Having a healthy, luscious piece of lawn in the front or back garden is what every homeowner dreams of, especially if you have a lot of people passing by that can see. I mean, who doesn't want to be the envy of the neighbourhood, right? Well, in order to achieve the lawn of dreams, you need to know how grass works and the best ways to make it grow. If you don't, you'll soon realise that your dreams of a green meadow are quickly turned to brown waste. So, exactly does grass need to live and how can you ensure that your lawn doesn't die out? Lawn & Weed Expert are here to help!

Read on to find out what your grass needs to live and how you can help to achieve the lawn that you've always wanted.

grass

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Freshly-laid lawn can make any property stand out, adding some much-needed kerb appeal that enhances the look of your home. However, sometimes you may wake up to the unsightly look of mushrooms and toadstools all over your grass, which can send you south pretty quickly.

There's no need to panic though, as mushrooms and toadstools are a common feature of many lawns during the right time of year and they are pretty easy to get rid of. If you've walked out onto your lawn to a new gathering of mushrooms and toadstool and want to know how to remove them, you've come to the right place!

Read on to find out more...

lawn mushrooms

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Did you know that since the turn of the century, the number of hedgehogs in the UK has fallen by nearly 50 per cent!? A 2018 report found that the population of hedgehogs in England, Wales and Scotland is now at one million, in comparison to three million in the 1950s. That is a drastic fall in such a short amount of time but it's not too late to start making a difference. 

There are a number of things that you can (and can't do) in order to make your garden a safe haven for hedgehogs where they can come, relax and hopefully reproduce in safety to get the numbers back on the up! 

Here we will outline some of these things you can do to create a hedgehog-friendly space and help the cute, spiky creatures around your neighbourhood. 

hedgehog in garden

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Have you ever seen a gorgeous pattern on a lawn or pitch and wondered just how people manage to create them? Yeah, us too! Seeing a person's lawn with beautifully cut stripes is enough to make the whole street filled with envy, but you don't have to wonder anymore and it's pretty easy to do. Here is Lawn & Weed Expert's guide to getting stripes in your lawn. 

stripes on lawn

The stripes that you see on lawns are simply a result of light reflecting off the grass blades in a particular direction. One row of grass will be facing away from you whilst the other is facing towards you in a lush, uniform fashion that makes your lawn fabulously stand out.

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During the autumn months, keeping your lawn healthy can be a big task due to several common lawn diseases. In order to prevent major damage being caused to your lawn as a result of these diseases, it's imperative that you're able to identify, diagnose and treat the diseases as quickly as possible. Here, we go through some of the most common autumn lawn diseases and offer some advice on how is best to avoid them, saving you a lot of time and money in the long run.

autumn lawn diseases

Signs & symptoms of autumn lawn diseases 

During the hotter summer months, it's completely normal for your lawn to look a bit off-colour. However, when autumn comes along, the grass on your lawn should start to green-up again nicely. A healthy lawn will be a uniform colour with no bare bits and no odd-coloured patches. If the sward does contain discoloured spots, then there's a pretty good chance that your lawn has fallen victim to one of the common autumn lawn diseases. Typically these diseases have been confined to the autumn and winter months but their seasons are starting to expand as our winters become milder. So, despite us looking mainly at autumn diseases, be sure to take the information away and keep an eye on your lawn all year round. 

So, let's take a look a the different autumn lawn diseases you are likely to come across!

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Coarse grass can quickly overrun fine turf, making it look patchy and spoiling the appearance of your lawn. These grasses are not easy to control, and they can take over large areas of your lawn if you allow them to do so.

Want to learn more about coarse grass in your lawn and what you can do about it? Read on!

Coarse grass

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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Mowing the lawn

Mowing your lawn may seem like a simple and straightforward task, but there are a lot of things to think about. Like most plants, if you cut off the growing point on grass, it can branch out and become denser, which results in a tightly-woven turf. If you never cut your grass, on the other hand, it can begin to look more like a prairie rather than a garden lawn.

The act of mowing isn't what makes your lawn look good - the mowing height and mowing frequency is what determines how healthy and how attractive your lawn looks.

Not sure how to mow a lawn? Never done it before? Here's our step-by-step guide...

 

1. Invest in a good lawnmower.

First things first: in order to mow your lawn properly, you will need to invest in a lawnmower that is up to snuff. If you buy and use a lawnmower that isn't good enough, the reality is that you will not get good results back, especially not in the time required.

A good lawn mower will cut your grass quickly and cleanly, and will not require a lot of maintenance to keep it running efficiently. There are several quality lawn mowers available on the market. Be sure to conduct thorough research before purchasing your lawnmower - ask questions and read reviews. This should give you a pretty good idea of whether the mower is good enough.

 

2. Begin with sharp blades.

One of the most common mistakes people make when mowing the lawn is using tired, dull mower blades rather than sharp ones. Sharp blades result in clean cuts and last for longer, whereas dull blades can only tear the grass, not cut it. When the grass is torn, it becomes stressed as its roots begin to get pulled out and the uncut part of the grass blade is harmed. If you're wondering how to mow a lawn effectively, ensure your blades are as sharp as can be.

 

3. Mow a little bit at a time.

Many people use the 'one third' rule when it comes to mowing their lawn: you should only cut off one-third of your grass's length when mowing in order to prevent the grass from straining. Of all the tips on how to mow a lawn, this is one of the most important.

You should aim to cut as little as possible off at any given time. There's a reason why the top golf courses and football pitches in the world are cut multiple times a week. The less grass you cut off, the stronger, the denser and the less stressed the grass will become. To make things a little easier on your part, here is a rough guide to the cutting heights you should be aiming for depending on the type of grass in your garden:

  • Bahiagrass, blue grama, buffalo grass or tall fescue: 2 to 3 inches
  • Bentgrass: 0.25 to 1 inch
  • Common Bermuda grass: 0.75 to 1.5 inches
  • Hybrid Bermudagrass: 0.5 to 1 inch
  • Centipede grass or zoysia grass: 1 to 2 inches
  • Fine fescue or St Augustine grass: 1.5 to 2.5 inches
  • Kentucky bluegrass: 1.75 to 2.5 inches
  • Annual and perennial ryegrass: 1.5 to 2 inches

 

4. Switch up your cutting patterns.

There are two types of pattern you can use when mowing your lawn. The first is back and forth - here you start at one side of your lawn, mow until you reach the other side and then come back. This is by far the most common cutting pattern, and it's the best pattern to use when mowing rectangular, standard lawns.

The second pattern is more of a circular one, which is often used with oddly-shaped gardens or those that have trees or flowerbeds in the centre. Here, you start by mowing your lawn in a circle, working your way outwards or inwards.

No matter which pattern you choose, be sure to alternate which way you go. If you use the first method and start left and mow right, the next time you mow, start right and mow to the left. This will help your grass to stay vertical and prevent it from beginning to lean one way.

 

5. Use a mulching blade.

Mulching blades are a type of mowing blade which are designed to chop up grass clippings into little pieces so they can fall down into the lawn, decompose and provide fertiliser. Whilst most lawns still need extra fertiliser on top of this, applying grass clippings can be a massive help.

 

6. Mow over your clippings.

When decided which direction and pattern to mow in, you want to be mowing over the clippings produced in your previous cut. This causes the clipping to be cut up even finer, which means faster decomposition into fertiliser. However, it is important to change mowing patterns so that one side of your lawn doesn't receive more fertiliser than the other.

 

7. Never mow your lawn wet.

Here's a simple but crucial thing to remember: never mow your lawn when it is wet. This is because you are more likely to get ruts in your lawn, cutting unevenly and clumping up grass. It's better to play it safe and mow your lawn when it is dry. This is particularly true with a new lawn, where the grass doesn't have the deeper root system that an established lawn would have.

Regardless of the type of lawn you have in your garden, mowing your grass is one of the most important things you can do for a healthy lawn. If you follow the above steps, you will be a whole lot closer to achieving that lush lawn you've always dreamed of and one that your neighbours wish they had.

For more information on how to mow a lawn, get in touch with the lawn care professionals here at Lawn & Weed Expert today!

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Water on grass

Grass doesn't need to be watered as much as other plants. It enters a state of inactivity when moisture reaches a critical level, then resumes growth once it receives water again.

There are several other sound reasons for choosing not to water your grass, including when costs are high, when reservoirs are not being adequately replenished or when watering may do more harm than good.

On the other hand, there are several reasons why watering your grass might be a good idea after all - for example, if a wet surface is required for games and young children, or if you've undertaken some form of renovation and need to promote recovery. At other times, you may just need a light watering to soak moss before applying a ferrous sulphate-based moss killer or as part of a seeding/turfing process.

Whatever your reasons, you're still likely to ask yourself the question 'how often should I water my grass?' from time to time. And below, we try to help answer!

 

Watering your lawn

In short, you should water your grass when it tells you to, not according to some random plan. Your soil and grass type and exposure to sun and wind are just a few factors that will determine how often you need to be watering your grass. The level of fertiliser present in your grass may also have an impact on water levels, as an adequately fertilised lawn will tend to tolerate dry spells better than one lacking the required nutrients. This might mean some lawns require watering once a week, whilst others may only need water once a month in the exact same weather conditions.

Common signs to look out for that indicate your grass requires water are:

  • A change in colour with your grass becoming dull
  • Grass losing its 'bounce' with footprints remaining in the lawn once stepped on

 

How much water should I use?

You should try to water your grass deeply each time. Aim for at least half an inch for clay soils and an inch for sandy soils. An easy way to work this out is to place a few straight containers into your sprinkler to catch some water. Time the process until there is the required amount of water in the container so you'll know how long you need to water for. If you're on a water meter, there's no need to worry, as watering your grass for the required time and amount should still be affordable.

 

When should I water my grass?

Try to avoid watering your grass at night, as this promotes disease. The best time to water is before the heat of the day so that the lawn has enough time to dry before nightfall. You can set your sprinkler (if you have them) to turn on from 4 am to early afternoon on most days, even sunny ones. If the temperature gets above 24°C, however, then you should turn the water off. Also, if you have a disease on your lawn, such as red thread and fusarium, watering it can make it worse. So, be sure to inspect your lawn before you consider heavy watering.

 

How often should I water my lawn?

Watering your grass too little, too often or at the incorrect times promotes weeds, disease, moss, weed grasses and shallow rooting. Therefore, it is important to understand when and how often to water your grass because you may be doing more harm than good. Sometimes, soil becomes very hard to re-wet once it has dried out as a result of a fungal condition such as dry patch. By using a wetting agent, you can aid water penetration and retention in most circumstances.

We hope this blog has helped to answer your question of how often to water grass. For more information on how often you should water your lawn or to speak to one of our lawn care specialists regarding your lawn, please get in touch with us today.

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Waterlogged Lawn

If there’s one thing that us Brits know what to deal with, it’s rain, rain and more rain.

Unfortunately for us, we are more than used to our fair share of the wet stuff, so have become accustomed to working and living through it, especially our lawns. This often results in puddles and damp patches, known as waterlogging, that prevent us from taking part in our favourite garden past times, sports or simply enjoying the outdoors.

 

What causes a waterlogged lawn?

Waterlogged lawns occur when water builds up as a result of excessive rain and is unable to drain away or dry up, which can present a number of problems. Firstly, the presence of water itself can inhibit the supply of oxygen to the grassroots, which in turn can impact the health of the lawn. Second, waterlogged lawns can prevent carbon dioxide in the air from diffusing. The functionality of the grassroots is decreased or halted completely as they start to diminish, which allows the invasion of rot and decay organisms to take place. Thirdly, essential nutrients found within the lawn can be leached out which results in hungry, deprived soil as well as serious compaction. The lawn itself can also thin out, creating an environment where thatch and moss will pitch-in to the new gaps and thrive in the damper conditions.

 

Preventing a waterlogged lawn

To prevent your lawn from becoming waterlogged in the event of a severe downpour, there are a number of steps that you can take. The main method of prevention, however, is to regularly aerate your lawn. This allows plenty of drainages and air to reach deep into the soil. The best form of aeration for this type of work is known as ‘hollow tine aeration’ as this creates optimum airflow and drainage to the lower levels of soil. Once the lawn has been aerated, you can then re-seed to allow seeds the opportunity to germinate and create a thicker, more complex root system.

It’s important to observe your lawn during patches of rain in order to identify problem areas. These may occur as a result of uneven patches where the water has nowhere to drain. To counter this, be sure to level out uneven patches and aerate to prevent waterlogging from happening.

 

Dealing with a waterlogged lawn

  • Short-term solutions – If your waterlogged lawn was caused by flooding, the first things you can do to rectify it is to wash down hard surfaces and pick up debris to prevent drains from being blocked, allowing a steady flow of water to remove pollutants. Try to avoid stepping on the soil, as doing so will compact the lawn and make the conditions worse. Remove any damaged shoots from affected grass plants. If the waterlogging has occurred during the spring, you can apply a balanced fertiliser to improve growth.
  • Long-term solutions – If you have serious waterlogged lawns, we suggest you try to improve the soil structure and drainage system. The most popular drainage systems are known as land drains and French drains. Both of these consist of a trench or series of trenches that are dug into the lawn and lined with a porous film. The trench is then filled with graded stone before being topped off with topsoil so that the relaid turf on the surface returns to being level and even with the rest of the lawn.

The difference between the two types of drains is that a land drain also has a pipe which is often perforated, attached along its length to transport excess water away faster and more efficiently. In both cases, the trenches are dug at a shallow angle in order for the water to flow along the trench by gravity to a strategically-placed soakaway. From here, it is guided to disperse harmlessly underground. The purpose of the porous film is to filter out silt from any water that is washed into the trench. If this filtration didn’t exist, both types of drains can easily become clogged with silt and become overwhelmed with the water they aim to funnel away.

 

Are you experiencing a waterlogged lawn? Do you require professional help to even out or aerate your lawn? Be sure to get in touch with the expert lawn care team here at Lawn & Weed Expert today by filling out our lawn survey!

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Did you know that the types of plants and flowers that are planted in your garden can have an effect on the wildlife that you find coming and going? Well, they can! By choosing the right plants, you can provide both food and shelter for certain wildlife, especially birds. So, if you’d like your garden to be a nature hotspot, try adding these plants to attract different species of birds.

 

The best plants to attract birds

 

Ivy (Hedera)

The best plant for attracting wild bird is common wild ivy as it is the most wildlife-friendly plant, however, it does need to be managed. Common ivy provides UK birds with dense cover for nesting sites, nectar and winter berries, perfect for the colder winter months. Ivy also attracts insects, which are perfect for attracting birds as these act as food. Plant ivy on a shady wall or on an old tree and let mother nature take over. Its stems cling tightly to the tree bark so once it begins to grow, there is no need to train it or tie it down. Ivy usually grows up to four metres and is the perfect place for tree sparrows.

 

Sunflower (Helianthus)

Sunflowers are not only loved by young children and teachers but birds too! The plentiful seeds that are closely packed at the centre of beautifully bright coloured petals provide and oil-rich nourishment through the autumn months for nuthatches, finches, long-tailed tits and other seed-eating birds. As sunflowers come in all sizes and a variety of colour, they make the ideal plant for attracting birds in any sized garden. Choose sunflowers that have the largest flower heads, as these will produce and contain the most seed. Leave the plants to stand in the autumn or cut off the heads and tie them to a fence and watch the birds come flocking.

 

Teasel (Dipsacus)

Teasel is a tall architectural plant that you can find in the wildlife gardening area of the plant centre or on the seed shelves. This plant form unmissable seedheads in the early autumn which can often last right up to December, depending on weather conditions. Teasel first attracts butterflies, but later it’s the seed heads that start to attract birds, namely finches, sparrows and buntings. Once you plant teasels, new plants will grow from the seeds that the birds miss, so you won’t have to worry about planting anymore yourself.

 

Rambling Rose (Rosa multiflora)

A rambling rose is ideal for those that have space to spare in their gardens. They provide masses of beautiful summer colours of cream, white and pink, perfect for that picturesque aesthetic. The flowers themselves are small, but they do grow in big clusters, which is why space is essential when this plant is around. The beautiful flowers are followed huge amounts of rose hips which are loved by so many birds during the winter. Rambling rose also provides excellent places for birds to nest and protect themselves from cats, birds of prey and most other things that mother nature tends to throw their way. Be cautious, however, as this plant can grow up to seven metres long.

 

Firethorn (Pyracantha)

Firethorn is loved by birds, especially thrushes and blackbirds. Its thorny evergreen shrubs with creamy white flowers and autumn berries provide the perfect shelter, protection and nourishment. And there’s something about the way its branches grow that attracts birds to make their nests. So, not only is firethorn a great choice for gardens looking to fill in an empty space but it also great for nesting birds!

 

And there you have it, the best plants to attract birds in the UK! If you’re hoping to bring some more wildlife to your garden in the form of our flying little friends, be sure to plant any of these and watch the birds start to flock.

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