Ever wanted to get your lawn looking like Augusta National? Of course you have. But while the world's most famous golf club has greenkeeping equipment worth millions of dollars, what can you do with your wee mower?
We spoke to a man in the know - Simon Doyle, the Director of Agronomy for golf course management company for Troon Golf in Europe - who shared five key steps for you to get a lawn your neighbours will be envious of.
Step 1: Drainage
Drainage is without doubt one of the most important aspects. Make sure your soil is free draining and that there are no lows in your lawn where water can build up and hold. You don’t want holding water. If there are lows, you’ve got two options: You can install a subsurface drain that would involve trenching out the water or, if you just have a slight low, you can build that up with a soil and sand medium to raise it and shed the water. If water lies, it removes the oxygen from the soil and the plant suffers. The plant needs a good balance of moisture and oxygen.
Step 2: Sunlight
Look at the bushes and trees around your garden. If they’re blocking sunlight, it’s a problem for your lawn. To get around this, you need to either thin them, raise the crowns or remove them. Trees and bushes should be there to enhance your lawn, not take away from it, so you have to find that balance. Also, make sure that you always remove plant material and leaves lying on your lawn so that the grass has the best possible chance of growing.
Step 3: Mowing
If you don’t mow frequently enough, you lose density and this leads to the biggest problem for a lot of homeowners: weeds. The more regularly you mow your lawn, the thicker it gets, significantly reducing the potential for weeds to move in. That’s critical. Don’t go to herbicides to remove weeds unless you’ve done the fundamental steps as it’s really not preferred for your lawn. During a peak growing season, you should mow twice a week - at the very least, once a week - if you want to maintain a high quality lawn. In the winter, it’s tough because the climate is changing. If you mow it and it looks better afterwards, then it needs to be cut.
Step 4: Growth
You need to make sure it’s growing enough. For example, if you only need to mow your lawn once a month, it’s not growing enough. That’s a good test. You want it to be growing enough so you’re removing grass clippings when you mow on a twice-weekly basis. To achieve this, the best place to start is an early spring fertiliser application. This can be an organic product that gives you a slow release over time because a big concern of homeowners is the effects of a fertiliser when you have kids or pets going about.
Step 5: Don’t water
You shouldn’t water your lawn until you start to see symptoms of drought; where it turns a bluey-grey colour before going a yellowish-brown. Don’t water until you see that. Why? There’s a tendency to over-water and you want to avoid that at all costs. There’s also no need to re-turf. That’s the last thought in my mind. If you follow these five steps, you’ll have a pretty damn good looking lawn.