Lawn update 14th April

The weather was overcast, very little sun breaking through, but dry until later when it did rain as was forecast, but I decided this was a good time to get the final renovation work completed.

I carried out mechanical scarification to really get out the bulk of the moss and surface debris. The hand springbok rake did a reasonable job but I realised that something heavier duty was needed.

The depth setting for the scarifier was light, about 4mm.

Ruler in scarifier groove showing about 4mm deep setting

Ruler in scarifier groove showing about 4mm deep setting

There was quite a bit coming out and the collection bag was getting clogged up quite quickly so I took it off and let the debris build up on the lawn ready for raking up afterwards. I doubled scarified the lawn, with the second direction being offset from the first by around 200 or so. This double operation over the lawn took a total of 5-minutes, a really quick activity.

Mechanical scarifier

Mechanical scarifier

The amount of debris was significant – one large black bag filled with moss and vegetation from the scarifier. Raking of the lawn and bagging up again took just 5-minutes also.

Bag of scarifier rakings

Bag of scarifier rakings

With it looking pretty untidy, it definitely needed a mowing to clean up the surface. 1 and a quarter boxes of clippings were removed, with it taking say 5-minutes to cut the lawn.

Mown after scarifier clippings raked up

Mown after scarifier clippings raked up

I wanted to hollow-tine the back half of the lawn where the bulk of the moss was previously present because soil conditions are typically the main cause of moss infestation. The soil was drier than the other day but could have been a bit drier so more soil cores were ejected. (The ready on the moisture meter was exactly 4)

The back 16m2 took 28 minutes to hollow tine, with the spacings mostly being 75mm intervals, and 3-minutes to brush up the extracted cores with a hard broom. If I had hollow-tined the entire lawn by hand then this would have taken about 45-minutes and say 5 minutes to brush up. So with a little rest break, one-hour would be a reasonable time for planning purposes. I’ll do some solid-tining of the bottom part of the lawn either before the seed germinates or afterwards when it has become established.

Hollow-tine aerator in action

Hollow-tine aerator in action

A pretty thin surface in places and with minimal impact from the fertiliser last week, although it probably still needs time to get going, I decided to give the lawn another boost with an 8:0:0 + 2% Fe fertiliser, with about 1kg being applied, which equates to 40g/m2.

Whilst rain was forecast, it didn’t look very likely at the time so I decided a little watering in would be beneficial to prevent the fertiliser from scorching the lawn.

Air and soil temperature were taken at 2pm: soil = 13.8C, whilst air = 12.5C.

Looking good now and all ready for the final piece in the jigsaw of seeding (with the previously bought perennial ryegrass and red fescue mixture) and a sharp sand top-dressing.

The seed was applied using the handy box shaker: I put on all 1.5 kg of the seed, giving some extra to the really thin /bare areas; it took just 2-minutes to put on all the seed at a pretty even rate.

Seed rate on thin areas

Seed rate on thin areas

Now it was ready for the sand top-dressing. Being careful not to overdo it with manual handling of heavy loads, I used my wheel barrow to transport the bags of sand (20kg each) from the front of the house to the rear lawn.

I laid out the bags in the rough location I would need to help evenly spread the sand over the entire lawn.

Sand bags laid out over lawn ready for top-dressing work

Sand bags laid out over lawn ready for top-dressing work

Here’s a video of me demonstrating the careful and even application of sharp sand to a lawn. Notice the small amount shovelled each time and how it is applied close to the lawn and in a gradual sweeping arc action, carefully moving around in a circular manner and then tidying up any missed areas afterwards, leaving an even and smooth finish. Care is also taken to not dig or stab the shovel into the lawn, which is often seen by less proficient operators. You will also see unqualified operators lump the top-dressing onto a lawn in clumps and with areas missed out – it’s obvious to an expert who is a good groundsman or greenkeeper in contrast to someone pretending to be one and who will often call themselves a lawn care specialist (when it’s clear they are really no such thing).

7 bags were used (140kg in total) over the 25m2, giving an average application rate of 5.6kg/m2, which is on the heavier side, but I considered this is what was needed for my lawn at this moment in time. This just took a total of 8-minutes to apply, plus the time to move the bags from the front of the house (say another 5-minutes).

Sand applied but not worked in

Sand applied but not worked in

I waited 30 minutes to help the sand air dry a little – I knew it wasn’t going to dry much (ideally it would have been a nice sunny day when I could have let the sand dry before applying it and then it would easily work into the surface, but sometimes you just have to work with the conditions) – and then gave the entire lawn a careful working with the back of a landscape rake. The raking time was just 3.5 minutes.

Use of landscape rake to work in sand top-dressing

Use of landscape rake to work in sand top-dressing

These are really good tools to help work a top-dressing into a lawn. Use it steadily so it doesn’t  bounce slightly over the ground, which would happen if you worked it too fast. The aim is to carefully work the top-dressing over the lawn, filling in any slight depressions and working it amongst the grass leaves, all the time helping to protect the grass seed for future germination and development.

This is the finished product so far; just want some rain to help wash it in a little and some sun to help dry it as well so I can work it in a little more as well. This is what it should look like if it’s been done properly.

Lawn:14th April after renovation

Lawn:14th April after renovation

Chris Gray, 14th April 2017