Janet Latchford Case Study

Janet Latchford Case Study

Written by: WILL DUNGER

Written by: WILL DUNGER

OWNER & HEAD LAWN TECHNICIAN

Background

We first visited Janet to quote for work on her lawn in June 2022, where we found a lawn beginning to suffer from the dry weather, however had very little moss or weed and the grass coverage was good. We concluded that with a balanced nutrient feed and some water, the lawn would be able to bounce back in no time.

However, a few weeks passed which brought no rain, record breaking high temperatures and two grandchildren with bicycles using the lawn as a race track. Janet called us back to in August as she felt the lawn was in a different condition now to our initial visit back in June, and she was correct. What we found on our second visit was a very drought stressed lawn where the grass had completed disappeared in places. This meant we needed to re-evaluate our initial plan for the lawn as we needed to turn our attention to improving the grass coverage.

Janets lawns during our initial survey visit on 23rd June 2022. A lawn showing signs of a lack of moisture, but otherwise doing OK.

Our Plan

We stuck with our suggested nutrient programme from our first visit, however we also needed to consider over seeding in September to rejuvenate what had become and tired and worn out surface. With this in mind, we recommended scarifying, aerating and over seeding and explained how important this process would be for the long term benefit of the lawn.

Top dressing was a topic that we did talk about prior to finalising our plan as we felt this could help speed up the recovery process, especially in some of the very worn out areas. With the size of the lawn being quite large at just over 400m2, in the end we decided against the top dressing in order to keep costs down. However, Janet was happy to proceed with the rest of our recommendations.

The lawn during our second visit at the end of August, in a much worse condition than the first visit back in June. It’s clear to see why we needed to re-evaluate our plan!

The Process

As there wasn’t any weed or moss in the lawn, we did not see the benefit of applying any treatments to the lawn prior to us being able to carry out the re-seeding work in September. Janet was more than happy to be patient with this process. As a keen gardener of many years she understood that when working with nature, these things can take time and are not to be forced.

We set about the scarification, aerating and over seeding work during early September. Usually we need to cut the lawn down short prior to scarification, then use our scarifiers to remove thatch and moss from the lawn. On this occasion we found ourselves using the blades of the scarifiers more to create grooves in the soil as a seed bed rather than thatch removal, as the grass coverage had deteriorated so badly during July and August.

Fortunately for us, there wasn’t too much debris from the lawn to collect following the scarification, which is usually a time consuming messy task. Ordinarily we would choose to aerate next prior to over seeding. However, on this occasion we decided to over seed before aerating. Our reason for this was so we could apply the seed directly into the grooves that the scarifier had created. If we waited until after the aeration to do this, the wheels of the aerator would have closed up many of the grooves, meaning less grass seed would end up where we’d ideally like them.

Grass seed applied after the scarification onto the surface of the soil and into the grooves.
Aerating the soil with our Camon La25 machine, after the grass seed had been applied.

Once we had completed the scarification, over seeding and aerating we moved onto the finer details on the rejuvenation process. By pulling our metal drag mat across the lawn in multiple directions, this encourages some of the grass seed beneath the soil, creating better seed to soil contact. Seed to soil contact in crucial for successful grass seed germination. If the seed does not have good access to the soil, it is unlikely to germinate, let along establish itself successfully.

Drag Mat at the ready to improve Seed-Soil contact.

On completion of the drag matting, we applied two products to the lawn which we deemed an important part of this process. Both the Granular Wetting Agent and Pre-Seed Fertiliser were applied using our SR2000 spreader, will break down into the soil when watered. The wetting agent will help what was a very dry soil, retain and make better use of any water it receives whilst the fertiliser will give the thousands of new grass seeds we’ve sown some much needed nutrients.

Some important nutrients for the recovery of the lawn.

This concluded the main stage of the rejuvenation process on 10th September. There would be plenty of aftercare to do in the shape of watering and mowing. Nonetheless, the anticipation of a newly sown lawn means it is all worth it.

Janets lawn following the Scarification, Aeration and Over Seeding.

Aftercare

Like every other over seeding job we carry out, the most important parts of the aftercare to allow for successful recovery is the watering and mowing.

Grass seeds, just like any other plant, requires sufficient moisture to be able to grow and thrive. Daily watering was recommended for Janets lawn. This would allow the grass seeds to swell, begin to put their roots down into the soil before showing fresh green shoots on the surface.

Mowing a newly sown lawn is dependant on factors such as the condition of the lawn and weather. There is no set time or date that you should have fixed to mow as so days may be more suitable than others. The first cut should take place when most grass seeds have germinated and reached the third leaf stage. Or to put it more simply, when most of the grass plants have three leaves.

Regular mowing will then encourage each plant to tiller out and become thicker. Encouraging denser growth rather than vertical. The images below shows how the correct aftercare of watering and mowing will allow the lawn to become thicker and healthier very quickly.

3 weeks after Scarification, Aeration and Over Seeding
4 weeks after Scarification, Aeration and Over Seeding

Bumps in the Road

Following the re-seeding work it wasn’t all plane sailing. With it being a large lawn it meant watering was a challenge. Even a large sprinkler only covered around one third of the lawn, meaning it would have to be moved and replaced at regular intervals. This is not the perfect scenario as it meant the lawn needed to be walked across sooner than the ideal. However, sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind as the saying goes.

Aftercare underway – lawns need water to survive and thrive!

The other problem Janet had to contend with was pigeons eating the grass seed. Pigeons were nesting in the large tree at the end of the garden meaning they were never too far away. It goes without saying that if the birds ate and removed seed from the surface of the lawn before it had chance to germinate, it would result in thin and bald areas of lawn. So, as well as regularly moving the sprinkler around the lawn, the pigeons needed to be shooed away as much as possible.

Summary

At the beginning we had received a big shock in the change of the condition of the lawn from our first visit in June to the second visit in July. A relatively healthy lawn had almost completely disappeared due to the drought and heavy traffic.

Looking back we are delighted with the decisions we made for Janet’s lawn and the timing of the process that was carried out. To date, it has turned out to be a success with full grass coverage returning and looking great.

The odd patch required a bit of re-seeding in October but nothing major. We continue to maintain the lawn to date with one of our seasonal treatment packages. It is important to remember that grass need regular maintenance to keep it looking its best. We choose to work with nature and not against it.

This was Janet’s lawn in the middle of October 2022, just 6 weeks after the over seeding process.

What a joy – if we do say so ourselves!