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A good and healthy lawn needs a few special considerations.

Good amount of sunlight is essential, as the grass does not grow at all in the shade; even partial sunlight yields a poor lawn. If there are any trees in the south of the garden, they should be pruned so that sunlight to the grass is not obstructed.

Six hours of unhampered sunlight is sufficient to get a lush green carpet, if other factors are congenial.

Soil Preparation

Grass is a shallow rooter. It sends new shoots from under the soil so it is essential to have well,prepared and soft topsoil. If you are preparing the lawn afresh, dig 30 centimetres deep (12 inches) three or four times, at weekly intervals, removing the weeds each time. The soil will become of a fine tilth by doing this.

Then add the manure at the rate of one kilo for every square metre. Blend it nicely into the topsoil. If the soil has excess clay, mix in some sawdust. Water the lawn thoroughly two to three times a week. Wait for the weed seeds to sprout from the manure. Then you can remove them along with their roots. Level the soil and plant your grass.

Which grass? The most successful and favorite is, of course, the 'Calcutta Doob' especially 'Selection Number 1' (cynodon dactylon). It is a shallow rooter but tough and resilient. Very drought tolerant. Not so suitable for the hills as it is frost/snow sensitive. Other choices are Japanese grass (Zoysia Japonica), Korean grass or Mexican grass (Zoysia Tenuifolia). These grasses have relatively deeper roots and a carpet' like tuft. Cold winter makes these turn brown but the lush green is regained in spring. Again, these are not appropriate for the temperate climate of the hills. Local grasses will do well there and these have to be ascertained and acquired locally.

Planting the grass is usually done by dibbling, Le. inserting small lumps of grass (uprooted from elsewhere) about six inches apart and a few inches deep into the prepared soil. Another method is turfing. Here 'carpets' of grass are brought from the nursery and patted on to the prepared lawn area. Presto!

Newly planted lawns need about two months to establish somewhat and during this time treading over the grass should be avoided.

Mowing the lawn regularly stimulates growth of new shoots giving a denser growth. Whenever the grass reaches a height of seven centimetres (3 inches), mow it down. If your lawn is really small, a pair of scissors can be used if a lawn, mower service is not available.

The main problem, maker Weed is the cypress nut. Its sword, like blades come out of the soil even after you have plucked them frequently. This is because it has a nut attached to its roots, which can feed new growth. But regular mowing and weed ,plucking can keep it in check. Left unchecked, it can literally overtake the grass.

Top dressing supplies nutrients to an existing lawn and a synthetic' fertilizer mixture or natural manure may be used. Manure has the disadvantage that it might contain weed seeds, but has the advantage that it provides humus and micro-nutrients which synthetic mixtures do not contain.

To facilitate the entry of-manure into the root zones of the grass, fork up the soil a bit, taking care not to pull out the roots. Then spread the manure and roll it with a roller (or if the lawn is small, stamp it with your feet!) A spoon of D.A.P. for every square metre of lawn. area can be blended into the manure for better results.

Autumn and spring are the seasons when the top dressing must be given.

Watering the lawn can be done using a sprinkler for big lawns or simply a hose for smaller ones. Just ensure water reaches about six inches deep to wet the grass roots. More water would be unnecessary and less non-functional.


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