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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Summer 2002
John Cushnie On...

Low Maintenance Lawns
16 Dec 2003

'There is no such thing as low maintenance lawns' you complain. I can at least suggest ways to make the management of the lawn easier reducing the time, trouble and effort required. The first job is to sit down with pencil and paper and list the problems and which operations take most time.

Do you have to use two types of machinery to cut the grass? A mower and perhaps a strimmer to cut close to vertical objects such as walls and poles. Have you too much grass? Whether you reduce the amount to be cut or eliminate the lawn is a big decision and needs careful thought. A well maintained lawn is undoubtedly an asset but if it requires a lot of time it may eventually fall into decline.

There are lots of small changes which can be made to make life easier. Foliage which overhangs the lawn can be a real nuisance. Tree and shrub branches get in the way of the lawn mower and even perennials which are planted too close to the edge of the bed hang down and kill off the grass. Either remove the grass from under the trees by forming a flower bed or remove the lower branches. This will allow you to cut the
grass without bumping your head.

Widen the bed to allow the perennials to grow without encroaching onto the lawn. Where there are tight curves and small, right angled corners of grass that are difficult to cut then the lawn or bed can be reshaped to eliminate them.

It is difficult to cut grass which is growing up against a wall or service pole. This often results in a strimmer being used to tidy the long grass. A simple solution is to form an edging by removing a narrow strip of grass but then this has to be constantly edged. An alternative and more permanent answer is to remove a 4 inch wide strip of grass 3
inches deep and replace it with concrete flush with the grass. A brick edging is attractive and quicker to lay but weed seedlings may grow up between the joints. If you do decide to reduce the size of the lawn be careful not to replace it with another labour intensive feature. Planted beds should be surfaced with landscape fabric and bark
mulch to reduce the risk of weeds.

This is the ideal time to deal with wet areas of grass where drainage is the only solution. Make sure there is a fall to the outlet to allow water to drain properly. Next summer you will have time to sit on the lawn and relax.

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