The Idea Dude


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Fat grass and a lesson in patience

Couple of years ago, our lawn died a horrible death while I was away working in the US for over a year. It was the hottest summer and the family joined me in Atlanta for several weeks. On our return, we had our mini version of the Sahara. Adding to the fact our soil is mainly clay meant any form of rescue was futile.

Being a person with no green fingers, I took advice and added top soil with fervour which promptly suffocated the rest of the grass seeing that I had put too much.

Over the years, the grass slowly returned. I resisted all attempts to rip it all up and lay new grass. I guess I was stubborn (but probably more stupid than I care to admit).

Enter Fat Grass.

For really good grass, there needs to be a couple things done every year as I found out the hard way.

  • Wash the grass in spring to get all the salt off from the snow
  • Aerate the lawn at the beginning of the season by punching holes at frequent intervals using a special tool.
  • Add topsoil at least once a season to replinish what is washed away
  • Watch out for small white worms that attach the roots of the grass. The best way without using chemicals is to use nematodes early or late in the season. These are natural parasitic worms that attack garden pests like cutworms.
  • Fertilize several times a year if you have very bad quality soil.
  • Finally, reseed your grass every year. Grass like anything else has a life cycle and needs new grass to keep the lawn nice and thick.

    If you do all this, as I found out incrementally over the years, the lawn will be become your friend. The best way to fight weeds is to have really thick grass. Most weeds survive because their roots reach deep down. Grass tend to have shallow roots so the more grass you have, the more they will choke the weeds.

    Ok so what about Fat Grass. This refers to seeding the lawn with new grass to make it really thick um fat. The fat grass recipe can be found at the ChumFm blog. Top soil is great for existing grass but not for new grass because it dries out too quickly requiring a lot more watering. How to create fat grass?

    To seed new grass, mix peat moss (very fine powdery stuff that can hold 20 times it's weight in water) and vermiculite (white stuff, actually 2/3s clay) and add water until it is all spongy and wet. Then spread over the areas that require new grass. Sprinkle the grass seed on top of the peat moss mixture and water every day for 10 days. Around the 8th day, the grass should start sprouting and in a few weeks, a much richer and thicker (fatter!) lawn is the result.

    This bumbling gardener has been able to turn a desert into an oasis (ok maybe not an oasis but definitely a better looking lawn than most on my street). So you can too.

    The thing I learnt the most? You have to do all of the above and most of all exercise patience. During the 8 days, I endured jokes and friendly jabs like "Are they growing yet?" as I religiously went out to water the lawn every day.

    Who's laughing now!

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