THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Jan27

The Most Important Lawncare Question

The most important lawncare question…

is what do you want your lawn to do?

If you want a fine, green, healthy, thick, lush, short sward that is moss free, your children can play football on when it rains, cricket on when it is bone dry, the dog can urinate all over and can take a marquee stuck on top of it for a week… then you will need to invest a lot of resources to make that happen.

But if you want a hard-wearing lawn that looks good – that is possible, and can be achieved with a few simple treatments and a recommended cutting height, with sharp mower blades, at regular intervals through the year.

Let’s be clear – a lawn is a big, dull monoculture that requires labour intensive work. It is not our idea of a modern garden feature for a modern lifestyle. But we have found most people insist on one, no matter the cost. (Click on the ads on this page to discover what you can buy for your lawn!)

Is this due to a lack of alternatives?

The chamomile lawn is muted as an option (still needs weeding) or matting with gravel on top (not good for the soil below.) Artificial lawn, moss and sedum lack a certain romance. Some have begun sowing meadows (the most important meadow question? What do you want your meadow to look like? Simple, modern gardening always seems to start with a riff on this question…) which we love, but it requires a lot of thought in the setting up and establishing of. If you don’t have the patience or the long term vision, then a meadow may not be the option for you.

We would like to propose one other option though. Have a lawn. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure. But if you have a lawn, do it properly. Have the ‘lawniest of lawns’ – the lushest, most verdant, well shaped and striped lawn you can achieve – take your lawn to the max and don’t apologise for doing so.

But don’t make it too big. Make it… just big enough, that it gives you that pleasant, restful sense that a large canvas of green gives. Then around it, using the remaining space that was previously just more lawn, put in ornamental grasses. Satiate the area with their dancing flowerheads.

The contrast between the mown lawn and the ornamental grass will look magnificent. The longer, undisturbed grass is a haven for wildlife. The work required to maintain it? Minimal. You get your fine lawn (the finest lawn!) and save yourself the hassle of mowing, strimming, edging and tidying every week. A bold move, but we think a fine one.

Take a look at this pool lawn designed by Tom Stuart Smith. It is the first and ninth picture of the Cheshire garden photos. It’s a great take on a pool garden lawn and really makes us laugh. Would you be brave enough to go for something like this?

If you live in Essex or the surrounding regions and want to improve your lawn, or do something great like sow a meadow, Modern Mint can provide you with a simple, good value programme.

But before you call us, have a think about what it is you want from your lawn. It is, after all, the most important question.

(And you can have your questions answered here – the simplest lawncare book… it’s a must-have if you insist on a perfect lawn…!)

 

Apr28

Phillyrea From 1682

Worlidge Phillyrea

Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a  reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …

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Apr27

Kites And Strings Podcast – Topiary In The Garden

kites and strings podcast

Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …

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Apr27

Robinia – Pruning A Beautiful Tree For Small Gardens

topiary Robinia

Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …

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