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I wanted a really nice 'English lawn' and the gardening chap I know said he would do it 'no problem'. I was going to sow seed and in fact brought a large bag (25Kgs) ornamental lawn seed over with me from Blighty, but at the last minute he persuaded me to go with local 'golf course' quality turf. I left him to do the job while I was away for a few days and came back at the tail end of it. What is golf course quality definitely isn't although it looks like a reasonable quality all rounder. But what alarmed me was that they had simply rotovated the ground underneath, levelled it quickly with a roller and then put the turves on top. It feels alarmingly soft underneath. I was always told that the ground underneath either sown or newly turfed lawn must be very very firm. Help. Will it be past repair? I don't get the impression that the French really know about lawns although I gave very very detailed instructions.

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How are things in sunny Sarfend? That's where we last lived in UK and have fond memories. To answer your question  (partly) it depends in which part of France your house is. Maybe in the north where the climate is similar to UK you could have a nice lawn. But further south it's more difficult as the  grass gets burnt in the summer and weeds take over. From previous postings on here I think laying a turf lawn is quite unusual in France. Most people seed. There has been a lot of rain lately and that probably accounts for the soggy feel of the ground. As you say, french people aren't used to the type of lawn we have in UK. I'm sure other people will add to this. Pat.
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Thanks Pat, Sarfend is fine!  My little plot of land is on the Normandy coast about 30 mins from Caen, so very similar to English south coast (wetter than here in good old S.E.Essex!) I am going back in about 3 weeks so will keep my fingers crossed that it all settles and that if we get a dry spell, they will water it as they promised! The locals (friendly enough bunch) were quite gob smacked while it was being laid, I don't think they'd seen it done like that before.
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Sods or Turves (wonder if the Sad word with an o survives the spellchecker) are available around Bordeaux. May garden show had a coulple of suppliers but garden centres do not stock it. Best of luck. Our freshly rotavated and seeded patch is looking pretty green after three weeks of heavy rain intermingled with occasional sunshine.
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Lawns..............ah an old love!

Got very into lawns a few years ago. (followed from a love of golf and growing interest in fairways and greens). Then there was a drought! [:@]

First secret is the sub-soil. Simply rotovating meadow and either turfing or seeding isn't enough.

You need drainage, ( layer of aggregate and hardcore), then sand and sphegnum peat, to retain moisture.

Next you need to decide what type of lawn you really want: utility (so kids can play), lawn for light wear; or superior for "No walking on the grass!"

The type predicates the seed: utility will have more rye. Luxury will be mainly Fescues and Bents.

Golf course greens use special seeds as do bowling green lawns. Mixtures of Fescues and Bents and others to promote harder wear. Very scientific process, these and a branch of horticulture all in itself.

The difference is the rizomes and stolens and thus the "Thatch" that builds up.

Caring for a proper lawn is exhausting! Scarifying and aereating in the Autumn; scarifying in Spring.

Fertilising Spring; top dressing Autumn. Extra nitrogen late Spring and early Summer for that dazzling "Greeness".

A special dedicated compost heap for your top dressing.

And, then there is the cutting, with a proper cylinder mower; up and down one go; across and back the next; diagonally the next time! Then back to up and down!

Then the weeding: much of it by hand; crawling around, pulling up nasties and digging up others!

I feel tired already.

Like the American visitor sais to a gardener at Cambridge University, looing at the grass in the quads.

"How on earth do you get the grass like that?"

" Well, Zur said the old boy, "You waters it, you cuts it, you waters it and sometimes yer rolls it! fer 'bout three hundred years!"

Best book for instant knowledge!



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" Well, Zur said the old boy, "You waters it, you cuts it, you waters it and sometimes yer rolls it! fer 'bout three hundred years!"

I like that one GS!

My way....

Glyphosate and leave for three or four weeks.

Well rotted manure spread over then deep ploughed and left until it's dried out enough for harrowing.

After harrowing rotavate two or three times finishing on a fast speed which leaves a nice tilth.

Then rake it all out down to a fine tilth taking out stones & stuff and compress/roll & adjust levels if needed.

'Screed' the surface with a length of ply on a broomhandle it should look bruddy brill by now!

Seed (50% more than the packet says!) and go over the whole lot with a light roller to bed the seed down nicely.

Don't let it get too dry or germination will be slower and less effective.


Kill the moles[:)]

Cut & enjoy!

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Thanks Chris and Gluestick. Now I am REALLY worried!  I am quite sure that not even a tenth of what either of you are advising has actually been done, the problem being that I am just not able to be there at the moment for any length of time because of work commitments in the UK. Plus try translating that lot into French. Mine is pretty good  but I would struggle with tilth, harrowing and Cambridge Gardener speak! I will just have to see how things pan out. On the bright side, the ground slopes down quite well towards the road so draininage SHOULD be reasonably  OK, plus of course I can always do somethings to help (spike for aeration, top dress, etc).  and make sure watering goes well (100 metre hose and various nozzles.......) Oh well, and there was I thinking it would all be a doddle....


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I found the most important thing, Hatti Lee, was aereating.

On golf course greens, they spike vigorously, Spring and Autumn.

This is because over time the grass roots and the under-soil become compacted and air, water and of course, food can't permeate. (And on greens the traffic is very high, which compresses the turf further.)

This is also the hardest thing to do!

Just pricking the surface is nowhere near enough: it needs to be spiked hard for at least four to five inches.

A normal garden fork is ok and you can then wiggle it once planted, to loosen up the sub-soil.

One reason that this process is so important, is top dressing twice a year builds up the surface (the sand, peat  loam and humous has gotta go somewhere!)ands after some time, this needs breaking up.

Hard work but well worth it in the end!

Don't be dismayed! With patience and perseverance it is possible to turn meadow grass into quite a respectable lawn.



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Life is hitting me round the back of the head with what feels like a 4x2 at the mo GS so time is somewhat limited but I've sorta got the bones of the system planned out, it's a great opportunity and was the right decision to make, whatever anyone says!

Swerving back onto topic GS, what do you reckon to mixing some of the higher maintenance 'English lawn' type seed with some of the hardier utility type seed? I ask because the next area of lawn which I'll be putting down in late summer will be in a more formal setting and I want it to be pretty good....I don't have the time to maintain formal grass as it should be maintained.

Don't turn your back for a moment Moggy...I'm lurking[:D].

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That should work fine, Chris.

After all, low maintenance "Utility" lawns are only seed mixture high in ryes, etc and low on fine single blade grasses such as the Fescues and Bents.

That said, there was a lot of work and research going on by a body called something like the Sports Research Council, or similar, since they realised little or no real scientifically based research had been completed on grass as a sports and playing surface. They are now developing hybrids, which offer the best of a number of earlier types.

My interest at the time was golf oriented.

The trick, also, is selecting a grass seed mix which suits your specific climate.

Where we are in the North of France, most types would be OK, excepting longer Summers and more heat.

The further South one goes, then it is important to realise that traditional English grass types will not survive without copious watering and fertilising. Which is why Spanish golf courses go for Bermuda Grass: same in California.

When I played there for the first time, I miss hit a long iron short to the green. It was a low cutter! I visualised my ball bouncing over the green and being lost in the rough. Wrong! The tufted Bermuda Grass around the edge of the green stopped the ball almost dead.

Later, I realised why my American friends where shouting "Great shot!" almost immediately after the ball left the club face!

Some useful references.





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Where we live, here near Carcassonne, I think the best way is to plant concrete and paint it green [:P][:D]. Cause there ain't no way you can grow an English lawn without boat loads of arrosarge and loads of time in the summer. It just get burnt to death. My OH still tries though, bless her!! I did suggest astroturf, but got a thick ear for my troubles...
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Like I said earlier, JJ, you need grass that resists and that's bermuda broadleaf I'm afraid.

Or you need an Artesian well and lorry loads of fertiliser!

When I first stayed on Mijas (Costa del Sol),  golf course back in 1984, it was still fairly newish.

Walking round in the heat it smelt like a hothouse! The copious water they were spraying on plus the pong from the fertiliser was strange!  (Mijas was lucky enough to have huge quantities of subteranean water, under the rock, precipitated from the Sierra Nevadas in the distance. Mijas of course is on the foothills Boy! Should have seen the pumphouse and pipework for all the irrigation!).

In fact the greens were so soft, a high pitched approach wedge shot into the green literally vanished into the surface! Forget a pitch mark repairer, you needed a small fork to dig your ball out!

My best chum has a place in France 30 mins from us. Late last year a nice lady knocked on the door: she was a French artist and it transpired she and her epouse were the ones who originally renovated his old farmhouse two owners before him! She was a fanatical gardener, too.

Having moved to Provence, she had tried to create a nice green lawn: and eventually given up!

Youse can have lots of sun; or nice lawns.Without artesian wells and shares in Monsanto, you can't have both!

Agree about the green concrete or Astroturf! [:D]

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I'll tell you what GS me awd mate. I will settle for the lotsasun, if it eventually arrives this year (I am still in my trousers, not shorts!!?) and stuff the lawn... I used to look after the IBM computer kit at Monsantoez in Cheschire and the canal that ran past, well if you fell in you would probably break your arm falling through the crust on the water?

Grass was not meant to grow here, so why try? There is so MUCH more!!! And golf, well sorry mate but not my style. Mind you the golf greens on Minchinhamton Common were wonderful landing sights for our radio controlled gliders when I lived in Stroud!

Glider golf was the nearest I ever got!!

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Don't know about camomile, but we have some strange things growing where I throw the bird seed. I'm seriously thinking about the possibility of going into the rope making trade peut etra? Can't think of anything else to do with it off hand [blink][8-)]?
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