A resilient Gardener (pt.3)

Lawns. Traditionally gardens are laid to turf with thin borders running around the edges. Ideal for families with children, or with pets needing space to run around. But is this as it should always be?

I spent the first year in our home looking at the garden and what happened throughout the year. Where the sun rises and where it sets. Which parts of the garden catch the early Easterly sun, where the maximum sunshine covers and which areas see the late sun as it sets in the West. Importantly as our area is a very wet area, I needed to know which areas of the garden held the moisture, and how damp that area is.

Our rear garden was laid mainly to lawn however, the was a diagonal strip the was very damp throughout the year. Mowing it was difficult, not just because of the gradient, but also because of the amount of moisture. I resolved to create a planted bed in the centre of the lawn, following this damp are and choosing moisture loving plants such as hydrangea, Iris, Astilbes, Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’, Ferns, Ribes, Primulas, Cornus, Quince, Camassia, and others. My plan was to have these introduced to the area, they would help draw up more of the moisture and allow the remaining lawn to flourish.

It has helped with the moisture and the delight of this planted area as it comes into flower is a wonderful treat.

With this year’s heatwave burning much in the garden, the lawns have also suffered. A close cut just prior to the heat was, in retrospect, not the best of things to do. However, grass is resilient and a combination of raising the blades on the lawnmower to allow the blades of grass to recover – this will continue now as we head towards the autumn months – liquid feeding and we also have rain falling again. The lawns are recovering nicely. I have patches that need reseeding due to a combination of damage by crane-fly larvae which I also need to treat with nematodes, but also die back from our dogs wee! If you water any patches straight away, it should dilute the intensity enough not to cause damage, but it’s not always easy running around with a watering can of water as she marks her territory.

I’m not one of those gardeners who need a manicured lawn, sharp edges and perfect stripes. I do encourage the edges to grow enough to give refuge to frogs and newts and other wildlife. I also grow an area that I cut only twice a year to allow an element of rewilding.

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