While watering the lawn, one must see to it that extra care is taken to drain excess water as any inundation will damage it, says N. CHANDRAMOHAN REDDY
Unless carefully watched about, lawn can easily mess up the garden’s beauty either through overgrowth or through drying out. One should be careful enough to regularly monitor and give the garden a ‘hair-cut’ by manicuring its lawn.
Watering & weeding
Water requirement for lawn depends on the type of grass, season and soil kind. Strong-rooted aggressive grasses require more water than the shallow rooted ones. Sandy soils require more frequent watering than the clay soils. Instead of light sprinkling of water every day, it is always beneficial to have thorough and deep watering during evenings or early in the morning, once in two to five days based on the season and grass species. Watering through sprinkler jets or rose is beneficial to the lawn rather than flooding with hose.
Lawn exposed to direct sun during the entire day requires more water than the lawn area covered partially with shade from buildings or trees. But one has to remember that lawn grass cannot grow profusely under too much of shade. While watering, one must take precaution that the excess water drains away from the lawn as any inundation will damage the lawn grass.
Keeping the lawn weed-free is the most difficult of all the operations. Emergence of weeds will start simultaneously along with the grass establishment. Prevention of weeds is the best method, which can be achieved by eradicating the weeds at the time of bed preparation, selecting grass with strong growth which suits the site condition and by growing the lawn without gaps by following right cultural practices. By regular mowing some of the broad-leaved lawn weeds can be suppressed. But the hardy and strong rooted grass weeds like Nut grass (Cyperus rotundus) are very difficult to eradicate unless their root system is dug out. Care must be taken to remove the weeds before they flower and spread seeds.
Feeding and top dressing
The constant mowing of grass foliage is a serious drain on the nutrient reserves in the soil, so feeding the soil with balanced fertilizer is an essential operation to be undertaken during the growing season. Feeding can be combined with top dressing with addition of sand, along with some organic manure (preferably neem cake) to make up not only the level of lawn (by filling the pits and undulations) but also the nutrient level of the soil.
Mowing & edging
Mowing, which is the most time taking of all the lawn operations, is required periodically to give the lawn good texture and levelled surface. Mow the lawn often but not too closely lest unsightly white patches will appear from overgrown tufts. The length of the grass to be retained and frequency of mowing depend upon many factors such as lawn grass type, soil fertility, intended use and season. During growing season, obviously the mowing frequency should be increased.
It is always better to keep the height of the grass as a guide for deciding the intensity of mowing. Edging, which can be done with long edge shears, means vertical trimming of the lawn sides to have neat appearance and to define the lawn boundary.
Raking & rolling
Raking is undertaken to remove the dead matted grass known as thatch. This operation, which is otherwise known as dethatching, is needed once or twice during the year based on the requirement. Light scraping and making small holes or slits on the lawn bed with rake or garden fork will improve the aeration in the lawn root system. This operation benefits the penetration of water into the soil bed, especially when the lawn is compacted with heavy traffic. Raking or scraping shall be followed by top dressing with coarse sand to fill the depressions.
Rolling with hand roller will firm up and level the surface of lawn. Also the frequency of mowing can be reduced by rolling the lawn especially in case of the tough grasses like Zoysias. Roll the lawn when the soil is moist but the grass is dry.
The light and dark bands (Zebra stripes) on lawn (generally seen on the sports fields) can be tried on the large flat lawns for the aesthetic appeal.
These bands can be achieved by mowing and rolling the parallel stripes in such a way that alternate stripes are mowed and rolled in opposite direction.
Pests & diseases
Like any other plant, lawn grass is also susceptible to pests and diseases of various kinds. In most of the cases these problems can be prevented or eradicated by following the common pest management practices. Usually, spraying of chemical pesticides is avoided on lawns to prevent hazardous environment for the people and pets.
(Author is Additional Commissioner (Urban Biodiversity) in GHMC and can be contacted on: nchandramohanreddy@