Lawn care

Looking after the lawn

A lush, green lawn is an object of desire for anyone who has a garden. In effect, a healthy expanse of turf enhances the appearance of open spaces surrounding a home. Like plants and flowers, any lawn requires tending and treating continuously: and with a little effort, it can be kept in perfect shape, year in and year out. So here is a quick guide to the more important jobs that need doing through the course of the year to ensure proper upkeep of the lawn.

Mowing

Cutting the grass is not just an enjoyable pastime. It is also an operation absolutely essential to the health of the lawn: mowing must be done at the right time, in the proper way and using suitable equipment. It is important to remember that mowing – which should wait until the winter is definitely over – must be done frequently, to favour new growth: every 10-15 days at first, then once a week or thereabouts (right through the summer). For ornamental lawns, the height of the grass should be, on average, about 3 cm in spring and autumn and 5 cm in summer.

Watering

It is important that the turf receives the right amount of moisture at all times during the year, as dictated by the weather conditions and the nature of the soil.

Fertilization

The soil is not an inexhaustible reservoir of nutrients, and will be impoverished further by mowing: fertilizers are essential as a means of restoring nutrient substances to the soil. It is important to select products specifically for lawns, enabling a slow release of nitrogen and preferably mineral-organic in formulation. The lawn should be fertilized regularly all the year round, except in winter, selecting the products best suited to each respective period. Always keep to the dosages indicated, and be careful to spread the product uniformly.

Controlling weeds and moss

Weeds not only degrade the appearance of a lawn, they also cause damage. The remedies to adopt will depend on the type of weeds: having identified the problem, consult a specialist, who will be able to indicate the weedkillers best able to combat the situation. Moss grows on damp soils, wherever moisture tends to linger. The ideal solution would be to prevent its growth by digging and working peat or silver sand into the soil before seeding, to create a soft and permeable bed. Where moss has taken hold, on the other hand, the soil needs to be treated with suitable products, such as ferrous sulphate; having removed the dead moss, make holes in the soil, spread sand and peat, and apply a complex fertilizer to revive the turf.

Mulching

In addition to the benefits for the lawn, mulching helps solve the problem of how to dispose of grass clippings, as these are simply chopped up finely and spread over the turf.
What is mulching?
In the case of lawns, this is a technique whereby the grass clippings from mowing are used as nutrient for the turf. Thanks to the use of a special blade and a plug that closes off the discharge duct, grass clippings continue to circulate beneath the mower deck when cut. The particles are chopped finer and finer, and spread uniformly over the lawn, decomposing ultimately and acting as a natural fertilizer. With mulching, the lawn benefits from an invaluable application of organic and nutritional substances – also of moisture, to prevent it from drying out – and, last but not least, there are no waste disposal problems.

Lawnmower, brushcutter or garden tractor?

There are three types of equipment offering a complete solution to the various needs encountered in the care of a lawn. In fact, the ability of the turf to flourish will depend not least on the machine used to cut the grass. In practice, the use of the right appliance will make work in the garden more relaxing and pleasurable and bring better results. Here, we look at the best way to go about making a choice.

The brushcutter

An essential item, on any surface near obstructions (low walls, fences, steps, etc.), or where the ground is uneven or on a steep gradient.
This machine is used to cut grass, weeds, brush and scrub in areas not accessible with other machines. Certain brushcutters, when fitted with particular accessories, can also be used for pruning high and low growth on trees and orchard plants, for clipping medium-high hedges and for cultivating small vegetable plots.

The lawnmower

Lawnmowers are adaptable to different types of surface. Simply select the most suitable type from the models available: models for hobbyists (small lawns, gardens), and models for professionals, indispensable when working large areas and on irregular lawns with depressions or ridges. Some models are self-propelling, which makes for greater operator comfort when mowing large expanses, and working on slopes or slightly uneven soils.
If the lawnmower is equipped with a mulching kit, the need to dispose of clippings is largely eliminated, since these are finely fragmented and strewn on the turf, retaining moisture and essential nutrients.

The garden tractor

These offer the ideal solution for large gardens, and
for parkland and public green spaces.
Sturdily built and easy to handle, machines of this type have a small turning circle to simplify manoeuvres in amongst plants and shrubs. They generally have a side or rear outlet duct for connection to a grass catcher. Like lawnmowers, certain models of garden tractor can be converted by means of a simple kit to operate in mulching mode.
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