Photo by Melody

Starting a lawn the hard way

By Adina Dosan (adinamitiApril 25, 2011
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Having lush grass, like a thick carpet to walk on or just to enjoy, while staying on the terrace, is everyone's dream. But how do you make it happen if not working hard? Some people hire a professional gardener to do it, but not my husband and I. We chose to do all the hard work by ourselves and now our little grandson can play on our lawn!

Gardening pictureMy husband diggingMy husband has always had this dream of having a lawn in the backyard. I would have preferred flowers, although I too like lawns. When we finally had our own home and a garden to plan, we decided to have both flowers and a lawn. The lawn was planned to be in the back yard, of course, and in spring we got it started. I knew what I was getting into and that I was going to do almost all the work, but I have never complained of too much gardening. March was a good month for digging three years ago, when we started our lawn. It had good, sunny days, followed by rain and cold. My husband helped me with digging and that counted a lot, at least for saving some of my Digging in the gardenstrength. He is blind, but we improvised something to keep him on the right track, by laying a board on the ground, in front of him, where he could sense it with the shovel and dig straight along the board. 

The soil in our garden was mostly clay. It took a while to dig, but no one was hurrying us. It was a hard job because of too many weeds with strong roots growing in the ground. It was much easier to dig when the soil was moist, although the mud stuck on everything, including our boots. One day I didn't have time to chop what my husband had dug and it was so much harder to chop it later, when it got dry. After digging the whole future lawn, I had to rake and level the ground. Oh, we were so happy and proud of ourselves when it was all done! Finally we only had to sow the grass seeds and then, the most fun part was coming, watering.

Part of the future lawn ready Another part of the future lawn ready for sowing Notice the difference between the dry and wet soil

 We went to the store for the grass seed and had to choose from many kinds of seed mix for the lawn. They had seeds for sports, sunny, walking, playground and drought resistant lawn. We chose sports which seemed the most appropriate for us. Now I know that some people use an herbicide before digging - especially on a wild field like ours - but we didn't know it then. That wouldn't have been good for the insects in our garden, so I'm glad we didn't do it. We chose the hard way, to pick up the weeds from the lawn every time they would pop up. If only we knew what was coming!

For sowing the seeds I read the instructions from the box which explained what quantity of seeds have to be sown on a certain square area of 200 square feet. Using a retractable flexible rule and a board, we measured the first area and sowed the exact quantity of seeds recommended on the box.

Measuring parts of the garden for sowing the grass seeds My husband holding the board for measuring an area I was using the retractable flexible rule for measuring

Grass seeds spreaded on the soilI even weighed them on a scale at first, but then I used this plastic container that contained the exact quantity of seeds which needed to be sowed on the 200 square feet area. I just threw the seeds with my hand, a few on each spot, until I covered the first area. Then measured again the next 200 square feet area and so on, until the whole lawn was sown. Some parts of the lawn were smaller, so we had to do some counting and find out what quantity of seeds should be sown on it. Counting was very important so the seed wouldn't be too heavily sown on an area. Otherwise the sprouts would suffocate each other and die back.

 

 

Retractable flexible rule for measuring and a plastic glass for  measuring the exact quantity of seeds Me sowing My hand with seeds

Watering the future lawn

Soil after rakingAfter sowing, it is important to rake in different directions, first straight, then in an angle, to spread and bury the seeds. The next thing was tapping the ground so the seeds should stay covered under the soil. This task had to be done with a special heavy cylinder, but since we didn't have it, the instructions said it was alright to tap the soil by foot walking, which I did on the whole area.

Now, all the hard work was done and we could enjoy some rest while watering the soil. Watering needs to be done by spraying with a hose that won't disturb the seeds and thoroughly, so the soil should be moist all the time until the first sprouts appear. Boy, what fun I had when I first sprinkled water over our future lawn!

 For the next few weeks this was my first priority and when I saw the first grass sprouts popping up, I was ecstatic! My husband was checking it every day, by touching the soil, and he was the first one who noticed the sprouts, even though they weren't visible.

First grass sprouts First sprouts of grass in our lawn Close-up of the grass sprouts

Weeds looking like red orach

Weeds like red orach in the lawnThe problem with a new lawn is that you can't walk on it until the grass grows about 2 inches tall. During all this time we had to watch as weeds grew too, some even bigger than the grass sprouts. First were these small plants which seemed very much like red orach. I was tempted to let them grow so I could pick it later, when it was all grown, enough to make a soup. I was wrong and paid a big price for it. Those were only weeds which grew bigger and bigger, until I finally realized they weren't what I thought they were. So, I started weeding. More weeds grew in our lawn, but most of them were other grass species. At first all seemed the same, but in time I've figured out that those weren't what I had sown, but other grass species which came from the field around us or they had already been inside our soil.

Weeds suffocating the grass

Big grass in the lawnThey grew so fast and so big, in some parts of the lawn suffocating the grass I've sown. It was hard work to pull them out because they had strong and deep roots. They were so many that weeding lasted almost all summer. While pulling out in one part, they grew taller and stronger in another, but we finally beat them! They left many empty spots in the lawn, so I had to sow more seeds the following spring, and replant there the grass clusters which were growing in the wrong spots of my garden.

 

Sprinler in our lawnFor watering the lawn in the hot summer days I bought this sprinkler which saves me some time, so I can do other things, like watering the pots. It's a tiny sprinkler and I need to move it several times until all the lawn gets enough water, but it's enough for my small lawn.

Our lawn mowerMeanwhile we bought a lawn mower which helped eradicate the weeds in our lawn. Mowing made the weeds less strong and they didn't have the chance to bloom, so no more seeds for the following year. Of course, we still have weeds in our lawn, but they aren't so many now as weeding goes on every summer. Last year, clover spread so much while we were gone on vacation. I have been pulling it since then and still didn't get rid of it. However, our lawn is lush and

Trifolium in my lawn

beautiful and we are so proud of it!

I know you must think it's exhausting to weed so much, but what a satisfaction to have a weed-free lawn, not to mention about the daily exercise you get. And having our grandson playing on the lawn is the best reward we can get! Now, tell me, is it worth it or not?

You can also get more great information about starting a lawn from this article .

 


  About Adina Dosan  
Adina DosanAdina is a Romanian plants and pets addicted, always happy to share her experience. Follow her on Google.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
If its green .....mow it! binibusybee 5 18 May 3, 2011 1:35 PM
Yep... hustonprincess 3 16 Apr 28, 2011 12:23 AM
Boy, you are dedicated! sallyg 11 60 Apr 27, 2011 8:20 AM
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