Gardening, George, Grow Your Own, How To, Plants, Watering

sowing a lawn from seed

Whether you’ve been giving your garden a makeover or want to touch up a patchy lawn, growing your own grass is a rewarding and straightforward task. Nothing quite beats a rich natural carpet for relaxing or playing on, and a thick lawn can really enhance your garden. Late spring and autumn are the best times to sow seeds, just outside of the frosty periods and while it’s wet enough to save on watering. Read on to learn about sowing a lawn from seed and before too long you will have a lush green garden to enjoy.

How to sow a new lawn in 6 steps

Step 1 – Prepare the soil

Smooth out the area of earth where you want to grow your new lawn. Then rake over it so the surface has open trenches to take in the seeds.

preparing soil

Step 2 – Sow the seeds

Take your grass seed and sprinkle over the soil. To start a new lawn, use 70g per m2 – to thicken up an existing lawn, 50g per m2 will do. Aim for an even covering of the soil, sprinkling by hand or using a spreader tool.

Step 3 – Mix in

Use the rake to gently mix the seeds into the top level of soil. Go lightly to avoid leaving any bare patches or putting the seeds too deep.

watering grass

Step 4 – Watering

Follow our watering schedule to ensure your seeds get enough hydration as they begin to grow:

First fortnight – Water lightly twice a day using a fine spray to avoid washing the seeds away.
Second fortnight – Water once a day or every other day depending on how quickly the soil dries out.
Second month – Water more heavily, twice a week.
Third month – Water once a week.
Up to 6 months – Water enough to stop it drying out, then let nature take over.

How to Keep Lawn Edges Neat

Step 5 – Mowing

Soon enough, your budding new grass will need its first trim. You should start to get shoots within the first two weeks. When the grass reaches 5cm tall and it’s a dry day, it’s time to cut. Mow slowly and don’t cut it right back – the plants are still tender. For the first four times you mow, just give it a little trim. After that you can gradually start to cut it back to your desired length.

Step 6 – Lawn care

For the best start in life, you’ll need to give your turf a little TLC. After 3 months you can start regular feeding with lawn fertiliser. But avoid using liquid fertiliser until 6 months. Fertilisers are often specialised for summer or autumn – make sure you use the right type or you will encourage growths that could be damaged at that time of year.

Don’t use weedkiller during the first 6 months either as it may kill the new shoots. Instead weed by hand. After the first year, you can begin aerating the lawn too.

growing lawn

And there you have our six step plan to lawn growing success! We hope these tips help and inspire you to trying out sowing from seed. Alternatively, you can compare real with artificial grass and see which might be best for your garden.

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

Gardening, George, Grow Your Own, Herbs, How To, Infographics, Planting, Watering

Gardening shouldn’t be limited to outside, particularly if you live in the city or an apartment. Having plants inside will enhance your rooms with life, colour and lovely scents. You can also have herbs and vegetables right on hand for cooking. So read on and pick up some tips on how to grow plants indoors with our step-by-step infographic.

And when you’re ready to start growing, we have some wonderful planters that will look great in your house!

How to grow plants indoors infographic

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Infographic by our designer Becky.

Check out the previous installment of The Complete Guide to Container Gardening, How to Grow Herbs in Pots. And read Part 9: How to Plant a Hanging Basket.

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

Garden Design, Gardening, Jorge, Plants, Watering

Reducing water use in the garden is a no brainer as it saves both the environment and money, leading to lower energy bills. Surprisingly, for a country with supposedly so much rain, the UK’s water supply is under severe stress due to excess demand that has taken its toll on our rivers. This year, there are fears the UK could be heading for a summer drought with rainfall in April 50% below average.  To solve this problem we need to improve water efficiency and doing so in the garden can be extremely enjoyable as it requires nous and experimentation.

Create a water thrifty garden

I recently visited the Cambridge University Botanical Garden, and saw a section comprised of plants that require no watering. The accompanying material described the fascinating ways plants have adapted to arid environments, such as how species of cacti reduced their leaves to spines and adopted spherical forms as to lower their volume to surface ratio, decreasing water loss.

Scientists have identified four strategies such plants use for coping with drought: escaping, evading, enduring and resisting that is described in detail here. Put succinctly, the first two strategies involve restricting growth and reproductive activities to the wet seasons, while the latter two involve reducing transpiration and growth (often through restricting photosynthesis) as to subsist in the heat.

Various morphological and physiological adaptation have allowed cacti to be extremely frugal in their usage of water.

Your own water thrifty garden (or section of the garden) doesn’t have to be made of just succulents or cacti, but can include many familiar plants, and even crops, creating a garden rich with colour and form, but with less maintenance. There are lists of drought resistant plants online and there is great guide to designing a stunning water wise gardens that can be found here.  

Creating such a garden will involve a some trial and error, but there some general practices that can be followed:

  • Permeable paving is a must as it allows water to percolate into the soil below, feeding your plants’ roots. With non-porous materials water will sit on top and evaporate.
  • Divide your garden into hydrozones with plants with similar water needs together. This will allow you to water more efficiently.
  • By using less fertiliser, your plants will grow slower and use less water.
  • Water less, but thoroughly, watering the entire root system. You can gauge how well the water is penetrating through pushing a pipe into the soil (it will move more easily through wet soil).
  • Sometimes it can be difficult to gauge when to water. This can be ascertained by digging into soil. If the soil below the topsoil is moist, there may be no need to water. If it is dry, it’s time to water. It is important to factor in certain soils such as sandy that will feel more dry and clay that will feel more damp. Although, the ultimate measure is your plant’s leaves: darkening or drooping may indicate water stress.
  • Gauge your soil type. Some soils (clay) are better at holding moisture, and can be watered less frequently (but with more water), while others will need frequent watering (sandy soils).
  • Water in the morning and evening when less water will be lost to evaporation.
  • Dig channels, basins, or funnels to avoid run off.
  • Mulching, either with organic or inorganic materials (gravel) will help maintain soil moisture and protect soil life from the sun’s rays.
  • Forgo turf. A perfect lawn is difficult to maintain and will require constant watering in the summer months.
  • Funnel rainwater from your roofs to waterbutts. A simple modification to your guttering will provide much needed water in times of drought.
  • Much of the water your household uses is good to reuse in the garden. Greywater recycling has the additional advantage of reducing the water sent back to water companies, which sometimes ends up in rivers, destroying the ecosystem.
By far the best way to reduce water use, this simple modification to your drainpipe will provide thousands of litres of water year on year.

Hügelkultur beds

Hügelkulturs are raised beds constructed from rotten logs overlaid with organic matter and soil. They aren’t enclosed and therefore slope; henceforth the name: hill/mound (hügel) culture (kultur). Hügelkulturs can significantly reduce water use as the decaying wood acts as a sponge, soaking up rainwater that it slowly releases back into the soil. The beds are so effective that after the first year, there will be no need to water your crops for many years, provided the bed is of a certain size.

Constructing a hügelkultur is relatively simple, but they have to be of a certain height (between two to six feet). The height is important as it determines how effective it will be at holding water. In general, a six foot bed will require no watering after the first year, while a two foot one will hold moisture for three weeks. Upon construction, a bed will begin shrinking, and a seven foot bed will become six foot, so they should be constructed higher than the desired height. To avoid excessive compaction of the soil, and to maintain good aeration, it is recommended that you build your beds with steep sides (45 degrees).

A hugelkultur bed with cds to scare away birds. Picture credit: Maseltov (2005) licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Certain trees are unsuitable as some trees are allelopathic, that is, will harm your crops with allelochemicals that will persist in the soil. Others take too long to rot. Most tree logs should be fine, and there are lists of allelopathic trees and scrubs online, so do some research. Known trees to avoid include include cedar, black locust, black cherry and black walnut. Excellent species to use include alders, apple, cottonwood, poplar, willow, and birch.

Before building your own bed, it is worthwhile to decide on whether you want to construct it entirely above ground or in a shallow trench (about two feet deep). The latter, lower in a ditch, will not impose on the landscape and will be easier to construct. (Try throwing soil six feet high!) It will also save on digging, as you can reuse the materials acquired when digging the trench, and not dig up other sections of the garden. Building above ground is preferable if you already have materials on hand, or find digging difficult. Constructing on top of sod has the additional advantage in that once the plant matter breaks down it will produce nitrogen for the soil.

hügelkultur beds

Once you have decided upon the above, simply pile your rotten wood, whether it be logs, sticks, timber or chippings, with the biggest at the bottom. Then give it a good drenching. (This will aid decomposition.) Fill in the gaps with kitchen waste, grass, leaves and manure. (Adding organic matter is useful as during decomposition wood will both take in, and then release nitrogen, so it is possible that the soil may be nitrogen deficient at points.) Then add a layer of sod upside down. (You can acquire turf when building a trench. If you have none, just use soil.) Next comes more soil as so the wood is fully covered. The degree the wood is encased is a matter of preference, although anything from a few inches to half a foot works best. Finally, top it off with mulch such as straw that is traditionally used.

Now your hügelkultur bed is complete, it is recommended that you start planting to prevent erosion. (Henceforth, it is useful to construct in time for the growing season.) Over time the wood will decay into rich humus, but at first, the soil will be fairly dense, so certain crops may be unsuitable for planting in its first year. Great crops to plant in this time include members of the cucurbitaceae family such as squash, melons and pumpkins.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

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