Tree canopies, thickets of shrubs, heavy climbers and creepers join together to give that verdant appeal to a forest. But a garden cannot afford to be as wild as a forest. What plays a major role in any garden plot getting admired for the lushness is undoubtedly its lawn. Lawn turf is nothing but tiny grass plants planted in close spacing, intensively manicured and trimmed to a certain height to look like a carpet. Lawn is an essential feature of any garden. Though smooth and soothing to look at, lawn is the most difficult part in a garden for establishing as well as for maintaining. For every step of lawn development - selection of right lawn grass species, bed preparation, planting, feeding, watering, weeding, mowing, edging and other operations - one needs to have basic knowledge. Lack of necessary knowhow and skill leads to ill-maintained lawn - an eyesore in the garden. There are multiple uses of having a lawn as part of the garden, the first and foremost being its aesthetic appeal. The land turfed with lawn grass creates dust-free environment and retains the shape of the landscape by preventing soil erosion. Quick garden can be achieved by turfing. Turfing is used in diverse locations like playfields, parks, party areas, homesteads, street-scaping and also for creating foreground or back ground for garden plants or other features of a garden.

Location, shape and level

Intended use, and affordability in terms of time, water and resources will help the property owner determine the lawn’s size, shape, level and location. Shape and extent of the lawn must be decided during the planning stage. It can be a presentation lawn for display in small extent or an area to walk or sit or play or relax on or it can be an extension of the living room or back yard. Flat lawn is easier to establish and maintain as the operations like mowing and watering are difficult in the heavy slopes.

Based on the utility and availability of light, many choices of lawn grass species are available (details are shown in the table). However growing grass in deep shade is not possible. In the shaded areas within in the lawn, especially underneath the trees, it is advisable to use mulch material to avoid unsightly patches devoid of lawn.

Preparation of bed is the first and important step in making a lawn. The bed should be of five to six inches thick with fertile soil and adequate drainage. Any stagnation of water in the bed will ruin the lawn grass, so mild slope should be provided for proper drainage. Farmyard manure consisting of seeds of various plant species is avoided during the bed formation to prevent emergence of weeds. Using more sand in the bed and addition of organic material like leaf mould and neem cake will not only improve the soil aeration and fertility but also increase the hardiness of lawn against trampling, by reducing the compaction. Any type of lawn grass can be established in three different ways - seeding, dibbling and sodding. Sowing of the seed is the first method when seed of the particular variety is available. We can avoid initial weed problems by this seed broadcasting method. But in India seeds of lawn-grass varieties are not available, and hence this method is not so popular here. In the second method the slips of grass along with roots or internodes can be collected from an existing weed free lawn and dibbled at close spacing in the loose and wet soil and over a period of time the grass establishes and spreads to form a thick carpet. The third and popular method is to turf the soil with grass mats (sods) of different sizes but uniform thickness. It is applicable where readymade lawn grass is needed.

N. Chandramohan Reddy

(Author is Additional Commissioner (Urban Biodiversity) in GHMC and can be contacted on: nchandramohanreddy@

gmail.com)

(Next week: Lawn problem

and maintenance)