Preparing your lawn for a summer party
If you are planning a party in your garden this summer, here’s how to prepare your lawn for the extra wear and tear.
We all love a good wedding. Friends and families getting together to eat, drink, swap stories and celebrate. Where better to host the celebrations than in your own garden? Maybe with a marquee on hand though just in case you need to shelter from the Scottish weather.
Feet and furniture will be your main challenges – and possible spillages. Make sure the surface is firm enough for high heels to walk on and smooth enough not to trip anyone who is wobbly on their feet. Move furniture as soon as possible after the party so as not to kill the lawn and try to wash spillages away as soon as they happen.
Level out the surface
The last thing you need at a party is for somebody to turn an ankle or take a tumble because of holes or hillocks in the lawn.
So well in advance of the big event, you need to fill in any holes with some really good topsoil and then sprinkle a little grass seed on top. Keep the seed watered and protect in from birds and if the weather is warm enough you’ll soon see a green fuzz appearing. Within weeks no one will be able to tell where the repairs were.
What to do with weeds in the lawn
If you have enough time before the party – and I mean weeks not days, you could go all out to sort out the weeds. If you only have days to go, then in all honesty, it’s better to turn a blind eye. Obviously things like thistles or prickles will have to be dug out – nobody wants to sit on one of those – but daisies and clover – even moss won’t hurt.
Depending on the percentage of weeds to grass you might want to use a chemical weed killer to bring your lawn back to perfection. These take time to work and you may end up with bare patches where the weeds once lived – so give yourself plenty of time to reinstate the grass.
If your lawn is really weedy and you really hate it, it’s quicker and easier to dig it up and lay new turf. A newly turfed lawn can be ready to use within 3 -6 weeks (depending on the time of year)
Make sure your grass is healthy before the event
It’s a good idea to aerate your lawn a few weeks before the event so that the roots can get plenty of oxygen and grow as strong as possible. Some people suggest using a garden fork to push holes deep into the lawn - I disagree. That tends to compact the soil. Use a hollow-tine aerator - it's the proper tool for the job. The hand-tool versions are not too expensive to buy online - or you can hire a mechanical one from most tool hire shops.
Also feeding. Apply a feed every 6 weeks between March and August. Your lawn needs to be well nourished if it is to withstand a high amount of wear and tear.
Choose a good quality lawn feed, make sure it's the correct formulation for the time of year and apply it exactly as the manufacturer suggests.
The single most important thing you can do to get your lawn looking fabulous is to keep your mower blades clean and sharp.
The most important thing you can do to help your lawn survive the onslaught of a party, is raise the blades on your lawn mower.
Longer grass is a lot more resilient than a closely shaved lawn. It has a deeper green colour, looks lusher and copes better with wear and tear. 2.5 cm or 1 inch is a good length for a summer time lawn.
Once your lawn is well established, it shouldn't need watering. In fact I'm not a fan of watering the lawn at all - water is a precious resource and it seems a waste to pour it on to plants that can survive very well without it.
If your lawn turns brown in high summer, it will recover. It might not look beautiful but it's OK. If you need it to be green and vibrant, start working weeks ahead of the event by raising the height of your mower, aerating the soil and feeding the lawn - that will preserve the greenness a bit longer.
New turf, should of course be watered.
Mow little and often
If you want to build strength in your lawn and create a lovely thick sward you need to mow little and often. Twice a week if you can. You don’t need to scalp the grass – that will stress the plants. Just nip the top off the grass blades – that will encourage more blades to grow up from the crown of the plant. Remove the clippings and put them on the compost heap.
The number 1 rule for creating a beautiful lawn is
Keep your mower blades clean and sharp.
Brush blades down every time you put the mower away, sharpen them at least once a month and keep your mower in tip top condition – it’s your most important weapon against an ugly lawn.