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How to Shape a Lawn
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Lawns make great green backdrops, a natural for plants. They are a cheap surface compared to materials for patios and paths. But there's no getting away from the fact that they do mean maintenance, whatever type of lawn you want in your garden. Some gardeners want to do away with grass all together. Others could not bear to be without one. If you want a good looking lawn of whatever type, start by thinking about the shape it is, and what type of planting surrounds it. Also, think about your mower, if you have one, the size and type it is. Otherwise the size and shape of your lawn should influence what type of mower you buy. Lawns can be given positive shapes to great effect. The shape and size of your garden, the shape of your patio will affect your lawn. You will also be influenced by the style of your garden, or the overall effect you are aiming for. Rectangles can be interlocked to add depth and interest. Borders around can be filled with plants and these soften edges so that they look informal. Circles, part circles, ovals and ellipses can also be linked to give different areas of lawn, adding interest to your garden. Offsetting these shapes to one side will add interest. Asymmetrical lawns: setting your lawn at an angle can make narrow gardens look wider. If you have the space, set a second lawn in the other direction, to make a zig-zag shape.
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you will need
Sand, line and pegs, paint to mark out; tape measure - long ones can be hired; half moon edging tool; spade; wheelbarrow; Optional: mechanical turf cutter; canes; pegs.
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step1
Decide on a shape for your lawn, looking at the information above. For rectangles make corners square - stretch out two lines to establish corners. For circles and arcs, work out roughly where the centre should be and hammer a peg into the ground. Tie a string to this centre peg, and the other end to a second peg. Mark the circle or curve on the ground using the second peg. Paint or pour sand over this line for clearer definition. Make curves sweeping - take offset measurements at 1m intervals from a fixed line or boundary. Hammer pegs into the ground at each point. Join them all up with string, paint or sand to give a curved line. You can use a hose, but avoid making a wiggly curve and odd corners as these will be difficult to mow. Finally, don't make angles too acute (less than 20C) as this will lead to awkward corners. You might be reshaping an existing border, or setting out a new one. Mark out the shape on the ground then leave it for a few days to see if it is right.
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Existing lawns: remove the turf from the area outside the new shape. Cut to your shape guideline using the half-moon edger or a spade. Then remove the turf in sections, undercutting with your spade and taking only 2.5cm or so of soil. Stack the turf grass side down in a pile in the corner of your garden. In 18 months or so they will have turned into a good pile of loam, ready for reuse. Dig out the soil to a depth of about half a spade's blade, or to match an existing surrounding border. If this ground is to be planted, dig over and prepare it.
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step3
New lawns: prepare the ground by digging it over and removing any large stones or clods of soil. See Workshops: How to Make a Lawn by Sowing Grass Seed and How to Make a Lawn by Laying Turf.
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step4
Adding a mowing strip now will cut down on edge trimming maintenance and really keep its shape looking good. See Workshop: How to Add a Mowing Strip.
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Regular shapes can be cut into a lawn for planting
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Angled lines can give variety in a limited rectangular space
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Curving lines can have a softening effect
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