VIDEO (Week 2): Maintain your garden with these simple steps

Peter Dowdall outlines the series of simple steps that will deliver a lawn that will star all summer long.

I want a low maintenance garden so maybe not too many shrubs just mostly lawn.

This is something I hear quite often when people ask me to advise them on what to with their plot. What’s wrong with that statement is that lawns are not low maintenance.

In fact I can’t think of any other plant or anything else in the garden that requires attention once a week.

A Lawn can become an addiction, the quest for the perfect putting green finish, all consuming. In fact the lawn is just an area of thousands, maybe millions of little grass plants growing together in one area.

Left to their own devices they will grow away quite happily to flowering stage, set seed and in time weed and wild flower seeds will blow in and germinate. Moss will colonise the soil, bees and other insects will start to call the area home.

That’s when you find yourself the proud owner of a meadow. Weekly mowing, alternating the direction each week, scarifying, regular fertilising and weed control, levelling, fungal treatments, soil inspections, irrigation and monthly planning, pay attention to these and you will be enjoying a croquet lawn all summer long, if you have time to enjoy it that is between the mowing and scarifying.

Whether your patch of grass is a wilderness or manicured says so much about who you are. In theory I love the idea of my lawn being perfect but in practice it never is.

With me and lawns it is truly a case of “do as I say not as I do” for my lawn isn’t the pristine patch of green that I would like it to be.

Nor is it that unkempt however, I do manage to mow it and keep up with some of the maintenance.

“The perfect lawn is simply the lawn that is perfect for you and what you need from it” says David Hedges–Gower the UK’s leading lawn specialist.

David has recently published an easy to follow, very comprehensive guide to caring for your lawn.

I for one am grateful that such a book has been written because there can be so much to take into account and to remember when it comes to lawncare that it is great to have it all to refer to in one book.

He starts at the beginning with a mention of the history of the lawn which comes from the Welsh word laun.

The book goes on then to deal with the different types of grass and where to use them, thatch and how to deal with it, aeration, mowing, nutrition, top dressing, weed control, moss, problems and how to fix them, disease treatment and how to deal with extreme weather conditions.

In short, everything you need to know about creating and maintaining the perfect lawn, whatever that is for you, in this book.

Very often when someone is as passionate and as knowledgeable about their subject as David is on lawns then they can very often go too in depth and “anoraky”.

One of the things I like about Modern Lawn Care is that it is very user friendly. Enough information is contained without there being too much. For example scarifying is explained as the removal of dead matter and moss from the soil surface around the base of the grass plants.

Scarifying should be done at least once a year ideally in the spring which will allow good air circulation around the soil surface, will remove thatch and dead grass and also remove moss.

Scarifying regularly will lead to stronger lawns with less weed and moss problems.

The problem is as David points out in the book is that most of us leave scarifying til the damage has been done and moss has become a problem, in other words it is an “overdue response” and better practice is to scarify as part of annual maintenance and avoid moss and thatch getting a hold in the first place.

It is a lot of work to maintain a good quality lawn but it is rewarding, it is therapy, hours can be lost doing something as seemingly mundane as removing moss and aerating the soil but those hours are better than any hours spent in therapy, more rewarding than time spent at work, the sense of accomplishment after a day spent wheelbarrowing moss to the compost bin and freeing up the soil surface is nearly tangible.

Is it worth all the work and time spent? Yes, yes and again yes for nothing adds as much to a garden as well maintained lawn, the perfect foil to shrub beds and herbaceous borders.

Green is calming and a lush green area in the middle of the garden is so relaxing there is nothing to match it.

I have only referred to the horticultural aspects of lawns and their care, I haven’t even mentioned the lawns in gardens throughout the country that are used as sports grounds for our next generation of superstars so is it any wonder that a certain amount of work is required.

It’s not just the bookshelves of the perfectionists that deserve Modern Lawn Care, no while it might be a step too far to call it a page turner it is however an easy and informative read where the authors passion comes through in every page and whatever lawn you want this book will help you achieve it.


Time now to start off seedlings of many of the summer bedding plants indoors.

Not only will you save yourself money by growing them from seed, you will also find many varieties available in seed but not as plants later in the year.

If you are lucky enough to have a glasshouse or polytunnel then that’s the perfect environment in which to start them off.

If not then if you can spare just enough space for one or two seed trays on a kitchen windowsill then that will be enough to start off hundreds of little seedlings.

Do bear in mind that many of the seed packets will contain enough seeds to supply the whole parish with plants, so if the seed is tiny, like pepper dust, then just use a pinch and grow a variety of different seeds in the one seed tray.


VIDEO (WEEK 4): Ireland’s garden industry is soaring

VIDEO (Week 3): How to protect your plants from infections

VIDEO (Week 2): Maintain your garden with these simple steps

VIDEO (Week 1): The Regal Lily is the Prince among plants

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