The Tribune - Spectrum


, May 5, 2002
Garden Life

For picture-perfect lawns
Satish Narula

A cat-paw walk helps prevent treading on the grass
A cat-paw walk helps prevent treading on the grass

IF the landscape of the house is like a beautiful painting then the lawn is the canvas. At a time when most people live in apartments, the lawn has become a prized possession. A lush green lawn dotted with various landscape features is a luxury not available to all.

However nicely you have planned your garden and whatever exotic plants you have, if the lawn is not good, the entire effort will be wasted. Remember bad features attract more attention than attractive ones. It is, therefore, of utmost importance to have a good lawn. Now is a good time to lay the lawn afresh or replant the grass.

Those who are planning to replant know very well that a lawn infested with weeds is more of a headache than a pleasure. It is not easy to get rid of perennial weeds like dila or motha that have deep roots. Broad leaf weeds can be controlled with the use of chemicals but dila etc. have to be physically removed. An overgrowth of such weeds necessitates replanting. In order to minimise this problem, it is necessary to remove as many weeds as possible at the time of laying a fresh lawn.

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At this time of the year when the sun is as its fiercest best, the soil should be dug as deep as possible (one-to-1 ft) and left open for about 10 days. The weed roots thus exposed should be hand picked. This process of digging, exposing and picking of roots should be repeated as often as possible. Such an exercise will also help in getting rid of the insects breeding underground. You can add about three and a half kilogram each of superphosphate and muriate of potash in an area of 100 sq mts. This should be thoroughly mixed with soil before planting the grass.

As the monsoon draws near, the soil should be levelled following the natural gradient away from the building. The land should be watered to see if it is level and any depressions or elevations should be corrected. Watering will also allow the weeds to emerge and these should be physically removed. The surface of the soil should be as smooth as a table top. The planting of the lawn should ultimately be done with the onset of rains.

Grass can be planted keeping a distance of four inches between two plants. Immediately after planting, a roller can be used to compact the soil. The grass grows best on sunny locations and the difficult-to-maintain areas should be landscaped with ground cover plants.

Among the grass varieties that you could select are Calcutta Grass, Korean or Nilgiri grass or the selection No 1, the latest introduction. Whereas the former and the latter form excellent soft turfs, the Korean grass is not liked by many because of its piercing blades and tuft formation if the lawn is not mowed for a few days. The grass within the turf dries because air and water do not reach it. When mowing is finally done you get yellow and brown patches.

The broad-leaved weeds in the lawn can be controlled by spraying 2,4D (sodium salt). Remember, this chemical kills all broad-leaved flora and if it falls on adjoining plants it could harm them, too. So be very careful and spray on a calm day keeping the nozzle close to the grass.

Do not add farmyard manure to the lawn, otherwise you will spend three-fourths of your gardening time on removing weeds.