07 Oct 2022

Gardening with James Vaughan: Grass seed or grass turf?

Gardening with James Vaughan: Grass seed or grass turf?

The ground is still extremely wet although temperatures - and soil temperatures - are above normal. I have yet to see any early emerging bumble bees in my own garden seeking out some nectar.

If you see any large bumblebees this time of year they are most likely Queens who have emerged from their winter hibernation.

Another sign that spring is just around the corner is the sight and sound of grass being cut. There is something really nice about smelling fresh cut grass, especially in suburban areas.

Usually, around this time of year a lot of gardening conversations I have with people revolve around grass-cutting and lawns. So, for this week’s article, we will focus on a few aspects of lawn care.

To begin, we will list the two main types of grass used in lawns. By far the most popular type is perennial ryegrass (Poa perennial). This is the majority grass seed sold each year for residential settings. This grass is hard wearing so it is suitable if you have high traffic areas i.e. where children or pets are around.

The other type of grass, which is less used, is Festuca grass. This is a finer, softer type of grass. A simple way to discover if you have ryegrass or Festuca grass is to pick a blade of it. The Festuca is ‘round’ and you can feel this when you twist a blade of it between thumb and index finger.

Ryegrass, however, is ‘flat’ and is not easy to twist between thumb and forefinger. You would typically see Festuca grass on the putting green of a golf course. In fact, if ryegrass was seen on a putting green, it would be seen as a weed and removed. Bear in mind that if you wish to keep the grass tidy it may need to be trimmed ever week from now until at least October- that makes for more than thirty cuts.

Grass Seed or Grass Turf?

If you want a lawn but do not yet have one now is a good time to start. If starting a lawn, you have two main ways to do so. One is with spreading lawn seed and the other is with laying grass turf. Both ways of establishing lawns have their advantages and drawbacks.

If you require an immediate lawn, then grass turf is your preferred option. If you are looking for the most economical option, then grass seed is your best option.

One thing I would urge you all to remember about lawns is the wildlife. Lawns offer little in the way of food or habitat. One thing I have done in our garden is to include a fallow space.

This is an area where we do not interfere with nature. In our case this area is filled with stinging nettles. These are a great source of food for butterflies and their caterpillars. If you can at all, leave an area- even a strip at the edge un-cut – this will be a great habitat for wildlife.

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