Lawn update – 29th May

Hot, warm and cool to wet and dry has been the order of the day over the past week, so typical British weather then. Good for grass growth and development of a lawn though.

No earthworm activity has been noticed for some time now – probably going back to early April when the ground dried out quite a bit and rainfall was distinctly lacking over much of the UK.

A quick update of what has been happening over the past week:

23rd May – 1200: Air temp = 19.8C, Soil temp = 16.0C; Grass surface wet; Grass height ranging from 50mm – 60mm; height of cut for mower = 40mm. As the picture shows, the lawn edge is definitely ready for a trimming.

Lawn on 23rd May

Lawn on 23rd May

What I also found on my patio were two beetles, both the common cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha).  There are other sorts of chafer beetles, but this is arguably the most common on lawns. These have a 3-year lifecycle. The grubs can be a nuisance on lawns and eat away at grass roots, potentially causing serious damage. In practice damage is more limited and localised, but you do need to watch out for brown, dying patches of lawn which might be a consequence of high levels of chafer grubs.

Common cockchafer beetle

Common cockchafer beetle

26th May – 1300: Air temp = 21.6C, Soil temp = 20.1C; Grass surface dry; Grass height ranging mostly from 60mm – 70mm (with some outlying measurements at 45mm and 75mm); height of cut for mower = 40mm.

27th May: a quick trim of the lawn edge with edging shears (this took no more than 5-minutes), plus hand weeding of some weeds on the lawn, plus removing of lawn clippings and weeds from the border adjoining the lawn (I spent about 15-minutes on this task) to leave a nice and tidy finish.

Lawn edging on 27th May

Lawn edging on 27th May

Completed lawn edging on 27th May

Completed lawn edging on 27th May

Hand weed tool

Hand weeding tool

Not wanting to spray a range of weed-killers on the lawn and due to relatively small size of the lawn, all that is really needed is some hand weeding to complement any surface raking (scarification) that might also take place as part of routine maintenance. I used a simple hand weeding tool, being careful not to tear out large chunks of lawn, but just to tease out the weed, ideally removing any taproot. What you should be left with is still a well presented piece of turf. If there was a high amount of weed content then the use of a weed-killer would need to be considered if they were wanting to be controlled speedily, but if there wasn’t the need for urgency then physical and cultural techniques could be used to gradually reduce weed content.

Careful use of hand weeding tool

Careful use of hand weeding tool

Hand weeding

Hand weeding

If you have a fairly weed free lawn, then you can carefully pluck the weed’s leaves, although this won’t remove any roots it will weaken the weed. However, this will need to be carried out regularly to stop any build-up of weeds, but if the lawn is small it isn’t actually a very time consuming task.

Hand weeded lawn

Hand weeded lawn

The hand weeding can be quite therapeutic, however, I wouldn’t fancy carrying this out on too large an area though.

28th May: 1030: Air temp = 19.9C, Soil temp = 18.4C; Grass surface dry; Grass height mostly at 50mm; height of cut for mower = 40mm; grass clippings amounted to about 1/4 of a box.

The lawn now has very good sward density and is a good colour.

Lawn on 28th May

Lawn on 28th May

The lawn is really starting to frame the rest of the garden now; with shrubs coming into bloom, plus some bedding plants getting ready to be planted out the whole garden is starting to look very nice indeed.

Today, 29th May, brings a cooler day (around 15C) with steady regular drizzle, so not very good for actually much gardening, just sitting back and admiring it and planning what next to do.

Chris Gray, 29th May 2017