The lawn

The Precious grass carpet
 
Who wouldn’t want a a soft, thick carpet of intense green, to make the plants, flowers and trees of the garden  stand out? In front of the home, there can’t be anything better on warm summer days because, differently form any other artificial covering material, grass does not heat up under the rays of the sun. The lawn: a green surface that a careless observer might take for granted, but which instead requires care and attention just as constant as that dedicated to the cultivation of a plant or flower. It is in fact necessary to combat both drought (watering whenever necessary) as well as excessive rainfall (with proper preventive drainage), and infesting weeds and moss. It is also necessary to avoid using only certain zones, which turn into a packed earth path. Technically, there are different kinds of lawns. Essentially, according to their use, there are three: the productive meadow, (for grazing, with weeds and broadleaf grass, not very attractive), the lawn for playing fields (football, rubgy etc.), the decorative lawn (for the garden). The latter two are composed only of grass with selected blades and with dense, compact rowth.

When to seed?

The best time is September in cold areas, October-November in warmer regions. Spring is also fine, respectively in March-April and February-March.

What to do “first”?

First of all, if the terrain has water puddles (for example if it has a lot of clay) you must first perform appropriate drainage; then, you need to carry out heavy fertilizing and eliminate infesting weeds.

What to seed?

Seeds are used in the form of a mixture. To determine which seed mixture is the most suitable to obtain a good lawn, you must perform a chemical analysis of the terrain in order to learn the degree of acidity and alkalinity, as well as the their contents. The most suitable seed will be the predominant part of the mixture. Basically the personnel of specialized shops should be able to suggest the most appropriate mixture once they know the chemicalphysical makeup of the terrain.

How to seed?

On a calm day, with the ground slightly damp, lightly rake the terrain which has already been worked and from which rocks and weeds have been removed. Usually one square meter is seeded with 20 to 30 grams of seed: in any case follow the instructions on the seed package. To ease uniform seed distribution, mark off parallel spaces using twine, controlling the exact amount of seed between them. Plant the seeds shallowly by means of careful raking. Keep any birds away with strips of aluminum foil or white rags set out on the ground.

Is a “pre-packaged” lawn all right?

There is no reason not to suggest creating a lawn through the transplant of sod (or turf), except of course for the higher cost and placement limited by more precise rules and instructions. Placement should take place in September or in February-March, in order to allow the sod time to develop new roots before cold sets in and thus start developing immediately.

When to fertilize?

It should be remembered that fertilizing the lawn is just as important as doing so for any other area or plant in the garden. This operation should be carried out in the spring so as to maintain the growth pace at the beginning of the growing season. Appropriate fertilizers are used which also serve to increase the development of the lawns in which the thickness has been reduced by heavy use.

How to fertilize?

Fertilizers can be either granular or liquid. The first are spread by hand (dividing the lawn in sectors with twine for higher precision) or with appropriate spreaders. With a sprayer the fertilizer is first dissolved in water and then distributed with a fine spray: this is the best fertilization possible.

How to judge a lawn?

First of all the regularity of the green, which is often difficult to achieve if there are rises or depressions; it should also be observed how thick it is, that is, how many blades of grass there are in a determined surface area; naturally the smoothness, which means the lack of tufts which interrupt the smoothness of the surface; it is also necessary to check for the complete lack or scarcity of infesting plants. The presence of moss is another (negative) sign of the health status of the lawn.

What are the green’s enemies?

Moss in the lawn is of different types; it is a perennial plant and it forms when the terrain is too poor or too humid. It spreads rapidly by means of spores. The different types of moss lead to a reduction in the aerating of the roots of the blades of grass, impeding regular lawn growth. To prevent moss it is a good practice to comb the grassy layer once or twice a year with an iron rake and to drain the terrain well. Infesting growths, such as crabgrass, bristles, and barnyard grass disturb the uniformity of the lawn, as do small piles of earth caused by earthworms (get rid of these cones of earth by periodically sweeping). Fusarium wilt causes yellow patches, kills the grass and at times generates a white mold; in this case it is necessary to intervene with special fungicide. In the lawn is of different types; it is a perennial plant and it forms when the terrain is It spreads rapidly by means of spores. The different types of moss lead to a reduction in the aerating of the roots of the blades of grass, impeding regular lawn growth. To prevent moss it is a good practice to the grassy layer once or twice a year with an iron rake and to such as crabgrass, bristles, and barnyard grass disturb the uniformity of the lawn, as do small piles of earth caused by (get rid of these cones of earth by periodically sweeping). causes yellow patches, kills the grass and at times generates a white mold; in this case it is necessary to intervene with special fungicide.

How to take care of it?

To keep it looking good and with an intense green color, a lawn must be constantly mowed mechanically with a lawn mower, rolled and aerated. Furthermore, it must frequently be cleaned up and raked, freed of infesting grasses and checked for parasites and funguses. Also intervene when you detect signs of wear from trampling, bald patches or matting of the lawn.

When and how often to mow?

It is necessary to regularly cut them lawn starting in the spring: the best frequency to adopt is a minimum frequent cut. Apart from ensuring the regularity of the surface, by removing material a little at a time you avoid stress to the lawn and you remove any old or degraded tissues. Basically this means intervening once- or even better twice - per week.

How to mow?

Cutting the grass is a maintenance operation of the utmost importance, much more important than pruning plants. Avoid mowing when the grass is extremely wet. Very low cuts, almost at ground level, weaken the lawn. It is advisable to cut in strips, proceeding in a back and forth direction, letting the blade work halfway, that is running
half on the tall grass and half on the grass that has already been cut; in this way the motor of the machine is not overworked and also the fatigue of the person pushing the machine is reduced. During dry spells it is best to leave the cut grass lying where it falls, as long as the lawn is free of infesting grasses which would benefit from its humidity. Lawn mowers and lawn tractors are a valid aid for comfortable and precise mowing. It’s enough to choose the model which is best suited to your needs.

How to achieve a perfectly cut lawn?

First and foremost, it is vital to use machines with well sharpened blades and to pay careful attention to the cutting height: 3 cm in spring / autumn and 5 cm in summer. Just be careful not to cut the grass too high: if a long time has passed since the last mowing, avoid cutting more than half the total height of the grass. For an ideal trim, it is preferable not to work in humid or wet weather and to alternate the mowing direction from time to time. However, the most important thing is regularity: nothing is more damaging to a lawn than irregular and drastic mowing.

Is it okay to water grass every day?

Good irrigation doesn’t necessarily mean frequent irrigation. For example, it is often mistakenly believed that watering grass daily during dry spells is beneficial: in actual fact, this only stimulates the growth of roots on the surface of the topsoil, exposing the lawn to the risk of parching and dehydration. The best solution is to water grass once every 4-5 days, but abundantly in order to allow the water to penetrate deep into the soil. Nevertheless, at the first sign of discolouration or withering, you should give the grass an intensive watering.
 

Why aerate the lawn?

Grass needs light and oxygen to grow and prevent it from drying up. Dry patches on the surface prevent soil from absorbing sufficient moisture and impede the exchange of gases and nutrients. To avoid these problems, you should aerate your lawn at least once a year (before winter). The best solution is to use professional lawn aerators, which are equipped with spikes that punch holes into the soil, thereby enabling water and nutrients to penetrate easily down to the roots.

Brushcutter, lawn mower or lawn tractor?

The choice of proper equipment for the care of the lawn depends on its size, but not only that. While it is obvious that for an area of more than 2000-2500 m² a lawn tractor is advisable, the habits and the pleasure of mowing one’s lawn while walking and getting some exercise may be a personal choice. On the other hand a brushcutter is especially appropriate for small and medium-sized areas (up to 300 m²) and for its versatility: in fact, it’s perfect for touching up edges, but also for removing weeds and freeing the terrain of small bushes, since it is possible to mount cutting tools as well as nylon line. It is also indispensable on terrain that is broken, inclined or filled with ornamental trees and shrubs so that a mower or lawn tractor does not pass.

Mower: electric, push or selfpropelled?

Among the most widespread of garden machines, lawn mowers come in numerous variants to meet every need. For gardens of very limited size there are electric models in either steel or plastic, which are especially appreciated for their light weight, silence and ease of transport and storage, thanks to the folding handle. Push models are preferable for reduced spaces, while self-propulsion is important for reducing fatigue in large gardens or on broken or inclined terrain. With petrol-engine mowers it is possible to work a surface of up to approximately 1200 m², while the self-propelled models can go up to 2000.
 

Which characteristics need to be taken into consideration?

 
Apart form the working capacity (cutting width with respect to the area to be worked), to be considered are the type of motor (electric or petrol), starting (manual or electric), the traction, the type of cutting height adjustment, independent for each wheel or centralized continuous selection), the speed variator to adapt to all types of terrain and grass, the capacity of the grass box for long working without interruption. The blade stop is important for safety, because it stops the cutting tool even if the engine is on. The wheels on ball bearings guarantee easy rolling even on broken ground. The handle is heightadjustable, making it the perfect excuse to put the whole family to work.

Lawn tractors

Maneuvering or pushing a lawn mower is great exercise, but over 2000 m2 it is advantageous to use a lawn tractor: the cutting surface is usually about 50% wider compared to a normal mower, and the speed is double. The result is that the time needed to give our lawn a perfect cut is reduced by half. The reduced turning radius make them maneuverable even in gardens with trees or full of ornamental bushes.

How to choose a lawn tractor?

Some fundamental things are the engine power, the overall sturdiness, easy access to control instruments, the ergonomics of the seat, and rapid adjustments. The best thing is to try the tractor in order to test its handling and ease of use, cutting width, turning radius, transmission type, whether mechanical or hydrostatic, which makes it possible to control the gear and speed with only one pedal. It is also necessary to evaluate whether you prefer side grass discharge or rear collection, or the possibility to mount a mulching kit. The most advanced models also have a grass box full signal, overlapped counter-rotating blades and LEDs in the control panel that make it possible to keep the status of the machine and operations under control.

Brushcutters, convenient and versatile

This is a tool that represents the evolution of the ancient scythe, to be used just as instinctively, consisting of an engine body with the handgrip and a long shaft that transmits the movement to the cutting tool mounted at the end, usually a head with a nylon line. It is perfect for cutting and touching-up jobs in the garden, but thanks to the possibility to mount disks in plastic or steel it adapts to more professional jobs in deweeding and revitalizing an area through the removal of shrubs, cane, brambles, brushwood, and undergrowth vegetation, even wood. For working in difficult areas (escarpments, ditches) there are also back pack models.

And for home jobs?

Brushcutters for home cleaning jobs of the lawn and curb edging are also called trimmers, to underline the lightweight,
precision use of the machine. They can be aither electric motors, with the advantages of low noise, light weight and immediate starting, but limited by the power cable. Or they may have petrol engines, more powerful and versatile, efficient on all terrains and completely independent. The “Primer” and “Lift Starter” are quite useful devices which eliminate the risk of flooding the engine and guarantee quick starting even after long shutdown periods. A good brushcutter also has easy access to the air filter, without the need of tools.
 

Practicality means safety

Always cut grass using sturdy shoes (possibly cut-resistant), long trousers, gloves and safety visors. Proper clothing
helps us not only to be safe, but to perform our work better and more safely.
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