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Before making a jakes of other people’s gardens, I practised making a mess of my own. To kill weeds in my lawn, I used a powdered selective herbicide in a wheeled hopper. I considered that marking out the area with string guidelines was a waste of time since I thought that my eye was good enough not to go to the extra bother. I trundled about the turf at roughly even speed and doused the lot, first lengthwise then width ways. Then I watered it in as instructed, since Sod’s Law dictates that it never rains unless you are planning a picnic, an outdoor wedding or a film based on drought in a desert. Five days later, the green was striped with dirty brown, except where I had crossed the streams and there the moss went black. The whole production was enlivened by murky blotches where I had paused for turning a corner, sneezing or scratching. Wonderful; I ended up with a tartan effect in ugly colours that no sane Scot would ever countenance for kilt making.
Viburnum opulus (snowball bush)

Now I use a liquid formulation in a spray container. This has the advantage of easy targeting; I can’t say that the dandelions and clumps of clover are history but if I persevere, they will be one day. I don’t have to dash about with a hose either but of course, an hour after I have done the treatment, the sky unzips and washes it all off. O’Toole’s Precept says that Murphy was an optimist.

There is more moss than grass in the back. I refuse to reprise the chequered pattern, so I’m adopting the attitude that it’s all green which is good enough. The violets which are self seeding throughout the garden are extending their territory into the lawn. This spring the front looked like a medieval meadow, pocked with purple, an accidental outcome that I found charming. If I stick to organic ideals, I may even encourage unicorns. I shall therefore be sparing in the distribution of toxic chemicals. Looks like the weed killer is going to spend most of its time in the shed, after all.
Aconite (monkshood)

If you do doctor your sward, then you may want to treat yourself to an electric scarifier. I found them inexpensive when compared to the personal agony of raking up dead moss by hand. Delicate wire prongs rotate to pick up the swarf and fill the collection box with fluff incredibly quickly. Your muscles will ache from filling the compost bin repeatedly. Big bastards may be rented from hire shops and will tantalize, tickle or terrify the area, depending on the weaponry at the business end. Do not employ a machine with six inch gleaming metal blades whizzing around on a barrel as broad as your thigh, unless you are prepared to look out at a muddy turned field for the next two months. Whether you medicate or not, your grass will be greatly improved by a scattering of bone meal. This will promote root growth and may be strewn about with abandon, like an Egyptian flower maiden greeting Pharaoh with rose petals.

Zantedeschia aethopicta (calla lily)
After all of this, perhaps you may wish to ponder upon why you want a lawn like a billiard table. Do you wish to play the vicar at croquet? Are you infested with excessively discerning in-laws who will criticize your work ethic? Can you currently erect a more-or-less level deck chair and keep a bottle of cold beer upright in the shadow beneath? What are you waiting for?

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