Growing a sustainable lawn with Johnsons Lawn Seed
Finding the most appropriate grass seed for the conditions of your garden is the best place to start
11 March 2021
Fully embracing a truly green and sustainable lifestyle can require something of a rethink in both home and garden, as activities we once took for granted are measured against their environmental impact.
Many people are already making great strides in the reduction of single-use plastics, but there are other, less obvious aspects of our lifestyles where a little more planning and consideration can help us further towards our goal of sustainable living.
Whilst the benefits of gardening and grow-your-own are well documented, considerably less attention is paid to the ultimate green space, the resilience of grass itself. This is despite the fact that seasonal watering of millions of lawns takes up huge amounts of water – an increasingly precious resource.
The starting place for sustainable lawns begins with finding the most appropriate grass seed for the conditions of your garden. Once this is established, you can encourage your lawn to be more resilient by mowing it less and allowing grass to grow that little bit longer, which in turn permits the growth of butterfly and bee-friendly lawn flowers.
Johnsons Lawn Seed’s consumer manager, Guy Jenkins, said: “If we are going to look at all-round sustainability in the garden, it’s important to acknowledge that the most negative environmental impactors are chemical treatments and over-mowing.”
The typical pancake-flat green, which resembles a striped billiard table, totally void of weeds and flowers, might be fun to walk on but it’s a lot less friendly to the eco-system. “For those who are willing to forego this severe and formal style, sustainability is well within reach, especially if you choose the right seed to start with,” Jenkins added.
The very act of sowing seed rather than laying turf, also does much to increase the all-round sustainability of lawns. Turf is a heavy thing to shift, which means it has a far higher carbon footprint than easy to handle, light-weight seeds.
You should also identify the key stress factors that are likely to impact your lawn and choose your lawn seed accordingly. Stress factors can include family pets, barbecues and other forms of entertainment, children playing games, long periods in the sun without much water and so on.
“Don’t pick a seed which grows too quickly,” said Jenkins, “as you want to get the mower out as infrequently as possible. It is also important to choose a grass which is relatively drought-resistant, so you can avoid the hosepipe wherever possible. Selecting a grass variety which requires relatively little nutrition will also be cheaper to maintain as well as being more environmentally sound.”
“At Johnsons we measure grasses for their Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) and we’re always looking for grass plants with a high NUE rating. A lawn made of grasses with a high NUE can do well with very small amounts of feeding and their root structures are so big and so dense they can survive on considerably less water. We have also discovered that they are very resistant to dog pee!”
Johnsons Lawn seed’s Quick Lawn and Tuff Grass mixes, based on hard-wearing ryegrass and an element of fescue, are perfectly suited to the requirements of most garden lawns in the UK.
If a meadow is more your style you should use grasses with prettier seedheads, which means choosing a variety with more fescues in the mix, like Johnsons’ Shady Place formulation. Whilst they aren’t quite so hard-wearing as the ryegrass blends, fescues can cope with barely any additional nutrition – even growing out of drystone walls – so they are very low maintenance and beautiful to look at.
Once your lawn is established, put a little bit of thought into your mowing habits. Mr Jenkins points out that “The increasing number of electric robot mowers has really helped reduce the input of mowing is, especially if they are powered from a sustainable source. These mowers clip just a little from the grass, producing a finer lawn with reduced weeds, so you can get a lovely-looking finish without drowning your lawn in fertiliser or having to mow it with an industrial-strength cylinder mower several times a week!”
If you feel it is essential to provide your lawn with added fertiliser, Neudorff Organic CleanLawn adds precisely the right balance of slow-release nutrition and a healthy balance of microorganisms and mycorrhizae for optimum grass growth.