Weedy lawn problems

Discussion in 'Lawns' started by Dunny, Aug 17, 2014.

  1. Dunny

    Dunny Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi all,

    Like everything else with my property the gardens surrounding the house are in desperate need of improvement. To the side of my house I have about half an acre of grass with probably 12 - 15 mature trees in it (sweet chestnut, sycamore, oak and elder I think). When I moved in most of the grass was overgrown with 4 feet of nettles and a variety of other weeds. The ground is soft in places and the levels are all over the place. The tree roots are large and I can't get a mower over some of them.

    So far all I have been able to do is strim the areas that I can't get a mower to and I have bought a flail mower for the back of my tractor. This has got the grass down but obviously has done nothing for the weeds. There are various bald dry patches where I guess not much has been growing due to the weed cover.

    I accept it will never be a competition winning lawn but other than mowing it what can I do to improve it over time?

    Is it worth adding lime across the whole area?

    If I move to a ride on mower (the tractor is a bit big to get around the trees effectively) am I best getting a cylinder one?

    Thanks

    D
     
  2. Kristen

    Kristen Under gardener

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    I rough cut some of my grass with a topper mower (PTO driven off my tractor). Its about 4' wide, and I can drive & mow at about walking pace which (by my calculations!) is about 2 acres per hour.

    I spray the rough grass with a selective weedkiller in late spring, that basically means that all there is is grass, so I don't get weed seed etc. in it, and when it gets to about half way up my calves I mow it - that's about once a month.

    The rest I mow with a cylinder, because over time it encourages finer grasses. I have some paths through the long grass, some areas of proper lawn :) and some paths between flower borders etc. I use an Allen National for those - 68" cut from a 3-gang cylinder mower mounted on what looks like a flying bedstead! They are available second hand on eBay for around £400.

    To use a cylinder on rough meadow grass you need to first get it under control, which means cutting it regularly with a rotary. Most people would just use a rotary and leave it at that - so you could get a ride on rotary mower. Trouble with them is that they are usually a single deck, mounted under a garden/lawn tractor, and they scalp the high points and so on. But they will cut it short, over time, and regular mowing will mean that the rough grasses will give up and the finer grasses will survive.

    So you could just go with a ride on rotary mower.

    Depends a bit what quality of grass you want, at the end of the day, on the bits that are close mown. If you want to bring the whole lot under control they you are going to have to sort out the uneven ness of the area of grass.
     
  3. Dunny

    Dunny Apprentice Gardener

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    Thanks Kristen.

    Just want it to look decent and tidy.

    D
     
  4. Kristen

    Kristen Under gardener

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    I would cut it once a month (with your flail, or a rotary topping mower) and then cut some nice paths through it with a walk-behind or ride-on rotary. They will cope with occasional missed-mowings :) but basically you want to aim to do that once a week in the growing season. In a year, maybe two, you will only have fine grasses on the "paths".

    Spray the lot with a selective herbicide late Spring onwards, and heed the warnings on the labels - don't let any spray drift, and don't use cut grass as hay / for compost if the instructions say that the chemicals persist.

    If you like, in a few years time, you could look at getting a cylinder for the paths, once the rotary has got them under regular control and the rough grasses have died out.
     
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