118 Windmill Road
Tel: 020 8665 6789
Rockinghams Landscaping work in the South West, South East and South London areas.
Imaginative garden design introduced a wide variety materials to replace traditional grass lawn. Paving, Gravel and Decking are attractive, claim to be low maintenance, and can theoretically be used in all weathers, but are they really a substitute for great British grass?
A lawn looks good, it's easy on the eye, green is after all, reputed to be a restful colour. But there's more to a lawn than appearances. One square metre of turf can contain over 10,000 individual grass plants, Each one locking up soil nitrates preventing them from entering watercourses and upsetting the ecological balance. Every single plant is absorbing some of the CO2 responsible for global warming and re-releasing it into the atmosphere as life-giving oxygen. Every single plant is transpiring, releasing cooling water vapour into the air, effectively makes the grass acting as a living air conditioning unit. Try it. On a hot summers day, which is the most comfortable to sit on, paving stones? Or grass?
Scientists tell us that the UK may experience wetter winters as our climate changes. What happens to all that water that lands in your garden during a deluge? If it lands on a hard surface, it all runs off again, damaging flowerbeds eroding soil, (carrying your costly gravel with it) thus overloading the sewerage system. Maybe it has nowhere to go and you have a flood. If you're lucky enough to have a lawn, rainwater will be absorbed and filtered harmlessly down into the water table.
So, the lawn is good for the environment. It's also good for people. Doctors are convinced that patients overlooking an area of soft landscaping make quicker recoveries than those faced with pavements and buildings. Apparently sportsmen and women receive fewer injuries when playing on natural grass as opposed to artificial surfaces because it acts as a shock absorber, reducing stress on muscles, joints and cartilages and as every mother knows, green knees are much less traumatic than grazed knees.
Modern turf grass cultivars are low maintenance compared to their ancestors. A wide range of cultivars with desirable. characteristics is available and new improved strains are introduced every year. Modern lawnmowers are inexpensive and easy to use. Nowadays maintaining a lawn is as easy as 1,2,3.
Incorporating a lawn into an imaginative garden design is easy it lends itself to slopes, curves, straight lines, small areas, large areas - anything!
Unusual and not totally uninteresting facts related to turfgrass
Sward. A ground cover of grass which is kept mown and which will stand a reasonable amount of traffic. Turf has a particularly attractive and hardwearing sward as a result of the interaction between carefully selected grass cultivars, very special soil type and expert husbandry and maintenance throughout all stages of its development. The seedmix as shown is tailored to our own requirements and typically contains varying proportions of the following grasses:
Thatch: A layer of fibrous organic matter between the sward and the soil layer.
A thin layer (up to l5mm) of thatch is entirely normal in healthy turf. It contains a mixture of living and dead grass stems, crowns and roots which protect the turfs life systems by reducing surface water evaporation, protecting delicate roots from wear and tear and, by acting as a sort of shock absorber, it also limits soil compaction.
Soil: Upper layer of earth in which plants grow.
Turf is grown on rich dark organic soils which are virtually stone free. Well drained, yet moisture retentive. This allows the landscaper to transport, barrow, lift and lay more turf in a day. As well as being an essential source of water and nutrients, the soil layer in a harvested turf protects the delicate microscopic root hairs from damage, thus giving the newly transplanted turf the best possible chance of establishment.
When creating a lawn the choices seem simple; Turf or seed. Seeding sounds like the cheapest option, Grass seed doesn't cost much, its easy to obtain and surely you just sprinkle it on the ground and it grows? Well, it's not quite as simple as that. The garden centre has a wide array of grass seeds on the shelf - but which type of grass will produce a lawn that best suits your garden and your lifestyle? And yes, seed will grow when you sprinkle it on the ground, but if you want a uniform lawn - you must be sure to prepare the ground thoroughly, broadcast your seed uniformly and then care for it until it's growing strongly. And the grass seed isn't all that will grow either - you may also have a magnificent crop of weeds to deal with too - either by hand weeding or by using expensive chemicals. Oh - and don't forget that no matter how much fertiliser and TLC you apply, a seeded lawn can take several months before it's strong enough for normal use.
What about turf then? Well, at first glance, it's not cheap to buy but is less expensive than paving and far more convenient. If you take care when choosing your turf, it will look good straight away and can be used within weeks. There are many UK turf producers and retailers but their products may not be comparable.
Price is not necessarily an indication of value, for money. Very often, turf at the cheaper end of the market is pasture turf - agricultural grasses, carefully mown (and fertilized!) by livestock before being harvested and sold. Agricultural grasses are bred for their nutritional value rather than their aesthetic qualities. True if they can withstand the hooves of a herd of Friesian cows, they will happily stand up to little Johnny emulating his favourite football player but rather than mirror the hallowed grounds at Wembley, your lawn will resemble (not surprisingly) a farmers field. The sward may be uneven and close mowing could stress the plants meaning that they need extra TLC to keep them alive. If however you're happy to leave your lawn looking a bit more "wild" than the neighbours' or if you are turfing a large area that doesn't need to be manicured - an orchard or a car-park for example. Meadow turf could be just the thing for you.
Cultivated turf is more expensive than meadow tuft and prices do vary. Phone round, compare prices and ask to see samples (personal preferences differ) Remember, to ask the size of the individual turves so that you can be sure you are comparing like for like. Square metres are actually 20% bigger than square yards. Don't forget to ask if VAT is included in the price and what, if any, delivery costs may be incurred.