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Velvety, verdant stripes of grass are a true British passion

Grassclippings - Lawn PassionBy my wristwatch it was 3.03am one night last week when the first fat rain fell. Plop, drop, plop writes Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail.

Woken by the noise, I rushed to the bedroom window to gawp at my poor, parched lawn.

In the middle of the night this was plainly a ridiculous thing to do, but I wanted to witness the moment the grass received its first drink for weeks. Would I hear the blades of grass smack their lips as they revived? Then there was the smell. The fragrance of fresh rain on arid turf is heavenly. Chanel should bottle it.

Why was I so obsessed about our lawn? It is not a particularly hearty specimen, as I have recently discovered. We have more flowery weeds than a West End chorus line. What is so special, to the British male, about his few square yards of greensward?

Having just made a Radio 4 documentary about lawns, I can tell you there are 15 million lawns in Britain, give or take a few, and they generate growth — both grassy and economic. Last year we spent £54 million on lawn fertilisers. We then forked out another £127 million on lawn mowers to cut the very same plots which had sprouted like billy-oh. Can this make sense?

In the Wirral, I visited Paul and Christine Davies, who have spent nine years creating a prize-winning, 1.3-acre lawn at their home. It was once a strawberry field and they showed me photographs of its former state: a jumble of fruit beds and agri-clutter. Now it’s a marvel of weed-free stripes, edges sharp as a teddy-boy’s sideburns.

A lawn expert, Mike Seaton, F.Inst.G(Dip), Managing Editor of Grass Clippings Lawn Advice Blog, came to inspect my lawn. Those initials after Mike’s name mark him down as a Fellow Member of the Institute of Groundsmanship. Mike is the lawn world’s equivalent of a Harley Street specialist.

I showed him our back lawn, which we like to think of as our best bit of turf. It was before the drought and the lawn was looking pretty splendid, though I say so myself.

Mike crouched down, had a quick rummage, pulled a face. ‘Eighty per cent weed,’ he declared.

Furthermore, with a quick glance at the patterns on the lawn he was able to tell precisely what type of lawn-mower I used — and that I needed to change the blade on my sit-on mower. Here was a herbicultural Hercule Poirot.

Read more on The Daily Mail


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