I am often asked if I have any photos of lawns which I have worked on, so I have put together this slideshow showing the usual Lawnscience lawn regeneration process, bringing a really poor quality lawn back to its best.
If you are interested in me helping you bring your lawn back to life, get in touch and I will be happy to advise.
Filed under Lawn fertilisation & weed control, Lawn issues in the Press, Weeds
This is something that I have heard about before and a quick Google search reveals a number of blogs, websites and resources claiming that acetic acid (more commonly, vinegar) is a perfectly safe and effective herbicide for all garden weeds.
The truth to this is, it is both right and wrong!
Vinegar as a weedkiller – The facts:
Myth 1: Household vinegar is an effective weedkiller
It is true that vinegar does kill green vegetation on plants that it comes into contact with and that it is even sold as an ingredient in some specialist herbicides in the US. However, acetic acid is only ever effective as a contact herbicide, killing only parts of the weed that it comes directly into contact with. Any parts of the plant which it does not touch directly remain completely unaffected. This will include any leaves not touched, the root and any growth nodes from which new leaves can form. This means that it is only effective on small annual weeds, which often easily just pulled out by hand. The majority of garden weeds such as dandelions, are extremely tough and just killing a few of their leaves will pose no threat to them. They simply send up new leaves quickly and bounce back to full strength in a matter of days.
This means that household vinegar cannot really be compared to weedkillers that have been designed and tested to thoroughly kill weeds, root and all.
Myth 2: Vinegar is an easy to use weedkiller
As vinegar is a chemical which only kills plant tissue, so it needs to be in direct contact with the target plant. However, it will also damage sensitive plants and like these may take a long time to recover from acid damage, far longer than a weed. Have a look at your garden or lawn and asses if you would enjoy trying to paint every single weed, avoiding every plant you want to keep. For general weed control, it’s obvious that it is not really a viable option.
Myth 3: Vinegar is totally safe
Household vinegar is only 5% acetic acid. It would work more effectively as a weedkiller at higher concentrations, but once you get above 7% it starts to become a quite a dangerous chemical to handle with a risk of skin burns, and a possible danger to fish if spilt in water. Not exactly harmless.
Myth 4: Vinegar is safe to use as a base for a “home herbicide”
Some Internet sources worryingly give out instructions of how to mix together your own herbicide at home, using ingredients like detergent, salt and even bleach! I strongly advise against this. These chemicals are not designed for use in the garden and can end up doing much more harm than good. You don’t know what they may contain and you should only use them as labelled. In some areas use of all chemicals “off label” is illegal with heavy fines if caught. These rules are there to protect the environment and products designed for garden use have been fully tested and licensed for that use. To use other household chemicals because you think they are better is very poor judgement.
Retails herbicides are designed to do their job as safely as possible, with as little impact to their environment as possible. If you do not wish to use any chemicals at all in your garden you are much better off getting down on your hands and knees and hand pulling weeds regularly rather than rooting round in the kitchen cupboards for home remedies.
In summary, leave the vinegar for your chips!
- Oregon State University – PDF Fact Sheet for Vinegar/Acetic Acid Recommendations
- Dr. Michael Owen – Acetic acid for weed control
- Garden myths blog – Does vinegar kill weeds?
A waterlogged lawn is a very fragile thing and can be completely destroyed in a few minutes by heavy boots or an quick game of football. This post is to just take a look at why the a wet lawn is susceptible to damage, how to prevent it, and how to bring it back if it does end up turning into a mud bath!
The majority of the UK has experienced an extremely damp start to 2014. With record rainfall levels and flooding affecting a lot of the South East. Up here in Manchester we seem to have dodged the worse of it, but have still seen much more than usual.
How do I know if I have a waterlogged lawn?
An excessively waterlogged lawn is very easy to spot. If you have had a lot of rain over a number of weeks then you may start to notice that the tips of the grass will start to turn yellow. This is a sign that the roots are struggling to breathe and the plant is pulling in its reserves to try and prevent death. Grass is extremely hardy and can survive for a number of days flooded, but will certainly perish if underwater for any prolonged period.
If you step on the lawn you may also notice the soil feels “squelchy” underfoot and water does not drain away from the surface. In severe cases there maybe puddling on the soil. This is all a symptom of poor drainage, with the water not being able to escape quickly enough into the sub-soil or run off.
Why is excess water bad for your lawn?
A healthy soil is full of pockets of air. These enable roots of plants and micro-organisms which live in the soil to breathe. If a soil becomes waterlogged, all of the air floats to the surface and is lost to the atmosphere. The extra weight of the water closes these pockets and the soil becomes compacted, preventing it from breathing and so plants rot and eventually die. This is a real problem for grass.
How to limit damage to a waterlogged lawn.
The main thing to do is STAY OFF A WATERLOGGED LAWN! This cannot be stressed enough. Any pressure on wet soil squeezes out more air which then cannot be replaced and the result will be a very compacted and dead soil.
The second thing you need to address is drainage. If you find that you regularly have a waterlogged lawn, even in times when other parts of the garden are not suffering, then you need to look at improving this for the long term.
Things to consider are:
- Try to fill in any depressions and level any areas which tend to puddle. This will help water drain off the lawn.
- When the lawn is dryer, Hollow-tine aerate and then brush sharp-sand into the open holes. This helps to keep the soil structure open and aids water movement through the soil.
- Regular top dressing will help keep the soil healthy and level.
- A French drain system can be installed to help move water away from the problem area.
- Some plants can be planted to help garden drainage. Some conifers and other trees will suck up hundreds of gallons of water from the soil, helping problem areas.
Fixing a lawn ruined by waterlogging.
In many cases, as long as the wet hasn’t been too long or the lawn hasn’t been used while wet, most grasses will recover from a wet spell easily. However, if you have heavy damage then follow the following steps to bring the lawn back to life:
- Wait until conditions improve and the soil is warm (at least 8 degrees Celsius is needed for grass seed germination).
- Aerate the area well. Spiking deeply is advised, but a professional hollow-tine aeration treatment is recommended.
- Brush in a layer of sharp sand. NOT builders sand which can contain salts and other impurities, but a horticultural sharp sand.
- Overseed the area with an appropriate grass seed.
- If necessary, cover the area with a light layer of topsoil or compost, to give the seed a good medium to germinate into.
- Keep it lightly watered to help the seed to take and then let it establish before mowing.
Follow these steps and it will recover quickly.
Lawnscience (South Manchester) Ltd