garden life
Rolling greens
Kiran Narain

A lush green lawn is the focal point in a garden
A lush green lawn is the focal point in a garden

A well-laid and properly maintained lawn makes the most attractive feature of a garden: restful to the eyes and an admirable foil to plants. An open sunlit site is the best for lawns, though well-nurtured grass will grow in partial shade too. The ground for a lawn may be landscaped in level, sloping or gently undulating form—but must allow easy mowing as well as good drainage.

At this time of the year when the sun is at its fiercest in the plains of North India, the soil should be dug as deep as possible, say 1 to 1`BD feet, and left open for about 10 days. The weed roots, thus exposed, should be pulled out. The process of digging, exposure to sun and picking of weed roots should be repeated as often as possible as it will help in getting rid of weeds, insects breeding underground and at the same time enrich soil.

A light to medium porous loam, overlaying a well-drained sub-soil is ideal which may be enriched with 3.5 kg each of super phosphate and muriate of potash in an area of 100 sq metres, which should be thoroughly mixed with soil before planting the grass. Avoid adding farmyard manure to lawns or else you may have to deal with excessive weeds and termites the rest of the time.

Prior to sowing or planting, the soil must be consolidated and firmed either by allowing it to settle down on its own or using a compact roller, raking and repeating—keeping the natural gradient away from the building. The land should be watered to see if it is level and depressions or elevations, if any, should be corrected. Watering will also allow the weeds to grow up which can then be removed physically.

Even though the grass planted in early summer provides an attractive and compact turf, it should be undertaken only if you have assured irrigation facilities. In case of absence of assured irrigation, the digging, levelling and the de-weeding process can be carried out in May-June and the planting in the middle of July, after the monsoon has set in.

The most common grass planted in our lawns is Calcutta grass, also known as doob. The planting can either be done by sowing grass seeds or by dibbling grass cuttings, roots or their runners in the well-prepared soil. However, the latter is most commonly used and is most effective. Small grass roots should be planted about 10 to 15 cm apart, in a well-prepared soil. Immediately after planting, the lawn should be irrigated. Frequent watering is required till the roots establish.

Besides Calcutta grass another good variety known as Korean grass or the latest variety Nilgiri grass or selection No. 1 are also available with some nurseries. However, many because of its piercing blades and tuft formation do not like the Korean grass if the lawn is not mowed for a few days.

Carpet grass for tufting gives instant results that are laid like carpets or brick work – working from one end to another. Adding or taking away soil from beneath the carpet does levelling. A top dressing of coarse sand may be brushed into the joints. This method is generally adopted by professionals for immediate results and is rather expensive.

Low temperatures and frost in winters adversely affect lawns. To keep the lawn dark green during winter months, the application of a liquid manure of DAP and neem cake at the rate of 200 gm, 500 gm respectively dissolved in 20 litres of water in an area of 100 sq ft is necessary at regular intervals from November to February as also frequent irrigation before sunset or early in the mornings to keep frost at bay.

In order to maintain a lawn, which is smooth, weed-free and green, it will require regular attention and skills. Regular de-weeding, mowing, rolling, dressings with fertilisers and irrigation should ensure lasting beauty from the lawns.