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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Winter 2004
John Cushnie On...

1 October 2005

LawnA lawn could never be described as low maintenance gardening but there are ways to reduce the time spent cutting the grass. If you have to use two mowers or a mower and a strimmer to leave a finished job then there is something wrong.

I hate corners. You have to twist and turn with the mower to get them cut. Next time you cut swing the mower round in a curve. The grass that isn’t cut should be eliminated by either laying slabs, gravel or other hard surface. Where it is beside a flower bed incorporate the offending piece of lawn into the bed.

Gentle sweeping curves look good and are east to cut without having to change direction. Tight curves will force the front wheels of a ride-on mower to go off the lawn damaging the edge of the bed.

lawn cutterSmall specimen trees planted in the lawn can be managed providing a 3 ft circle of bare soil is kept around the base of the tree. Where grass is allowed to grow up to the trunk the mower will, from time to time, hit the tree damaging the bark and the mower as well. Never use a strimmer close to the base of trees as it will flail off the bark.

Overhanging branches are a nuisance when cutting. Mature trees, especially evergreens, will prevent grass growing or leave ir sparse and patchy under the canopy.

The lawn should be stopped short of other obstacles such as electricity and telephone poles, walls and fences. Where a vertical surface meets the grass there is a strip that cannot be cut with the mower. A mowing strip, where the grass is replaced with a line of concrete, tiles or bricks, will solve the problem. Alternatively a strip of bare soil can be maintained but it will need to be kept weeded and edged.

MulchSteep banks are difficult to maintain and where a grass cutter is used the whole operation can be dangerous. The best option is to spray off the bank and plant it with ground covering plants to consolidate the soil and prevent weeds growing. Banks forming a gentle slope can be mulched with bark to reduce the risk of weeds. Ground hugging plants include many junipers and cotoneasters as well as periwinkle, ajuga and helianthemum, the rock rose.

The surfaces of paths and stepping stones through the lawn should be at the same level as the grass to allow the mower to cut over the top.

Bulbs can be naturalized in short grass. Use early flowering dwarf bulbs such as crocus, fritillaria and snowdrops that have less bulky foliage than daffodils and will be dying down by the time grass cutting is in full swing.

Movable play equipment allows the grass to be cut without leaving unsightly areas at the base of the items.

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