Don't underestimate the importance of your lawn, writes Justin Newcombe.
Creating a great landscape in your back yard is so often reliant on the lawn. Much of the success of the design will rely on the quality, shape and finish of this emerald shag pile. I find the lawn's prominence is often underestimated. A garden loaded with amazing plants, specimen trees and other aesthetic goodies will look banal if the lawn is rubbish. On the other hand, a dull garden with very few or small plants will be much improved in quality if the lawn is a well-organised, well-structured green machine. When you put a great garden together with a super lawn, it is magic.
A lot of your lawn's success depends on the mowing strip or border which frames it. The border differentiates the lawn from the garden, reduces maintenance and frames the lawn off. Framing stops the lawn from meandering off under trees, against fences or under decks where it dissipates into a messy, confused muddle. A frame will confine the lawn and make it more purposeful.
A mowing strip is not the only way to achieve a purposeful lawn though.
Planting using a mixture of hedges and boards will also do the trick, as will a simple dug edge. The important thing is to emphasise a strong shape and to keep your lawn looking mean and green.
Here, I've gone for a Readylawn, mainly because I know what to expect at the end. There are half a dozen different types available and it really pays to check in with the guys at Readylawn. I usually use a reasonably fine rye grass as it seems to do well in most Auckland conditions and looks beautiful when it's established. It is a little more fragile than the other varieties when you're laying it, so a little extra care is needed. But once it is installed the instant realisation is gratifying and certainly worth the trouble.
Thanks to readylawn.co.nz.
Clear out any weeds and existing grass. Install new screened top soil. This can be a purpose-made lawn mix or you could add around 30 per cent sand into straight top soil.
Rake off and discard any large pieces of soil. The top of the soil should be finely tilled. If the soil is dry, water lightly.
Gently roll out the first strip of lawn. Then roll out the next roll next to the first. The second roll should overlap the first a bit like brick work.
Press the seams together and tap down with a rake.
I'm using a large piece of timber as an island to stand on while I lay the lawn. This means I never have to step on the lawn or the ground. Use a second piece of timber to hit the lawn down by lifting one end and dropping, then repeat at the other end. Move the timber across the lawn as you lay it. In soft conditions or wet weather you will still have a perfect lawn.
Slightly overlap each end of the lawn and cut through the overlap with a sharp knife. Remove off-cuts and join. This will ensure a perfect join.
Cut in the edges and water thoroughly for at least three weeks.