Filed under General, Hollow-tine aeration treatment, Lawn fertilisation & weed control, March, Rain, Soil conditioner treatment, Waterlogged lawn, Winter
Up here in the North West of England the spring is just gradually trying to through through. It is the middle of March (2014) and the North West of England is currently in the midst of a winderful early spring season. The daffodils are flourishing, the sun is shining and all of our gardens are coming to life again.
The problem is that we haven’t had a winter yet!
With some parts of the UK experiencing the wettest winter weather on record, temperatures up here in Manchester have barely dipped below 8 degrees Celsius. We had less than half-a-dozen light frosts since November and I can’t remember slipping on ice even once during my entire winter treatment program.
Mild winter, good or bad?
A mild winter is both a good and bad thing for our gardens. Garden birds and other small animals will have done well, as they have been able to find water and food throughout the winter, keeping populations high. Insects will also have done well, however this includes many pests and grubs such as slugs and leatherjackets which feast on our garden plants in the spring.
Fungi and mosses have also had a bumper winter, with the damp weather proving to be ideal conditions for them to spread into areas of weak grass.
Worms have had a difficult winter though. Even though they can survive in saturated soil for quite a long time, they will migrate to higher ground if wet conditions continue, literally leaving the soil to go stale. Some areas which have seen standing water for some time will not see the worms return for many months.
How do I rejuvinate my lawn this spring?
As I have said on many occasions, the grass in our lawns is an extremely hardy plant, being able to tolerate a variety of adverse weather without any significant problems. However, there are some things you can do to your lawn to speed up a spring recovery this spring, helping it to look lovely and green this summer.
- Apply an aeration treatment. During wet weather, oxygen and other gases are expelled from the soil, compating it. This enviroment makes it difficult for the grass roots to penetrate the soil, weakening the lawn. Aerating the soil helps to open up the soil, relieving compaction and enabling gasses to be exchanged in the root zone. It is a fantastic treatment to apply to your lawn after a wet winter.
- Apply a soil conditioner treatment. Soil which is drenched for a long period of time looses a great deal of bacteria and other micro-organisms due to the loss of available oxygen. The Lawnscience soil conditioner is a concentrated seaweed treatment which acts as food for these essential bacteria, keeping the soil alive.
- Apply a high quality spring fertiliser. The fertiliser which I am applying this year is high in nitrogen to promote leaf growth and also high in potassium, which is the essential element most likely washed through the soil
Be sure to only apply these treatments when your lawn has dried out sufficiently (no squelching or water visible on the surface), as you can do more damage by treating a wet lawn.
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?