[Infographic] How to create your urban garden?
Leaving aside the misconception that lawns are hard work (a fallacy I am continually having to correct), there’s no shame in looking for ways to reduce the demands your gardening makes on your time. So it’s no surprise when, perhaps inspired by a beautiful countryside meadow, you think: “if I just left my lawn alone, wouldn’t I end up with a nice mix of grasses and pretty little flowering weeds?”
The answer is that you may do – or you may not; and would that still be a lawn anyway? It’s something I think about a lot and want to share with you here.
If you have a copy of my book, Modern Lawn Care, you will know that I encourage natural techniques without having to become an environmental evangelist. Most plants respond best to the treatment that nature intended; so our role, with our tools, fertilizers and effort, is simply to lend nature a hand. And surely that means that, if you don’t mind having teeny flowers in your lawn, there’s nothing wrong with allowing it to go ‘au naturel’?
In principle it’s simply a matter of personal taste. I actually quite like daisies and clover, and I enjoy watching the cycle of life that they attract too. And I also like a traditional green lawn with flowers in the beds that surround it rather than randomly scattered across it. But if you’re warming up to the idea of a countryside effect, let me offer a word of warning; it ain’t no low-maintenance option!
Garden shows such as Chelsea always exhibit a few beautiful designs that intermingle lawn and flowering plants. Remember, however, that these are manmade creations, not natural phenomena; and they require as much care and attention as the fussiest of flowerbeds. If you simply cut down your lawn care to a couple of mows a year, you will end up with grass that is struggling to thrive and a plethora of the tougher weeds like dandelions – and little else.
Our beautiful natural landscape exists because nature has, over thousands of years, established the right conditions for the plants. Neglected urban scrubland, by contrast, is where nature can’t cope; it’s where the soil is poor, the water irregular, and the nutrients inadequate. Simply leaving your lawn to revert to its natural state risks creating your own scrubland.
So, if you want something that would have Julie Andrews bursting into song you are going to need to put in the effort. Or – here’s an idea – why not cultivate a traditional green lawn? With the help given in my book, it becomes one of the lowest-maintenance items in the modern garden, yet it still plays a vital part in both our immediate environment and further afield.
David Hedges-Gower is the UK’s leading lawn expert and has more than 36 years of lawn and turf experience. Professional grounds people, landscape specialists, commercial property developers and leisure gardeners – have benefited from David’s enthusiasm and knowledge.
David is a National Trust advisor and was formerly advisor to Homebase, he is a regular on BBC Radio and a favourite on the national horticultural lecture circuit.
David’s fantastic new book on Modern Lawn Care extends his love for and knowledge of the topic. This is the first comprehensive and authoritative guide to lawn care for over 40 years!
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