Monday, 30 July 2012

Dog Tired Lawn

''If we're very good can we have a treat mum?''
Our dogs have changed our lives. Right now, as I’m in the final stages of setting up the website for our dog treat business I couldn’t be more aware of the changes that started when we got Barry our Gordon Setter X. A little later Barry was followed by Mars, a Gordon Setter who's convinced he's a lap dog! This blog has been a long time in the making, but it always lacked that essential starting point, and our sorry excuse for a lawn seems to have given it just that. I’ll be blogging on everything doggy, with my two there’s never a shortage of things to write about.

Barry and Mars are big boisterous dogs who seem hell bent on leaving me lawnless. Between artful slides, chasing in ever decreasing circles and peeing with wild abandon I’ve begun to feel live giving up on the lawn, they certainly have no plans to give up playing on it!

So, when my mum won a competition for Gardeners Question Time at Tatton Park and we were asked to submit a question, I saw my chance to ask the experts… Sadly my question wasn’t chosen. Initially I thought this might be because my question lacked the necessary razzle dazzle; however, throughout the day I had the slow realisation that perhaps they just thought I was a lost cause. So I came home from a fantastic day at RHS Tatton Park Show, full of enthusiasm for creating the kind of garden that was more relaxing haven than dog play pit.

A little bit of a back story on the history of our lawn… We moved into our new house a few months ago, and the lawn had been totally destroyed by the previous occupants children (so maybe the dogs aren’t that bad!). The lawn was a combination of bare patches, weeds and over grown grass. So we cut the lawn, and reseeded with a generic lawn seed, months on it’s not a success. The constant rain has left us with a sodden lawn that’s being trashed by two big dogs. We have a separate paved area so the dogs can’t always make it out on the grass, but playing fetch and watching the pair of them bounce around on the grass is way too much fun to keep them off it all the time.
B&M think the lawn is a race track!
So, how do you get the lawn looking fabulous? It seems that you can take a few different approaches to getting it right. Firstly, it seems that when I decided all grass seed was the same I was sorely mistaken. After trawling the internet doing my research, I decided to ask an expert, and came across Jack Wilkinson of Lawns UK, he pointed me in the right direction and explained the importance of using the right seed in the first place. As I’d already seeded my lawn, without success Jack explained that I could overseed the lawn with a more hardwearing mix. For more info about getting the right seed their website gives plenty of info  Sadly the only problem with reseeding is that you have to keep the dogs off it whilst the seed establishes. So I’m going to have a crack with their Dogs & Sprogs mix and will let you know how I get on!

There are also products on the market designed treat and reseed smaller patches that contain gypsum, which is alleged to neutralise the nitrogen which causes your yellow patches (although the jury seems to be out on the effectiveness of gypsum or lime as an additive!). These products contain coir (a special growing medium) and are reported to get really quick results for small areas. The down side is that these products aren’t cheap, so I’m going to hold off for a while! 

Our lawn is very far from lush!
There is a great looking product on the market called Dog Rocks. They work by absorbing some of the impurities in a dogs drinking water that contribute to burnt patches on the lawn (like the ones you see in the photo of my lawn to the right!). They get really positive reviews so I'm going to trial these to see if they help to prevent the dead patches in the first place. I spoke to Chris at Dog Rocks UK as after I’d done my own research into the rocks I was convinced they’d stay in the bowl for two minutes before the dogs dragged them out. Chris suggested putting them in a jug of water and leaving them for a few hours to do their thing before pouring the water into the bowl. You can read about the science of Dog Rocks on their website Sadly the Dog Rocks take about 5 weeks to start to work, so again not a quick fix but definitely worth it if I can stop trailing behind the dogs like a mad woman with a watering can! I'll keep you up to date with how we get on.

 Having a good poke around the net there are a number of products on the market designed to give you a helping hand with the lawn, but I’ll be just testing a few of them. With everything from dog loos to Astroturf there are lots of potential solutions but I’ve decided to keep it cheap, easy and hopefully cheerful. I’ll report back over the coming months to let you know my results, and will post the odd photo so you can see how I’m doing. So, whilst I keep looking for solutions I'm pretty sure I'll never achieve a bowling green, but watch this space.

I'd love to hear from you if you if you have any tips for me, or you want to share something that's worked for you and your lawn. I'll do my best to answer any questions and will keep readers updated with how we're all getting on!

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