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The 'New' Lawn Guide Review

Lawn_guideWe promised some feedback on The NEW Lawn Guide written by Philip Sharples. As this month is turning out to be so damn wet, plenty of time to sit back with a cool pint of ale and get to grips with what I promised to do..

'The Lawn Guide - your pathway to the perfect lawn' is the books strap line. My initial thought was that it lacked a personal Foreword by the Author.

Philip Sharples has been involved in the Professional Turf Industry for many years and we used to study Turf Culture together. Justification to the reader that the chap knows what he is talking about but little reference to it in the book to provide the reader with a warm feeling of having made a great purchase.

The book is nicely set out with a good Contents Page. The section covering Planning Your Lawn delves deep into the varying species of turf grasses with a great list of what species make up varying lawn qualities. No mention of the percentages of such species in a particular lawn mixture so some suggested seed labels examples aiding purchase of the seed mixture would be a handy reference that the reader could go armed with to the DIY Store of Garden Centre or Internet Shop.

A few more 'Tell, Show, Do pictures would aid the lawn owner in the section Preparing The Site and the subject of seeding a lawn and turfing a lawn quickly glossed over which is a shame.

There then follows 14 pages of Lawn Maintenance Operations and a useful Detailed Yearly Maintenance Planner that works through the lawns' year, month by month. A really useful guide that perhaps some of the Lawn Treatment Companies should refer back to in their work as they always seem to do some of the tasks listed in the wrong quarter of the year, let alone the wrong month!

There is a lot of wasted space in this section where a few photos would not go a miss. This Lawn Calendar is easier to read at a glance.

Mowing - now there is a topic! A good section but a few more details on types of mowers with pictures and diagrams of ways to mow would be really useful. This section could have included pictures and a few words on common failures of mowing practices such as the effects on the grass of mowing too close, infrequently, when the surface is too wet or even boggy. The fact that lawn grasses actually flower confuses people, especially when they are trying to mow the grass flower stalks or Bents, with a cylinder mower in the summer months.

Edging The Lawn is covered in the next section. There is half an empty page where some pictures of lawn edging tools could be shown so people know the difference between the tools available for the task.

Watering The Lawn is covered next. A subject that causes so much confusion as to how much and when and how. A topic covered well with perhaps an extra mention of Wetting Agents, Surfactants and Dry Patch to make better use of available water to the lawn owner.

Fertiliser_applicationstrong>Feeding The Lawn and Lawn Treatments just confuses the hell out of most lawn owners. Too many products doing almost the same thing on the shelves, with products simply being 'cherry picked' off the shelves with little point of sale information to assist in a purchase decision. Added to this, Staff who know nothing or little of the products on the shelf to help a customer.

The subject of Nutrition is covered well with excellent tables listing the formulation types of products available. What is needed are a few trade names or pictures, like a snapshot of a typical garden centre shelf with arrows pointing to the particular product against a reference in the table. There is a bad reference to only one feed per year for the majority of lawns.

This is why the majority of lawns in the UK are so poor - not enough feeding at regular intervals throughout the year. The requirement should be a minimum of three times a year or maybe four dependant upon the level of mowing and wear etc. How to Apply Fertiliser to Your Lawns

The next chapters covering the mechanical subjects of Aeration and Scarification are too amateur in their content when such good aeration and scarification equipment is available for hire to perform the task far better than the traditional common garden rake or fork. The equipment in the photos is too professional and large for the average lawn owners' garden access! If a lawn owner took the book to the hire shop asking for 'One of these please' the Chap at the service counter would not have a clue! If the lawn owner however asked for a Sisis Trio or Sisis MK4 Auto Rotorake Scarifiers or a Groundsman Industries 345HD Aerator, all three would fit through the garden gate and are available for hire.

Top Dressing is covered next and not to be confused with Fertilising. Three quarters of a blank page and not enough pictures showing 'How to top dress your lawn'. No mention of the textural analysis of top dressing materials such as Sand, Loam and Peat.

No clear mention of tools to aid ease of top dressing like the well used Trulute or Drag Mat. Overall an important topic, covered badly I am afraid.

Weed Control and Weed Management is covered well, but with little reference to application and application equipment. Incorrect application is the biggest failings of amatuer lawn owners. There could be more references and pictures to some of the more commonly available selective weed control products such as Verdone Extra and Lawn Clear and only eleven short lines on the subject of Total Weed Control. The more I read this chapter, the more incensed I became but there again I am a specialist in the subject area! The Weed Identification was good but not extensive.

My favourite section was Disease Control and Management. Great clear pictures and good accompanying technical but not too technical text. The main types of lawn disease are covered here. Fairy Rings can be controlled with the use of a Wetting Agent.

The next chapter covers Lawn Pests of which there are many! This section could have been similar in style and layout to Disease Control and Management as it is a very technical subject where the use of good images and diagrams makes the reading and absorption of the subject matter so much easier. Take a look at this example of a Lawn Pest - Leatherjackets and you will see what is really required.

The section covering Moss and Moss Control is inadequate in detailing the types of moss and adequate control and products available for control and timings of applications.

Organic Lawn Care is covered briefly, if a bit generalised. Something for the 'Green' amongst us.

Integrated Pest Management - Crikey - this to the uneducated amongst us, is the use of alternative methods of weed/pest/disease control to reduce the amount of pesticides we use, is a subject best left for the professionals and a topic that could have been included in Organic Lawn Care where good housekeeping eliminates the use of pesticides all together if this is the opinion of the lawn owner.

There are Top Tips on Watering Your Turf, Vertical Mowing or Scarification, Overseeding, Aeration, and General Advice. All these Top Tips should have been included in the relevant sections of the book and it strikes me that there were a few pages to fill or last minute thoughts on missed topics.

The book has Testimonies from some worthy turf industry characters, most of whom are known to me personally so sound conviction of their involvement.

Conclusion For the sum of £8.00 plus P&P The Lawn Guide is a useful management tool for the amateur lawn owner and a good read and worthy of having space on the gardening bookshelf. It breaks down some of the myths and taboos between amateur and professional lawn care techniques and problems. It could do with a lot more 'hands on' pictures that describe some of the mechanical and physical subjects in greater pictorial detail with supporting text.

We have no problem recommending The Lawn Guide to Lawn Owners, amateur or professional but we would like to see improvements in the second edition. It will soon be available in our Lawn Shop


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