Back to Basics

 

As we bask in the unseasonably, consistent warm weather of late, now is the time to take on those larger ‘projects’ you have been putting off.

 

dandelion-weed

 

As we pass the halfway point of UK National Gardening week, it’s time to tackle some of those less enjoyable garden tasks like weeding. Those of us who ignored our gardens over winter (and maybe longer) might now be looking at a jungle behind the house, as greenery all around us starts its spring growth spurt. Here’s some helpful information to get your lawn summer ready.

Mow Responsibly!

 

You may be tempted to set your mower blade to give your lawn the closest cut you can, but doing so could run the risk of scalping your lawn. ‘Scalping’ is the act of cutting the grass to the point that the stems are exposed, which weakens the grass blades. In the long run this could lead to disease as the grass is more susceptible, but in the short term, scalping a lawn exposes the soil and could allow weeds to take root and grow.

 

grass-cutting-picture

 

If you are dealing with long grass, best practice is to give your lawn several shorter trims rather than one big cut. It might take 3 or 4 attempts to get your long grass to the perfect length, but putting the extra effort in will lead to a healthier lawn in the long term.

Weeding out the Weeds

 

It’s not just your grass that might have grown a bit unwieldy, but also any lurking weeds. Unless dealt with properly, weeds are always present in your garden, germinating underneath the soil. Just cutting back weeds is a quick solution but it doesn’t eliminate the problem, weeds needs to be treated and the root removed in order to finally get rid of these pesky plants. Here are a few common weed types and the best way to get them out of your garden:

Couch Grass

 
couch-grass
 

One of the most common weed problems we see with customers is couch grass. Couch grass looks unassuming from the top, but grows a thicket of roots underneath your soil, which often compete with more mature plants for water and other nutrients in the soil. It grows both in the lawn and also within flower beds alongside your beautiful annual petunias and geraniums!

 

common_couch_03
couch grass with its horizontal rooting system

 

As you can see from the picture above. Couch grass or twitch grass (Elymus repens) is an old enemy for many gardeners. Its wiry, underground horizontal stems and creeping shoots pop up around garden plants and before long can take over a bed. Unfortunately just taking a strimmer to the affected areas, or just hacking it up with a spade or fork will only exacerbate the problem and cause the couch grass to spread faster as it multiplies along the root.

In uncultivated areas, forking out is possible in lighter soils, as much of the underground stem system is fairly shallow, but it is easy to leave behind small sections of rhizome in the ground. These quickly regrow and need to be removed before they form a new network of rhizomes.

Couch Grass spreads very easily, either using its network of roots, or the spread of seeds from its small flower heads. Using a weed killer on this plant could also harm your lawn, so unfortunately the best way to rid yourself of this plant is through the rather arduous and time consuming task of pulling up the root system manually by hand. When done properly its not uncommon to spend as much as 1 hour per square meter on a badly affected area.

Bindweed

 
bingweed
 

This is a pretty flower that does not look like a weed in any way,  but as the name suggests this is a climbing weed that wraps itself around any other plant it can grasp. It can easily take over entire flower beds, smothering the plants it begins to cover. Much like Couch Grass, its presence in your borders means that using chemical sprays could damage other plants. However, unlike Couch Grass, Bindweed extensive roots are brittle and prone to breaking when you try and remove them. Unfortunately, Bindweed can grow from small sections of root left in the soil, so once again; removing this plant can sometimes be a long job.

Groundsel 

 

The most obvious symptom of Groundsel infestation would be the dandelions dotted around your lawn and borders. Although attractive in their own way, they are still a weed, and can be host to all sorts of fungus that you do not want spreading.

 

dandelion

 

Groundsel roots are much more confined and you can use a chemical spray directly on the plant. Removing these plants is much easier than other weeds, as you should just be able to pull them out of the ground.

Removing weeds is not an easy job, and it can be tempting to do the bare minimum to quickly achieve an aesthetically pleasing garden, but many weeds can lay dormant for a very long time, and to avoid any problems in the future,  we always advise to invest the time and tackle them properly.

As always, if you have any questions relating to weeding, lawn care and general garden maintenance just reach out to us #grabagardener on Twitter & Instagram or tweet us with us @grabagardenerand one of our expert lawn specialists will get right back to you!

 

Good luck fighting off those weeds and Happy Gardening!