Lawn comparison – 1 year on

With the extreme weather we’ve had this year – extended dry periods and practically no rain through June and July, along with only a little in August, I thought a comparison of my lawn with what it was like exactly one year ago would be useful.

Lawn cut on 8th September 2018

Lawn cut on 8th September 2018

The background story for this year for my lawn has been that all that has been done to it is mow at 40mm, with clippings always being boxed off; a few trimmings of the lawn edge to keep it tidy and hand weeding of weeds that have appeared in the lawn. I haven’t done any watering, feeding, raking, forking or anything else. I wanted to see what it might look like with minimum of effort to maintain a lawn in a suitable condition and I think it has done extremely well.

Here’s the same lawn and details taken from my blog exactly one year ago:

Lawn 8th September 2017

Lawn 8th September 2017

The data for today, taken at 10.30am, to compare with last year are:

  • Grass height range prior to cut at 40mm = 50mm to 80mm, with an average measurement of 60mm.
  • Soil temperature at 50mm depth = 12.6C; surface canopy temperature = 14.0C; both using metal probe digital temperature meter;
  • Infra red laser temperature meter gave 14.1C on a wet leaf and 15.0C on a drier leaf;
  • Clippings = about 1/5th of a box;
  • the surface was mostly damp prior to cutting;
  • the soil pH was 6.6
  • the soil moisture reading at 50mm was 3.9.
  • The soil pH and moisture reading are essentially the same as when I did an initial assessment of the lawn back in March 2017.

Very similar condition but considering the different weather conditions we’ve had the assumption would have been that it wouldn’t have been looking this good, especially when we remember the limited work put in this year as well. However, much of this year’s look has been built on all the effort put into the lawn last year, so don’t think you can just get away with the small amount of work I did this year to achieve this outcome.

Issues are already creeping in which will need additional and more typical lawn maintenance work later this year and into next spring – including forking, raking and possibly a feed next year but I’ll see what the density of the grass is like at the start of the season before deciding on that. Forking and raking will be key, along with regular mowing, edge trimming and hand weeding, to keeping it in good condition. Some localised top-dressing may also be required.

The following two pictures show the worst area on the lawn, which is located where the clothes line runs above the lawn perimeter; this gets maximum compaction and has suffered from inadequate forking for the area. Within the lawn is a small thinning area where moss is creeping back in and also you will notice lateral (sideways) rather than more upright growth of the grass leaves which is mainly due to lack of raking. So, some need for attention and this mustn’t be neglected if I want to keep the lawn in good condition for next year as well.

Area underneath clothes line

Area underneath clothes line

Area underneath clothes line

Area underneath clothes line

There was two puffballs in the lawn, pictures below, which I think are Meadow puffball Lycoperdon pratense (syn. Vascellum pratense). There’s a picture with just the puffball showing and then after I carefully removed it from the lawn showing its stalk as well: the ratio is roughly 2 part stalk to 1 part puffball.

Puffball

Puffball

Puffball and stalk

Puffball and stalk

Conclusion

Well, I think it’s fair to say that all the effort from last year has certainly helped to create the good lawn of this year; however, the extended effect of those efforts will start to tail off, so it’s important that some appropriate lawn maintenance work is carried out over the winter and next year otherwise the lawn will deteriorate.

Chris Gray, 8th September 2018