‘An Englishman’s home is his castle...’ – Sir Edward Coke/The Institutes of the Laws of England 1628
But that was on the grand scale and it was not until the Industrial Revolution, when gardening changed with the building of small Victorian villa gardens, there came a breakthrough.
Lawns had decreased in size – you couldn’t exactly go scything around the place – until along came Edward Budding in 1830. His invention was the cylinder mower and so every man and woman in Britain could have a lawn with their ‘castle’.
The long, hot summer this year has done the lawn no favours but the grass quickly recovers. The problem is the ground may have also become compacted and bare and straggly areas indicate thatch that will need treating. After such dry spells it’s best to keep the cutting height on the mower raised to give the grass the chance to grow, while aerating/spiking and scarifying will aid drainage and remove decaying grass. If you use a powered scarifier on the garden tractor you can collect the debris afterwards with the powered collector.
Small areas of thatch can be raked out and overseeding applied to any bare patches. You can mix the seed with some garden compost, soil and sharp sand to help it establish when you spread it over the area to be seeded. Now is the time to apply an autumn lawn feed that is high in potassium after scarifying and aerating and before top dressing. Or use a three in one feed and weed treatment as directed on the pack and ensure it’s watered in if it is granular and there’s no rain for more than a couple of days after application.
If you have prepared an area for a new lawn it’s time to seed or lay turf. Back at the end of the Middle Ages ‘the site was cleared of all weeds and roots and the ground sterilised with boiling water. Turves cut from good grassland were then tamped down on the levelled earth.’ Much the same as today and while seeding can go ahead laying turves is best done towards the end of the month, through October and November, on dry days because you don’t want to be slopping about in the mud. Choose good turf showing no signs of weed, pest or disease, with good uniform colour, recently mown, plenty of white roots, good soil and uniform thickness.