Treating the Garden Lawn
A lawn must be treated with fertilizers at least every year, and more often if used a great deal.
In ordinary grass land, the grass dies down when the end of the season comes, and the decaying leaves are taken below by worms to form grass food, which enriches the. In a lawn, however, this natural feeding only happens if the lawn is mown regularly without the box, the short grass being left on the surface. Even when this is done a lawn does need some help in the matter of plant food, and responds to a well balanced fertilizer.
If the turf of a lawn is treated with sulphate of ammonia, but no lime, once a month from March to October, fewor coarse grass are able to grow, the finer grasses alone being left. This theory is still being tested, but appears to be working well in practice. In any case, sulphate of ammonia is one of the most useful chemicals for storage by those who take a pride in their (but it must only be applied in small doses).
The minerals used as lawn fertilizers consist of either some natural form of rock, e.g. rock phosphates, or some manufactured material, such as sulphate of ammonia.
The organic fertilizers used are made of animal refuse of various forms, manure, bones, etc. Manures are becoming increasingly scarce, ordinary road sweepings cannot be used for lawns, because these invariably contain the seeds of weeds, and may contain tar, which is injurious to plant life. Chemical fertilizers are therefore more commonly used, either in the form of soluble fertilizers or as dressings.
What is Missing
Lime is advisable in most cases, and if the soil is deficient in this, it can best be remedied by using calcium carbonate during the winter months. Charcoal helps to purify and sweeten sour soil, fixes nitrogen, and makes the grass greener. It should be used between October and February, in powdered form, at the rate of about 1 lb. to the square yard. There are many brands of fertilizers on the market, each intended to balance some discrepancy in the soil. For this purpose they are listed under three headings: Acid, Neutral and Alkaline, and they must not be used indiscriminately, for what suits one lawn is fatal to another.
Weak grass on light soil benefits by the application of 1 oz. Sulphate of potash per square yard, in March, whereas poor grass growing on heavy soil is improved by double that quantity of bone-meal given in October or February. Bone-meal encourages clover growth, so, if preferred, 1 oz. each of bone-meal and superphosphate of lime can be given, but the super-phosphate must not be used when the soil is deficient in lime.
When damp, sour soil is the cause of weak grass; fresh slaked lime or pulverized chalk will correct the trouble. (Moss usually appears in such cases.) 10 oz. per square yard will sweeten the soil, and should be followed by raking with a moss-rake or by piercing the surface with the prongs of a garden fork to let in air to the soil and roots.
Coarse rank grass, growing on heavy soil, is improved by a I in. dressing in February of clean, sharp sea or river sand well screened, or by a dressing of sifted coal ashes.
Scorched grass, on light sandy soil, is best dressed with equal parts of fibrous loam and leaf-mould, with a sprinkling of guano or soot, applied in. thick, in February.
Scorched grass, on heavy soil, responds to a dressing in February of nitrate of soda, at the rate of 1/2 in. to the square yard, which discourages clover and encourages the growth of the grass.
Mossy lawns need treating with soot (six months old, stored dry), sufficient to blacken the grass, in October or November, and if possible before rain.
Of general usefulness are applications of 1 oz. Each of basic slag and kainit per square yard in November, and 1 oz. of superphosphate of lime plus ½ oz. of sulphate of ammonia in March.
The easiest way to apply soluble fertilizers to the lawn in an even manner, is to divide the lawn into so many parts, and then divide the solution accordingly. Dilute with the required amount of water, and do one section at a time. If the solution is made in a watering can it can then be used straight away. Always stir well before use.
Liquid manure can be made from any good complete lawn fertilizer. A small amount of sulphate of iron (not more than ½ oz. to the square yard) can be added and greatly improves the colour of the grass.
Can be made from anything that will decay, such as all kinds of manure, leaves, turf, and waste vegetation (excepting grassthat come from a weedy lawn, which are better rotted down separately with lime). Soil from old hotbeds, leaf-mould, breeze, sand, etc., may be used. The time this will take to decay will vary, but may be a year. Lime will hasten the process. The is better turned over now and again, and watered if necessary.
Before using, put the compost through a 3/4-in. Mesh sieve. The best time of the year to use compost on the lawn is in winter, spreading about 1/4-in. thickness all over the surface.
Lawns should be treated with fertilizers at least once a year, but better results are obtained if the applications are made in small doses, every three weeks, than if the whole quantity prescribed is put on at once. Always, when applying commercial lawn fertilizers, keep strictly to the directions given by the makers, noting particularly the quantity for each square yard. Dry fertilizers are best applied in showery weather, and well worked into the roots with a stiff garden broom. When the work has to be done in dry weather, water the lawn well afterwards.
Recent research done under the auspices of the Imperial Chemical Company at Jealott’s Hill farm have shown that if quick-acting fertilizer is applied to the lawn in February (that is before the normal growing season) the roots begin to use it immediately, that is to say, roots of plants are active before the tops begin to grow. Amateurs are therefore advised to apply soluble fertilizers earlier in the season than usual, rather than to delay until the summer is well advanced.
To apply dry fertilizer evenly, mix it with four times its bulk of dry soil or sand. It will be easier to broadcast, and will not be so likely to burn the grass.