How to care for an ornamental lawn

How to care for an ornamental lawn
How to care for an ornamental lawn

Ah, the Great British Lawn, there’s nothing quite like it. Mowed to perfection with statement stripes and brilliantly green, weed & moss free grass – it truly is a site to behold.

But enjoying the finer things in life, such as a fine-leafed ornamental lawn, often means a lot of care and attention is required to keep it looking its very best.

Things to consider to care for an ornamental lawn:

Sowing / Overseeding

Most UK lawns are made up of a blend of grasses, most commonly perennial ryegrass and fescue. Perennial ryegrass is a broad-leafed grass, whilst fescue is a finer-leafed grass that gives a lawn its lushness. It also tolerates close mowing and dryer conditions, making it the perfect species for an ornamental lawn.

The best grass seed for an ornamental finish

If you want to achieve an ornamental lawn, it is best to go for a 100% fescue mix such as our STATEMENT: Front Lawn. However, please note that an ornamental lawn will not withstand heavy traffic and is intended just for show. You can overseed your current lawn with a 100% fescue mix to introduce some fineness. If you do this year after year, your lawn will eventually become an ornamental lawn. And it should be cared for as such! If you already have an ornamental lawn and want to introduce some new species to create a bowling green-style lawn for your home, you can use our PERFORM: Bowling Greens or PERFORM: Golf Greens.

These mixes are a 90:10 blend of fescue and browntop bentgrass. This well-known species is used in golf and bowls to create a dense and superior playing surface. To keep your fine lawn looking its finest, you should aim to overseed seasonally. The best times to sow seed are when the temperatures are consistently 8-10 degrees and above (day and night). There also needs to be no adverse weather conditions forecast (drought, floods, snow, frost). Typically, this means the best times to sow are in spring and autumn.

Overseeding helps to thicken your lawn and keep it healthy, as our UK weather can sometimes wreak havoc on your lawn despite giving it the best care. The processes involved in overseeding an ornamental lawn such as aeration, scarification, fertilising and top dressing – also help to prompt a good seasonal lawn care regime.

Fertilising

Just like us, lawns need nutrients to continue growing and thriving. To keep your lawn green all year round, it is important to adopt a regular fertiliser programme. We recommend that, at a minimum, you use two fertiliser applications a year. SLOW RELEASE: Spring / Summer from April / May onwards provides a steady feed for four months, followed by SLOW RELEASE: Autumn / Winter, which keeps your lawn disease free and protected from frost throughout the winter months.

Both applications will keep your lawn fertilised for eight months of the year. Between these times, you can use a quick-release fertiliser to boost your fine lawn. Our QUICK RELEASE: Pre-Seed gives a foundation feed for new seedlings, QUICK RELEASE: Spring / Summer provides instant greening – perfect for if you’re having guests around.

Scarification

All lawns will be subject to seasonal thatch (a build-up of moss and dead grass). And this needs to be raked out for your existing grass to thrive! Lawns can be scarified using a rake for a small area or electric scarifier for a large area. Whilst scarifying will leave some patchiness as dead grass and moss is removed, and it will look worse before it looks better, this process goes a long way to ensuring a pitch-perfect lawn.

Aeration

Aeration is the process of spiking your lawn to create air pockets/holes in the soil to allow for the free flow of air, nutrients and water. In short – it allows your lawn to ‘breathe’ and let all the good stuff in. A lawn's surface can easily become compacted with lots of use, causing the soil to harden and water to pool on the surface. Whilst compacted soils aren’t typically an issue in fine lawns that are well cared for, it is still good practice to aerate your lawn. This will ensure your grass gets the nutrients it needs to stay green and weed and disease free.

A lawn that is well-aerated will also prevent puddling on the surface. To find out how to aerate your lawn, read our aeration guide.

Top Dressing

Top dressing is applying a layer of organic matter to ‘top’ the lawn to level it out. And this will also improve the overall soil quality and drainage. Typically, homeowners will dress their lawns with topsoil. And the ideal soil for your seed to grow in (a combination of clay, sand and silt). Professionals, such as greenkeepers, regularly top dress their greens mostly with sand which aids drainage, prevent thatch build up and alleviates compaction. It is important to add only a thin layer or as much as you need to fill in dips in the lawn, as you do not want to alter the entire level of your lawn by adding too much.

Top dressing is the last step in your lawncare regime and should be applied after scarification, aeration and seeding.

Mowing

Ornamental mixes such as our STATEMENT: Front Lawn tolerate close mowing but perform best when they are mown to their recommended height – in this case 10 – 20 mm. Whilst this is the recommended height for regular in-season mowing, after overseeding or sowing a new ornamental lawn it is vitally important to mow on the highest setting on your lawn mower for the first mow before lowering it to the recommended height.

To secure the perfect mow, it is important to keep your lawn mower in good condition and always have sharp blades. They can damage your grass if you don't keep the blades sharp. Never mow when your grass is wet, and never leave clippings behind on your lawn. To create those statement stripes, you must have a lawnmower with a rear roller. This pushes the grass in different directions and causes the stripes to appear in two different shades.

You can read more in our guide: 'how to make the most of your mowing'.

Weed Removal  

Nothing spoils a perfect lawn more than a single weed sticking out like a sore thumb. This is why removing weeds as they appear is important. Most weeds are shallow rooting and can be dug out easily using a garden trowel. Make sure to remove all root material so that nothing is left behind in the soil. If you have left it late and the weeds have spread to more than you can dig out, try to use a selective weedkiller. It is also important to know the difference between weed and weed grass, so make sure to do your research. We have two guides that can help you with this;

So, there you have it; there’s a lot involved in creating the perfect ornamental lawn. But you will certainly earn your stripes when taking care of it!