Wedding reception in the garden? Lovely. Just as lovely as a summer party, or a BBQ with friends. Here’s how to impress your guests with a beautiful lawn.
Ohhh I do love a summer time get together. Everybody outdoors, eating and drinking, children running around, babies enjoying the shade, grannies in deck chairs. It’s great. But it does take its toll on the lawn.
Here’s how to make sure your lawn:
a) Provides a safe surface that ALL if your guests can enjoy
b) Stands up to all the wear and tear.
c) Earns you lots of compliments
I know, dull isn’t it. But if just one person takes a tumble or gets bitten by ants, the party atmosphere could be ruined. And with it your reputation as a host.
Level the surface
First job when preparing your lawn for a party is to fill in any holes or hollows. Gently undulations are fine – in fact I think they’re lovely. Potential ankle-turners or trip hazards need to go though.
It’s not difficult to do. Simply pop some screened topsoil into the hole, level the surface, sprinkle some grass seed on top and water it in. Keep the soil moist and within a week you’ll start to see a fine green fuzz appearing as the seeds germinate. Within 3-4 weeks, the grass will be growing strongly and all will be well.
This Patch Magic is great at filling in holes and at repairing bald patches in a lawn.
Get rid of any nasties.
By nasties I mean anything that could bite, prickle or otherwise annoy your guests. Doggy-do is a given but how about weeds and pests?
If you’re in hurry you may not have time to get rid of every weed in your lawn. You may not even want to get rid of them at all. I have clover and daisies in my lawn. They flower all summer and I like it that way.
If you still have a few weeks before the wedding you could apply a chemical weed killer to take out any broad-leaved weeds. It takes a while for the chemicals to work and then you will need to re-establish the grass where any bare patches have developed. This isn’t a last minute job.
If you are short of time you have two options.
1. is to dig out things like thistles that won’t be good for bare feet and then live with everything else.
2. Is to re-turf the lawn. If it’s near perfection that you want, then I’d recommend returfing. It’s not difficult to do yourself or you can call on the services of a professional landscaper.
These little blighters don’t harm your lawn in any way, but nobody wants creepy crawlies climbing up their legs during the speeches.
If you can see where the nests are – and you usually can- here’s an old wives trick that works very well and doesn’t involve poisons.
Take a few drops of peppermint essence – the stuff used in cooking – and dissolve them in a tablespoon full of vodka. Peppermint essence is an oil, it won’t disperse in water so I’m afraid you’ll have to sacrifice a little bit of alcohol. Now mix the peppermint-vodka with water in a spray bottle. Spray the ant’s nest liberally with the concoction. Ants hate peppermint. They’ll up sticks and move house straight away. If they move elsewhere on the lawn – keep spraying until they get the message.
Now let’s look at how you can toughen up your lawn so that it won’t be damaged by tents, picnic rugs, high heels and shenanigans.
If you have weeks to go, use a hollow-tine aerator to make little holes all over the lawn. This will allow water, air and nutrients to percolate down into the soil. The roots will have easier access to everything they need and will make a better job of nourishing and supporting the grass plants. The lawn will look a bit untidy for a few days but it’ll soon recover. in summer you’ll be rewarded with a stronger, greener sward.
Feeding your lawn
Do you feel invincible when you are hungy? No? Neither to I and neither will your lawn. Apply a good quality lawn feed exactly as the manufacturer suggests. Keep feeding every 6-8 weeks to keep your lawn in rude health. Use a spring summer fomulation between March and September.
This is my preferred choice of lawn feed – it has a good balance of nutrients, is easy to apply and it comes in a re-sealable bucket so you can keep the leftovers in the shed ready for next time.
Watering your lawn in summer
New turf MUST be watered. Established lawns really don’t need it. Not even if they do look a bit brown. Too much water will make the surface spongy and difficult to walk on. Not only that, it’s not very PC to pour this precious resource onto the lawn when the plants can survive perfectly well without it.
Don’t even think about letting the lawn get long and then scalping it. That’s no way to make plants strong and healthy. Mow little and often. Ideally, 2-3 times a week. Oh – and remove the clippings, it’ll look neater without them.
Keep your mower blades sharp and maintain the lawn somewhere between 2.5 and 4cm long. The plants will stay greener for longer if you let them keep a bit more leaf.
Now for the final flourish. Your lawn is level, it’s free from prickles and bitey things, it’s beautifully mown, well fed and healthy. For that finishing touch, give the edges a nice trim then stand back, sigh with relief and wait for the compliments.
After the party
To help your lawn recover quickly, pick up any debris ASAP after the party. Put away the picnic rugs, take down the gazebo, move the furniture off the lawn and get straight back to your regular mowing and feeding regime.