil will be slow to germinate and lawns that have been scarified to remove moss will struggle to recover.

 

I have stopped all cultural work that was planned – scarification and aeration etc due to the dry,  this will be re-scheduled

 

December News

December soon came around and the first morning of the month has started with a relatively bright day after the misty fog of November .

Overall November had 50mls of rain  – not a lot , but it came on the back of a wet November – and with the exception of a couple of frosts, the dull days kept surfaces damp and slippery . We also had some remarkably high day and night temperatures that kept the grass growing  – and the Moss.

Most lawns I have seen remained relatively disease free, but for any golfers you might have noticed that some of the greens looked pretty bad where they had not been able to apply fungicides. Golf greens are under constant use ( COVID permitting ) and the grass is so much more stressed , and fed to keep it looking fresh , but then it is more susceptible.

With your lawn we try to avoid over feeding and look at the cultural practices to improve the soil which keeps the grass growth in balance. The last of the autumn application have now been applied, which was a mixed feed biased towards root growth and less top growth.

We are now using this period for maintenance and checking over the equipment to be ready for the New Year , also implementing plans for next year , and installing new software that I hope will improve communications with you. By early January we will be back to apply the Winter treatment and first of the year , which will be a combined lawn tonic and moss killer , this is also an opportunity to re-asses your lawn and make any further recommendations for the forth coming year.

If you are struggling to come up with any ideas for Christmas presents for someone we are offering gift vouchers that can be purchased in multiples of £50 – these can be used against any Lawn work we undertake for existing or in the case of new customers against any work following a survey – they only cover the county of Hertfordshire.

Merry Christmas & Best wishes for the New Year

 

Mike

Christmas Present for Gardeners