Top class turfs

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robint
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Top class turfs

It might seem rather stating the obvious but never having been involved at those exhalted levels, ive only come to realise through watching youtube vids by prefessionals what an immense amount of knowledg and experience is required to produce flawless bowling greens, cricket pitches, golf greens etc and its a daily ritual for 9 months of the year requiring precision mowing

 

Are there any real groundsmen on this board?

hillsider
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I don't know about groundsmen

I don't know about groundsmen but some of our number have considerable experience at looking after the machinery that makes their work possible. 

Antbr123
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Hi Robint,

Hi Robint,

I wouldn't call myself a groundsman - but I did study ecology of grass at university and had to get to know the different species etc.  I also have numerous books on the subject.  Was there something specific you had in mind?

I agree - members here obviously have an interest in the equipment, but while it may be sacrilegious to write this, a lawn mower was only ever designed to be a tool to achieve a desired result.  However there is a lot more to creating a lawn/pitch/green than using a good mower - even if it helps!  Unfortunately, I have a soft spot for the poor old grass plant, which un-deservingly gets forgotten about and all to frequently its needs are totally ignored.  As for astro-turf.......enough said!!

Antbr123 (Tony)
Consider grass in terms of how you would like to be treated yourself - and you won't go wrong!

robint
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Hi thanx for those kind words

Hi thanx for those kind words which only go on to show my own glaring lack of knowledge on the subject.  My quest all started because of the appaling treatment my neighborhood grassy embankment receives from the councils vandalistic contractors. Last year the contractor left the grass to grow 8-10" tall well into mid April before they came along with strimmers which left piles of thatch behind and this meant the turf rotted underneath.  This poor service waiting 6 weeks between cuttings (no collection) went on for the growing season.  The result has been a large accumulation of mulch with the turf struggling to grow through it and also numerous bare patches left behind.

Our embankment consists of a level portion ca 10m wide and then a 45 deg slope down for say 15m.  For reasons I dont understand the sloping part of the turf does not suffer from the predations of strimmers to the same effect.  The level part used by the Public is the worst affected. I complained to the council and asked for rotary mulching mowers to be used on the level part and to increase to a monthly cut.   In the meantime I became interested in old fashioned cylinder mowers and saw how they produced a superior care of turf so I got my vgc Marquis but have been unable to use it due to the drought.  The turf is now in a pitiable state but the weeds are flourishing like mad.  It all looks very shabby.  My aim was to mow the level part regularly/week and keep the weeds down - a bit obvious?

My next plan is to try and rake up all this carpet of mulch.  This is very laborious by hand - 2000 m2.  I have acquired an anzani Lawnrider mk3 in original condition (same family 50+yrs).  This is a fascinating contraption with several versatile features eg raise/lower cylinder with a hand lever.  I have an idea to replace the cylinder with a wooden roll which will be fitted with spring steel piano wire brushes (bit like a large wire brush)  and use this to scarify the turf and aerate the roots.  I may have to go over it with the Marquis to scoop up the fluff created.  I feel this is what is needed to help the turf recover.

What is your opinion on this plan?

Antbr123
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Wow!  You have a project on

Wow!  You have a project on your hand there.  I think you are right to focus on the  level area - but I suspect each area (level and slope) will have its own different problems and a serious consideration needs to be asked - what do you hope to achieve by all of this work. The reason I ask this is because certain situational factors are out of your control and limit the extent of improvement possible. Your situation and detailed description of the problem is typical of local authority maintained areas and a certain level of personal intervention will no doubt be appreciated by the neighbourhood, but a detailed site analysis is required to determine the extent of the improvement likely to be achieved.  Such analysis should include an understanding of:-

1.  Soil ph

2.  Compaction of soil by the public and degree of wear and tear from walking on it

3.  Grass species and weeds present - (I suspect standard  perennial ryegrass with wild grass seeds, annual meadow grass etc) and the usual moss, deep thatch, plantains, dandelions etc!!

4.  Aspect/shade considerations

5.  Drainage

6.  Level of fertility - I suspect poor as likely to not have been fed.

 

Without a detailed analysis of this - its difficult to know where to start.  Your suggested plan of de-thatching will certainly help and now it the right time to do this.....Contrary to what many people believe, grass does not die in the summer, it goes through various stages of growth through the year and during summer the plant actually become significantly more fibrous with less water content.  As a plant it focuses on producing seed heads, transferring energy from growth to maintenance of a reproductive state.  This is just one reason why,as you noted, the infrequent mowing by contractors has a detrimental affect on the grass.  Regular cutting (or ex-foliation as it is called)  gives rise to 2 interesting effects in grass.  1.  Increase in the size of existing tillers at the stem apex and 2.  Tiller production itself.  The position of the stem apex in the grass is important (ie how high it is)  Close cutting of some grasses removes this stem apex - thereby cutting of the ability for the grass to develop new leaves.  Alternatively in some species, leaving the grass too long and removing too much at once leaves a grass sward thin with a poor distribution of tillers.  Regular cutting promotes tiller production even in ryegrass during its vegetative state during the summer.  

 

Your plan regarding de-thatching should work - although I wonder how close you might be to a power socket and perhaps consider using a scarifier with a series of extension leads.  I admit - The distance may be to long.  But be careful in de-thatching - it will allow greater air circulation to the grass, but may also expose soil which in turn allows moss to invade.  I suspect to get even ryegrass to look good, you need to think about sward density and its ability to restrict weed invasion - and on 2000 sq m that could be expensive. Also the tines made out of piano wire should be bent and not straight....I would also mow the area quite short before de-thatching....preferably just before it rains.

Hope I haven't put you off the idea - and I am fully supportive of anyone who takes on such a challenge to improve neighbourhoods.  I could write a thesis on this!.  If the intention is to eventually create a grass sward which look good and responds well to mowing, then a mixture containing finer grass species will be required, including, bents and some fescue species.  These are reasonably drought tolerant and respond well to close cutting - but not being left for weeks on end - but incorporation will require the area to be fed, over-sown and watered to become established.  It is also not cheap!!  Hurrells seeds(on the web) is a good source. Good luck and any further info or questions - feel free to drop me an email.

Tony

Antbr123 (Tony)
Consider grass in terms of how you would like to be treated yourself - and you won't go wrong!

robint
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Hi Tone  to answer

Hi Tone  to answer

1.  Soil ph Its a chalk Down

2.  Compaction of soil by the public and degree of wear and tear from walking on it - Very light mainly few dog walkers

3.  Grass species and weeds present - (I suspect standard  perennial ryegrass with wild grass seeds, annual meadow grass etc) and the usual moss, deep thatch, plantains, dandelions etc!!  Its practically all weeds now, dont know about grass species other than couch grass

4.  Aspect/shade considerations Open vista

5.  Drainage well drained

6.  Level of fertility - I suspect poor as likely to not have been fed. probably very poor never fed

It looks terrible now, lots of bare matted patches.  My idea was to mow to 2" to lop off the weeds - really bad, taken over, scarify with seed/fertiliser spreader (Scotts)  just before a likely period of rain.  I wondered to put the spreader in front of the scarifier roll so it all gets raked in so to speak all in one pass.  Can I plant in September/October or must I wait till next March?  I cant do any watering unless I start harvesting rainwater

 

With my motorised ride on Anzani

Looks a bit back to the future but its all there and notice the tilting front cylinder operated by a lever.  replace the cylinder with a scarifier roll?

Well thats the theory.

Early April I attacked a patch of Common Bugloss, grubbed up the roots with a special tool, raked and seeded (just general purpose lawn seed from wickes), raked again and 6 weeks later had a fine crop of new young grass 2" high.  Even now its doing much better than surrounding grass but bugloss is back with attitude.  Even that patch ca 5m2 was gutty enough for my old bones.  Hence the pursuit of power

Cant do much till I get that thick mat of thatch up and collected I think

What sort of cutting regime should I aim for  4" to 2".  Its just a public area for dog walkers (who love it cos its safe and fenced from the road)

googl maps image

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.3798352,0.5082949,3a,75y,20.87h,79.12t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1sJff8zhllBXEsMsdncwyEAA!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo3.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DJff8zhllBXEsMsdncwyEAA%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dsearch.TACTILE.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D96%26h%3D64%26yaw%3D350.3996%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100

 

 

 

See the new grass I planted in the foreground, the damage by strimmers in the middle

and they used a rotary in the top part

This used to be a lush turf last year

How can I hold a Council to account for this vandalism?

Antbr123
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Hi Robint

Hi Robint

Firstly any grass seeding needs to be done by mid-sept latest.  Germination rates drop significantly and take much longer after this date due to cold soils. The seeds need soil warmth.  Leave it later and you may get some germination, but it could be patchy.

Cutting height should be on new grass literally when it is about 1-1.5 inch high and only give it a very light hair cut.  This will promote tillering.  When established I would go for 2 inch height as a general rule, but if it is longer after winter heights only gradually reduce the height - otherwise the grass turns white!  Never go below 1-1.5 inch height for the summer and preferably slightly longer to prevent the grass roots drying out. During the two active growing cycles in the year (April-June and Late Aug-end Sept) you cannot afford to reduce the cutting height - but always keep the grass longer in summer - 4 inch is too long, 1 inch too short.

Regular moving will remove some weeds due to the stress imposed.  Persistent weeds eg dandelion, plantain etc really need to be sprayed out.  Remove grass cutting otherwise thatch will build up again.  I compost mine, mix with soil improver and washed horticultural sand to create a top dressing.  You are at least a year away from having to do this yet. Then apply through a riddle - but I don't have 2000 sq ft to treat.  I would also think about inventing a rotary brush - it may help with top dressing and seed spreading, although I use a hand held scotts fertilier spreader which can treat large areas.

Where in the country are you?  Give me a ring 07775641907 and we can discuss easier than on message boards. I attach a couple of pics of my lawn which I adopted when we moved into the house.  It was knee high, full of weeds, uneven - basically pasture land!

regards,

 

 

Antbr123 (Tony)
Consider grass in terms of how you would like to be treated yourself - and you won't go wrong!

robint
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HiTone

HiTone

 

Thanx for the professional view of turf care.  Its very enlightening.  I am only an amateur light gardener not at all skilled horticulture

I had an accident with my Anzani , it ran over me coming down a ramp - stupid boy pike - and I fell flat on my back - very winded and lots of sprained muscles but no real damage so I am pumped up with codeine for the next few days (codeine not working - Naproxen and Tramadol - floats my boat)

Can you suggest a simple small book on turfing for dummies, so I can get more informed with less dumb questions I hope

I am in Rochester,Kent and will call in a couple of days when I am less woozy - when is convenient?

Perhaps I might post a list of topics for discussion eg

weed killers.  So many competing claims leave me flummoxed. there used to be a broad leaf killer for lawns 2 4 5 t?

Mixed seed fertilizer weed killer packs by Westland, evergreen  etc - any good or a gimmick. I am suspicious of garden centres, Wicks, Wilko products - if it sounds too good to be true.....

I used Johnson economy seed ca 50 g/m2 it worked but dont know how good it is, not mowing in this drought. Its ca 4" after 5 months. Should I bring out the rotary and skim it to 2"

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Grass-Lawn-Seed-Johnsons-Economy-with-Rye-250...

Checked Hurrells = 

HM.4 Public Open Spaces Grass Seed Mix (HM4) = is this right?

£24inc pnp  5kg  would this be ok next April if I couldnt sow soonest?

so I could do the sward for 6 bungalows = a good start test patch - now I need an action plan for over sow, do I spot treat all the flat weeds like plantain, dandelion etc first.  Need to leave this fallow for a while? You see why I dont know what I am doing

Amazing no mower has ever queried this on this board - across the pond the cousins take time to understand about their turf not just machines.  I guess its the way housing is built with open grassed front yards and a draconian CCC watch dog that gets stroppy if you dont take care of your turf

obtw, which scots spreader? - there is a trough with holes in the bottom very basic and cheap or the rotary thrower type ca £30 giving a 3m swathe with a 25k load. I would aim to tow this behind my ride on mower or would this be too fast 4mph

robint
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Hi Tone I did some browsing

Hi Tone I did some browsing and amazing, its not that easy to find a book on grass let alone a dummies guide to grass - what keywords to use  eg Manage your lawn and I get Handcuffs and Law enforcement anyway eventually I came across "improved grassland management" John Frame (who is something in Turf) £3 amazon, so hope Im in the right direction

Its not that easy to get genuine info on u tube as its full of opinionated old frats pushing prize bs and "look what a clever red neck I am boy".  Notice how these qucks always leave out some essential detail.  So you can waste a lot of time.  Like mowing sward thats clogged with thatch

I need a spiked roller.  The ones I ve seen on EB look useless, way too light and flimsy, not enough weight to get through the topsoil. I remember being sent out to fork a lawn after it rained. So these rotary spikes are not the same, forking goes straight up and down, roller produces an elongated holes and maybe pulls up some soil

Hmm send for SB Pike

Antbr123
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Hi Robint,

Hi Robint,

I suggest you Google "The lawn Expert" by Dr. D.G. Hessayon.  ISBN 0 903505 15 0  Printed and bound by pbi publications.  Its a bit dated but the advice is sound and I have seen it on-line but cannot remember where.

Research in agricultural reference books - particularly dairy farming - where grass production is key will give an insight into its biology, fertilisers (nitrogen and trace elements), grass species and management. One such book is Malcolm E Castle and Paul Watkins (1979).  Modern Milk Production.  Faber Books.  The other reference work is Halley, R.J and Soffe, R.J (1988) The Agricultural Notebook - 18th Edn.  Printed by Butterworths.  I have a copy as it was my university lecturers who wrote it.  Excellent reference manual.

 

regards,

Antbr123 (Tony)
Consider grass in terms of how you would like to be treated yourself - and you won't go wrong!

robint
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Hi Tone

Hi Tone

 

thanx for the leads, will follow them up. You would never know that grass was such a fine art

btw I found this, maybe too much bs for your tastes, but its this kind of pseudo shite that you tube throws up.

https://www.lawn-care-academy.com/calcium-chloride-uses.html  Calcium chloride for grass?  I never did like chemistry, its all a bit snake oil salesman stuff.

This has done my head in

https://www.lawn-care-academy.com/overseeding-lawns.html

I chased up those books in Amazon and was able to get them for a few quid each

there's a local bye law against cows on public open spaces.  I tried them on african pygmy goats for the slopes but they got all sniffy about elf n safety and goat pellets, even turned down muscovy ducks who could keep the outbreak of bugloss under control. I told the spotty council officer that they dont make a noise but if you upset them they will hiss all over you.

 

Cheers Robin

robint
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Waiting for books to arrive

Waiting for books to arrive which may enlighten me, but I find as I browse that I just get more confused by granpaws wise words of kerrapp

for example from Hurrells cat

 

0kg Vitax Weed 'N' Feed Extra 8-0-4+3.6%Fe Fertiliser, Moss Control, Weedkiller

               Combined fertiliser, moss control and weedkiller

   Triple action formulation that kills moss and controls weeds while providing essential nutrients to grass plants

  

Can be used throughout the growing season to control many broad-leaved weeds

 

   Supplied in slow release, granular form to ensure long lasting action and effects

  

The best method of application is via a calibrated Supaturf spreader

  

Dead moss and other debris should be raked out 10 to 14 days after application

  

Bare areas should be re-seeded after 28 days to prevent re-invasion by weeds

  

Apply at 62.5g/m2 (Covers 320m2)

 Weed ‘N’ Feed Extra contains 2,4-D, mecoprop-p and ferrous sulphate 

Vitax Spring Summer Fine Turf Fertiliser 11-5-5

  • High quality slow release mini-granular fertiliser 
  Spring and summer fertiliser that will deliver good all-round performance
  
Ideal balance of NPK to strengthen turf
  
Encourages better root development and harder growth
  
Dust free, uniform 1.5-3mm homogeneous mini granules
  
Consistent and dependable performance 
  
Ideal for easy and accurate application
  
Soluble nutrient sources produce quick green-up
  
Apply at 25-35g/m2 (Covers 572-800m2)

 

£41/20kg

0kg Vitax Weed 'N' Feed Extra 8-0-4+3.6%Fe Fertiliser, Moss Control, Weedkiller

               Combined fertiliser, moss control and weedkiller

   Triple action formulation that kills moss and controls weeds while providing essential nutrients to grass plants

  

Can be used throughout the growing season to control many broad-leaved weeds

 

   Supplied in slow release, granular form to ensure long lasting action and effects

  

The best method of application is via a calibrated Supaturf spreader

  

Dead moss and other debris should be raked out 10 to 14 days after application

  

Bare areas should be re-seeded after 28 days to prevent re-invasion by weeds

  

Apply at 62.5g/m2 (Covers 320m2)

 Weed ‘N’ Feed Extra contains 2,4-D, mecoprop-p and ferrous sulphate 

Vitax Spring Summer Fine Turf Fertiliser 11-5-5

  • High quality slow release mini-granular fertiliser 
  Spring and summer fertiliser that will deliver good all-round performance
  
Ideal balance of NPK to strengthen turf
  
Encourages better root development and harder growth
  
Dust free, uniform 1.5-3mm homogeneous mini granules
  
Consistent and dependable performance 
  
Ideal for easy and accurate application
  
Soluble nutrient sources produce quick green-up
  
Apply at 25-35g/m2 (Covers 572-800m2)

 

£41/20kg

***********************************

two competing claims for fertiliser, what do the NPK nos mean in practice?  What should I use, how do I find out

 

Is the one with the 24D weedkiller effective?

Its as clear as mud to me. They all claim to be SOOPER

Is there an app that works it all out?

Do I have to get a soil test for my amenity embankment

I tried using Resolva but this made an embarrassing brown patch.  Its supposed not to kill grass

What about SBK, claims to kill broad leaf weeds but its strong stuff if you get it wrong

Ive got a Roundup stick wipe you just contact the weed, never used before

 

Seems like its very easy to get it wrong

Robin

Antbr123
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OK - lets break this down for

OK - lets break this down for you.

Fertilisers combine three trace nutrient elements, nitrogen (greens the grass), phosphorous and potassium.  These are the numbers.  Abbreviated they are NPK. (Nitrogen = N, P = Phosporous and K = Potassium).  Each of these nutrients contribute something to the grass growth, but used in the wrong proportions and at the wrong time of year will give poor results and will be a waste of money.  You do not need to over-complicate your understanding of this...but follow these rules.

1.  The first number is always Nitrogen content.  Do not use high N content fertilisers in winter.  They can be used during the active growing season (spring/summer).  Most commercial fertilisers in retail stores have a high N content - it is what green the grass and makes people think they are doing good.....so they plaster it all over the lawn during winter as well!....My experience has been limited success with these and per kg they are expensive.  So I buy in bulk from specialist companies such as Hurrells.2. The second number is Phosphorous.  It aids root development, and flower/bud development.  3.  The third number is Potassium - it aids general plant growth and health. Fertiliser numbers may look like this 8-0-4.  This means there is 8 times as much Nitrogen as there is Phosphorous and twice as much Nitrogen to Potassium (4 x 2 = 8).

Winter feeding changes.  In winter because the grass is not growing you do not need Nitrogen (N), but the focus is on root and general plant health.  So you need a different fertiliser which has either a balanced NPK content - eg 4-4-4 or even 0-8-4....Note the low Nitrogen content in the first and zero N in the second.

 

Some fertilisers contain weedkillers/Moss control.  I find in life anything that tries to give you everything in one packet generally means a compromise somewhere on something. So I avoid these fertilisers/weedkiller combinations.  Sulphate (S04) of Iron = FES04 is used for moss control.  It turns it black and kills it.  Apply during autumn and winter up to late spring - but contrary to how this thread reads - I am generally against plastering chemicals, preferring a more organic approach where possible.  Moss loves wet weather.  Wet weather = much rain = drainage problems.  Address the drainage problem and moss reduces. Do not mix up with water at the wrong ratio...you will turn all of your grass black overnight!!

When it comes to weed control - I use a liquid sprayer and not a weedkiller combined with fertiliseror a granular weedkiller.  A knapsack sprayer with a pump handle for pressure and  with a spray nozzle that gives 1m wide flat spray pattern will allow coverage of large areas.  A number of websites sell them ranging from 25-150 quid.  Search Cooper Pegler sprayer CP3. Choose the right nozzle.

 

Finally if I may make a suggestion.  You stated you were on chalk which will be an alkaline soil.  Chalk is porous, it does not hold water well and hence will not hold nutrients.  Therefore you need to apply fertilisers more regularly than on clay soil....that gets expensive.....The Sussex downs are a chalk downland landscape of AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).  Generalising here, but Chalk land grass tends to be unique because it is poor in nutrients- it cannot hold them.  So if you intend to regularly fertilise....its a bit like throwing money down the drain....unless you are God and can fight nature!!

I have suggested you ring me rather than extend this thread too much further. Wait until the books arrive and hopefully all will be much clearer. In the meantime also look at this website www.lawnsmith.co.uk for general advice. 

regards,

 

Antbr123 (Tony)
Consider grass in terms of how you would like to be treated yourself - and you won't go wrong!

robint
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Ok Tone we have the makings

Ok Tone we have the makings of a rule based system for guidance and Downs for Dummies which I shall digest and ruminate.  Have looked at Lawnsmith site maybe some basic info there.  I have got some spot tools like the Roundup contact wiper type with wand so you dont have to bend. I can let loose on bugloss and other main broadleaf types. If this chalk down is porous maybe some kind of top dressing is needed to hold water? I will get hold of our local conservancy officers.  We have Capstone and the N Kent Down ANOB so they must know about suitable grasses .  Will be in touch when more up to speed.

Cheers

Robin

 

are you able to send me a pm?

Edda
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I don't profess to be a

I don't profess to be a groundsman but I pride myself in the condition of my lawn. I use a 1934 hand pushed 14 inch Certes 10 blade lawnmower (I also have the 16 inch version but I find the 14 inch much better) to cut the lawn every day and the lawnmower has to be razor sharp. I've been doing this for years now and in my opinion the three most important jobs to keeping a fine lawn are: cut the lawn every day in the summer months, verticut every six weeks and top dress and overseed in the Autumn.

 

 

 

wristpin
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As a former agriculturist

As a former agriculturist (many years ago!) who's training was in the growing of as much S22 rye grass as possible to feed hungry black and white and red and white bovines, it's good to see the restrained, knowledgeable  and reasoned posts  from ANTBR123  and the reasoned approach to domestic lawn keeping from EDDA.. 

Mowing the lawn every day may seem a bit anal  but unless one has started with a fine turf mix it is the practical approach to restraining the growth of coarse grasses (such as rye grass) while encouraging the growth of fine turf species such as bents and fescues that produce that result to be proud of. 

I can appreciate EDDA's preference for the 14" Certes over the 16" - it's a lot easier to push! 

Davel831
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Hi All

Hi All

          i have noticed that the certes 14 inch are similar to the dodo?  i have nver seen one come up fpr sale as yet, but i believe they are a fine hand mower?

Regards Dave 

Edda
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Hi Dave,

Hi Dave,

I'm a bit sad I have two 14 inch MK 6 certes with excellent grass box's and a 16 inch MK10, and yes they are as rare as hens teeth but the mechanical workings inside are excellent with numerous self aligning bearings and machined drive cogs. It takes me 10 minutes to do my lawn that's in 3 different directions.

Davel831
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Eddy

Eddy

        You have a fine lawn and i am jealous you have two mowers, i am looking for one! May i ask what height cut do you do in the summer and then in the winter.

 

regards Dave 

Antbr123
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@ wristpin - thanks for your

@ wristpin - thanks for your kind comments!  There is nothing better than the joy of creating a nice lawn using a quality mower.  I can still smell the S22 and clover when silage making!

@ Edda - I could not agree more with your advice and recommendations.  I use my hand push JP Maxees to cut my lawn and my motorised Atco if I want a bit of grunt - (we all get caught out some times) and I certainly cut 3-4 times a week during the active growing season and always when it is bone dry, grass bruises so easily....I am quite envious of your 10 blade....it certainly produces a much finer cut than 6 or even 5...which were probably introduced as cost cutting measures?  What do you use for verticut?  Another machine?

@ robint- your post mentioned that you had 2000 sq m to look after.  If you are considering top dressing - then be prepared to allow for tractor and trailer access as (and I am not joking) I expect you would need 40 ton deliveries of lawn dressing every year.  The problem you face is scalability of the necessary actions to create a good lawn, coupled with being on chalk soil which is alkaline.  The best possible lawns are on slightly acid soils - loam/clay soils - so you will be fighting nature and geology because of where you live.  If you want to understand soils better - look at a couple of books.  Brian T Bunting (1967) The Geography of Soil.  Hutchinson University Library and Ken Simpson(1987) Soil.  Longman Handbooks in Agriculture (Excellent and highly recommended) 

 

regards

 

Antbr123 (Tony)
Consider grass in terms of how you would like to be treated yourself - and you won't go wrong!

NM
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Two nice looking lawns. Do

Two nice looking lawns. Do you you still use T200 to measure when to start top-dressing in spring, or have I forgotten the numbers, or has it been superseded?

robint
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just shows that what I know

just shows that what I know about grass wouldnt fill the back of a postage stamp - holy mowers batman

Robin

wristpin
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I can still smell the S22 and

I can still smell the S22 and clover when silage making!

And nothing like the sweet smell of good silage when feeding it on a cold and frosty morning - providing the maker knew his acetics from his butyrics! No metered additives in my day, just molasses from a watering can!

Edda
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Dave,

Dave,

 

I cut my lawn height about 7/8mm in the summer months and I use a preset Ransomers Ascot probably about 20mm (another rare mower) in the winter weather permitting. Don't forget the shorter you cut the turf makes its harder to maintain because its more susceptible to disease and weeds. My lawn is North West facing and parts don't get much sun so there's  a constant battle to make sure the grasses don't get too sparse in certain area's, also lately I have started to swish the lawn every morning because of the colder mornings. 

Harvey
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robint and all, a most

robint and all, a most interesting thread...... but I am going to throw a spanner in the works .....I am almost certain that the use of ride on powered lawnmowers and even any lawnmower which is power driven needs to have appropriate licencing and possibly other associated legalities if used in a public space which I understand that robint is intending to do.

I am also now looking at my lawn with a slightly increased degree of dismay...

Harvey

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Absolutely correct, plus road

Absolutely correct, plus road traffic act third party insurance and public liability. Then if it even crosses a road there’s DVLA registration, reg plates and annual renewal of the exemption for road tax.   - even for a pedestrian operated self propelled mower.

In fact, even if you use a self propelled mower on the verge outside your property the above could be enforced. 

robint
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This is how fake news gets

This is how fake news gets started

 

RTA 1988

189 Certain vehicles not to be treated as motor vehicles.

(1)For the purposes of the Road Traffic Acts—

(a)a mechanically propelled vehicle being an implement for cutting grass which is controlled by a pedestrian and is not capable of being used or adapted for any other purpose,

is to be treated as not being a motor vehicle.

Which is why you no longer see motor mowers with reg plates

You are not required to have TP insurance unless you intend to drive on the public highway

Antbr123
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Yep and those were the days

@ Wristpin - Yep and those were the days when big bales didn't exist, made in big silage clamps and you ran the risk running up and down the heap of grass with the tractor looking over a cliff!  I just loved the smell of those molasses.  No plastic sheeting in those days, and little consideration to effluent run-off either....On a wider note it will be interesting to see what agricultural practices change after Brexit....where did you study by the way.  I was at Seale Hayne, Newton Abbot, Devon.

Antbr123 (Tony)
Consider grass in terms of how you would like to be treated yourself - and you won't go wrong!

wristpin
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In the late 40s my Dad's

In the late 40s my Dad's silage clamps were 20' diameter "cakes “- willow poles, pig netting and Sisalcraft paper. Then progressed to a pit clamp and sectional concrete walled one. Pre forage harvester - Wilder Cutlift green crop loader. Then cam the Albion flail  forager - could hear it two counties away! 

NDA and NDAgE at the then Essex Institute of Agriculture Writtle, now just Writtle College.  Writtle used  to take Ag qualified graduates from other colleges, including Seale Hayne,  for the dedicated Farm Management  and Engineering courses. 

wristpin
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itWhich is why you no longer

itWhich is why you no longer see motor mowers with reg plates

Bit of a problem there as the public highway extends not from kerb to kerb but to hedge, ditch or wall and TP insurance is required and also for any self propelled vehicle operating in a place to which the public (paying or otherwise) have access, which as well as including the more obvious places such as shop car parks also covers show grounds etc.  So mowing the verge or any open space to which the public have access requires TP and public liability insurance.

Antbr123
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@NM - Now that is an

@NM - Now that is an interesting question!  T200 generally refers to the accumulative temperature days starting from 1st Jan and indicates approximately when nitrogen (N)  should be applied to grassland before cows are put out to grass.  In practice, the approximate date is about one month before the cows are let loose.....but it varies each year dependent upon prevailing weather conditions when T200 is reached.  Now, the use of this as a date as to whether you should top dress a lawn is interesting.  I have top dressed in May, way past the T200 date,  if it has been a long slow cold spring - the idea being that if the top dressing is left on the lawn too long and it rains a lot, many of the nutrients will be diluted.  Occasionally I top dress twice a year - I make my own up - and apply in late August/early September to coincide with the change of the weather and the start of the second phase of rapid grass growth.  Basically to provide supplementary feed.  I also vary the constituents of the top dressing - some years - its a little more sand - if it has been wet and moss control could be a problem.  But an interesting question....thanks.

Antbr123 (Tony)
Consider grass in terms of how you would like to be treated yourself - and you won't go wrong!

NM
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Hi Tony, that’s a very

Hi Tony, that’s a very detailed reply thankyou and yes you’re right that it was in an agricultural context. Isn’t potassium the most likely to be washed through the soil if it’s wet

Nick

Harvey
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Robin,

Robin,

I was just pointing out what I *thought* to be the case to alert you so that you could check out the facts for yourself.

I understood that you are planning on using your ride on Anzani though, not a pedestrian controlled mower.

Best of luck with it though, whatever.

Harvey

robint
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There is no "home " link on

There is no "home " link on this site, had to close and reopen

https://www.oldlawnmowerclub.co.uk/

on the first photo is a restored 'Zani lawnrider.  Notice how high up the OB is sitting, very high cog and narrow 18" bed.  Since she ran over me and put my back out Ive been considering outriders  GRRRR.  Can I get the seat post 6" lower, maybe fit an easy rider seat and apehanger bars and some rubber tyre outriders on the trailer seat

Antbr123
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Hi Nick - another interesting

Hi Nick - another interesting question and we are in danger of transgressing into advanced soil chemistry - but put simply, you are both correct and incorrect at the same time.

All nutrients can be broken down into two major classifications - major and trace elements.  Potassium K falls under the major category along with Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Calcium (Ca) Magnesium, Sulphur (S), Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H) and Oxygen (O).  Note some of these are also gases.  Trace elements include some of the weirdo chemicals such as Boron, Molybdenum and also iron, zinc and silicon.  Your question has 2 considerations to it.  The availability of K as a source and secondly the uptake of K to the plant.

The availability side first - all major elements are derived from underlying geology rocks with the particular exception of K.  This is because most originate from plant material decomposition, but Potassium is not a constituent of plant tissue.  Its function is to regulate osmosis and turgidity (ability to hold itself upright) of tissues.  OK - so where does it come from then??  It actually resides in the rock geology, particularly igneous and metamorphic rocks - think of volcanos.  Some of those rocks are extremely rich, some are very poor in K, but it is made available through slow weathering of rock minerals into available forms....or leaching if it is available in high concentrations.

Now the uptake by plants.  You are totally right - potassium is highly mobile both within soils and the plant itself, even to the point where it out-competes with other nutrients such as less mobile ions.  But the source of K can also dictate how easy it is to make it available to the plant for uptake.  Some clays fix or hold onto K making it unavailable to plants, particularly during summer months, only releasing it when the weather turns and thawing and freezing releases it.  On light textured soils where organic matter is low in the surface organic horizon - again you are right - it is leached very readily.  But in other soils more rich in organic matter, it is retained unless something intervenes causing the cation exchange to breakdown, in which case K is leached.  An example of this would be excess lime being applied on acidic soils.  Ok, you lower the ph, but you also lose the benefit of a major nutrient.....

Sorry for the long winded explanation and I hope to have expressed myself simply - its a complex area of soil science which because of its complexity frequently gets broken down into a few rules which in turn get diluted through chinese whispers resulting in over simplified practices, ignoring fundamentals such as whether the soil has itself any excess or shortage of the nutrients.  Furthermore it is quite easy to ignore our own interventionist practices which may inhibit nutrient availability.

 

What I will add is that your question took me back 30 years to my university days - and I shudder at that thought remembering some of the lectures we had where the chemistry content was high....!!

Antbr123 (Tony)
Consider grass in terms of how you would like to be treated yourself - and you won't go wrong!

robint
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Bring it on Tone

Bring it on Tone

I'm sold on soil

At the same time I can see through the ugly marketing tactics of the agro pharma bullies and all the disinformation they pedal.  My pal was a simple agrarian smallholder 100 acres 80% cereals 20 % sheep.  I asked him at the time (30 years ago) how he decided what to plant etc.  Being a rustic wurzel type he said he left it all to the man from the ministry who gave him written instructions what to do to maximise his EU CAP benefits.  Most of the time he was paid not to grow Rape and so on.  So he had sheep and a few heffers.  I daresay the MFTM would see through all the Agro Pharma over priced rubbish and advise accordingly

Now from what you are saying its all become a highly complex app.  I remember an excercise in Linear programming where you had some 6 types of fertiliser producing 6 results with 6 individual costs and you had to find the  optimal solution for the best return. You will probably remember that classical problem.  I daresay today the variables are so much more complex

Holy Guano Batman

This overheard on market day in the tap room of the club house  Invercockieleakie

http://farmingforum.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?11614-Fertiliser-Calcula...

Its a different world, they havent got past fert bags per acre, havent heard of Xcel and Solver or input cost benefit figs guess they leave it all to the MFTM.  Remember those Young Farmers socials and the horsey fillies

Oilers should never talk about anything electrical

NM
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Hi Tony. Another eloquent and

Hi Tony. Another eloquent and detailed answer thankyou. I’m not often correct and incorrect at the same time, more often just incorrect and things put simply are fine by me. You’re doing well to remember lectures from 30 years ago.

As you have said knowing your soil is fundamental in making decisions and what the purpose is. Lawns are very different to agricultural requirements where clover is often incorporated to fix nitrogen. However, doesn’t the plant reabsorb when needed.

Nick

robint
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I have seen these NPK soil

I have seen these NPK soil testing kits - do you rate them?

Antbr123
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Hi all - a couple of

Hi all - a couple of responses to try to clarify things.  Co-incidentally the questions from NM and Robint are inter-related and I will try to answer with my experience and (perhaps more dubiously) common sense rational thinking.

@) NM - yes plants will absorb nutrients when they need - but as already explained - it also depends on the ability of the soil to release those nutrients at the time that the plant wants them.  K as explained earlier is highly mobile....so imagine a grass sward with clover in which high N levels exist.  K is deficient, for what ever reason and you decide to apply some K fertiliser.  The effect could be quite startling.  K invades every where, plants gorge (especially clover) themselves, because it is so mobile, pushes out out other nutrients (particularly magnesium) and you end up with a grassland sward which could be dangerous to bovines due to the risk of bloat (a condition in which excess methane is created in the rumen of the animal and can result in death).  Another thing to consider is at what stage in the life-cycle is the plant.  If K is deficient in spring, then this is more of a problem than in the autumn - when the plant growth could have stopped and it could even be dying.  For plants that span multiple years - eg the oak tree, then the situation would naturally correct itself over time.  Finally we talk about "a plant" - but in reality all plant species require different levels of nutrient and we cannot treat them homogeneously.  It a complex web of inter-related phenomenon but as far as lawn maintenance goes, the general rule is higher N during early parts of the year until June/July, lower N in autumn, but higher P and K in autumn through the winter.  Now you may be interested in my reply to Robint below as well.

 

@) Robint - are soil testers any good and do I rate them.  Well the obvious answer is that there are some good and some bad but this does not help you much.  Yes they are fine  - but only of you know what you are doing with them.  Let me explain further.

If you are referring to those simple kits available in garden centers - then they would not be much use to a farmer who has 1000 hectares of cereals, half a million pounds tied up in capital equipment ( I am being conservative here) and relies on understanding his soil because it is his livelihood.  For that reason speciallist laboratory companies exist.  To further explain, it is necessary to understand exactly what the soil testing kit does for you and why they were introduced.

Poor soil kits only tell you one thing - the level of acidity of the soil - and even at this simplistic level - the information provided by the kit is ignored by Joe public who buy acidic loving plants and plonk them in ground unsuited to their needs. More complex soil kits include major nutrient analysis - typically our old friends NPK.  Ok - so far so good....we have bought our soil tester, sampled the soil and got a reading of acidity PH level, and NPK....what are we going to do now????? Do we add fertilisers, do we add lime, if so how much? The point I am making is that it is easy to spend money purchasing these things, but the resulting information they provide from their use is just information unless it is acted upon....and poor old Joe public who hasn't been to agricultural colleges would never have heard of The National Soil Index System  to be able to relate the information they have from their soil testing kit to anything.

 

The National Soil Index maps all soils in the UK according to geology - even where you all live.  I think it was developed by the Rothamstead Research Institute and it defines the characteristics of the soils,  and importantly, the latent fertility - the naturally occurring level of nutrients in that soil. It provides the baseline. It was designed to help farmers optimise their fertiliser programs to maximise crop yields.  Because differing crops or plant species need differing levels of nutrients, farmers could understand if the natural levels of fertility would be sufficient to get maximum crop yields, or whether they would need to add more nutrients through fertilisers etc. Add too much of something - and it is a waste of money -not least because of economic laws of diminishing returns.  Don't add enough and you may be missing out on crop yields and hence profits.

Hope I haven't put you off buying one!!

 

regards

 

Antbr123 (Tony)
Consider grass in terms of how you would like to be treated yourself - and you won't go wrong!

Antbr123
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Yes - Yes - Yes! - its

Yes - Yes - Yes! - its raining in the Midlands.  I've scarified, top dressed, fertilised and over seeded  last week-end and the seed has germinated and is now 5mm high - all in one week.  It was a bit of an experiment this year as normally I leave it to the end of the month.....but I had that feeling in "me old bones" that the weather was going to break and it has paid dividends. I have to admit that the seed I got from Hurrells was good and has germinated in a record time.  I cannot remember it happening so quick. Plenty of fescues and bent species.  We have some dry weather coming up soon - so it will be just right for giving the grass a light hair cut....

 

regards,

 

Antbr123 (Tony)
Consider grass in terms of how you would like to be treated yourself - and you won't go wrong!

wristpin
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could be dangerous to bovines

could be dangerous to bovines due to the risk of bloat (a condition in which excess methane is created in the rumen of the animal and can result in death).

Ha, Bloat (aka Hoven)! Walk them round, drench with molasses and if all else fails use the trocar and cannular - but put your fag out! 

Now were is my Fream's Elements of Agriculture?

 

NM
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Good lord, is this the

Good lord, is this the Archers forum?