Well, we are officially over the Winter solstice and the days are, apparently, getting longer again although the cold chill of winter still holds us and our lawns in its icy clutches.
Rooting through the garden shed following Christmas, and dislodging a cosy looking mouse from the dry grass nest he had squirrelled (moused?) under the rotor blade of the mower did make me consider – when should I be taking this lethal grass mowing weapon back to the lawn to do its duty once more? The lawn looks a little shabby at the moment, could I give it quick smarten up if the weather looks kind?
And the weather does not seem too bad. In fact, I have heard the sounds of the odd petrol mower bouncing across the valley sides following our extended Christmas break, although I am not too sure if my electric Briggs & Stratton is quite ready for the wet mess that I shall have to accept is currently my existing lawn.
However, we must remember we are still in January and although we may be having a run of mild weather and soggy lawns may appear a little dryer following a little winter sun, Jack Frost is still only lurking around the corner! We all remember the cold chills and snows of February 2014…
Having a little time on your hands this time of the year could well be deemed a bad thing, and anyone wishing to break with convention (we do call it that for a reason) should ideally not do so and leave their lawn as it is for the next few weeks at least. Please be assured that if some minor cropping is required, such as the mother in law coming for tea, or any such emergency and the lawn really does look a mess, set the blade to its highest setting and smarten the lawn by using the roller as much as anything, with the actual cutting being the least noticeable operation. Keep an eye on the weather and keep Operation Mow to the mildest times, avoiding, where possible, any clear, cold days with the sureness of a frost that night.
Naturally, do this when the lawn is as dry as possible and use a broom to ‘sweep’ the grass beforehand, knocking off excess water droplets from the grass stems.
Electric mowers like mine, although good quality, do tend to struggle with wet grass, so please be aware of this before you frazzle a motor, and petrol’s may benefit, as do both rotary and cylinder designs, whatever their power source, from a service and a blade sharpen this time of year – treat this season a little like their rest and recuperation period, before asking them to deal with the hard work the rapid growth of Spring and early Summer shall bring with them!
Soggy lawn? Consider using a spiked roller/aerator to encourage drainage and aeration and use simple common sense – avoid walking away from the path and steer clear of extra muddy areas before fresh spring growth comes afresh – you can always add a little over-seed come early March when ground temperatures rise a little. A grass seed needs a minimum of 8 degrees Centigrade ground temperature to germinate, so please consider this when planning any New Year seeding operations. Keep plans merely plans until early March when temperatures have steadily risen before following our over-seeding or re-seeding instructions and let any late snows and frosts pass.
With a combination of using your lawn as a launch platform for fireworks back in November, plus the addition of the dog walking over it (and, to the delight of the woman of the house, walking mud all over the new carpet indoors) all winter, reindeer touching down on it on Christmas Eve and drunken New Year shenanigans, your lawn has been rolling with the punches thrown by a top-class prize fighter for the last few months, so give it a little slack this time of the year.
And the mouse? Probably back in his cosy nest by now, until it’s time to sharpen the blades!