Easy fix for ‘poor’ lawn quality to get a ‘bowling green finish’
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Domestic garden lawns and sports pitches alike can suffer from the same frustrating issues, one of which is patchiness caused by sensitive turf. Even if your lawn appears to be growing healthily, problems below the soil surface can wreak havoc on the durability and longevity of the green blades when walked on. According to experts, short roots are one of the main causes of weak turf, though there is an easy remedy.
Making your lawn durable enough for use throughout the year is something every gardener hopes for, so it can be disappointing when it doesn’t perform.
While this is often a problem faced on sports pitches, as in the case of Wrexham AFC when the turf at the Racecourse ground didn’t live up to standards, it can also affect domestic grass.
If you’ve noticed your lawn is lifting up in clumps when trodden on or covered with furniture, there’s an easy fix you can try to spruce up the grass to make it look evergreen by spring.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Nick Grey said: “Shallow roots are usually from trying to grow the turf quickly.”
He explained that overusing certain products on fresh grass is one of the main causes of weak, short roots.
Nick said: “If you put loads of fertiliser and water down, the grass will shoot up before the roots can properly establish. Letting it dry a bit will encourage the grass to push out its roots at the expense of some visible growth.”
While many sports pitches can solve this problem more easily by using netting to hold the turf together, this isn’t always doable in a home setting. Instead, Nick recommended making use of the rainwater or your hose after laying new grass.
He told Express.co.uk: “At home, if you are aiming for the bowling green finish, then cut it three times a week down to 20mm and water it every other day through the hot dry summer days. Aerate it in spring.”
Another way to address the issue long-term in your garden is to treat the root cause. According to Jonathan Hill, lawn expert at Rolawn, problematic soil is often to blame for this kind of issue.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, he said: “On both sports pitches and domestic lawns poor soil quality is often at the root of the issue.
“With little air within the soil profile, nutrient uptake, drainage and plant vigour get compromised. This will also result in a grass plant that is less able to recover from use.
“Short mowing can also encourage short root growth and incorrect fertilising can also lead to roots not ‘searching’ for nutrients in the soil, instead depending on what is applied to the surface.”
It’s not just the appearance of your lawn that can suffer when short roots are left unsolved. In fact, it can make your garden much less durable to foot traffic and changing weather conditions.
Jonathon said: “Shorter roots make turf more susceptible to wear and tear, with less ability to recover from use.
“During periods of drought, longer rooted plants can obtain moisture and nutrients from deeper layers of soil whereas shorter roots will be more dependent on rainfall or irrigation and surface applications of fertiliser.
“Turf with shorter roots will be more susceptible to greater damage on a sports pitch where rotational forces are higher.”
If you’re experiencing these issues with an established lawn, the best remedy is to increase drought and flood tolerance. To do this, you can establish a “straightforward maintenance routine” that encourages a deep and robust root system.
Jonathon said: “This enhances the lawn’s natural ability to cope with these conditions. This routine would include aerating the ground in autumn to enable air, water and nutrients to make their way to the roots.
“The spaces that develop in the earth with aeration, not only allow the water to reach the roots when required but also help excess water to move easily through the earth in heavy rainfall, reducing flooding. Scarifying will prevent too deep a layer of thatch from forming which, if left, could potentially prevent water and light from reaching the roots.”
The water depth can be checked by gently lifting the corners of the turf and using a kitchen knife to dig a small hole in the soil; the watered depth will appear darker than the soil below it.
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