Turf WARS

HARD LABOUR: The new extended border, where lawn was before. The more tender plants are still protected by bubble wrap and cloches. The grass that's left will be a gravel path edged with reclaimed brick.hard labour: The new extended border, where lawn was before. The more tender plants are still protected by bubble wrap and cloches. The grass that's left will be a gravel path edged with reclaimed brick.
HARD LABOUR: The new extended border, where lawn was before. The more tender plants are still protected by bubble wrap and cloches. The grass that's left will be a gravel path edged with reclaimed brick.hard labour: The new extended border, where lawn was before. The more tender plants are still protected by bubble wrap and cloches. The grass that's left will be a gravel path edged with reclaimed brick.
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GO on. Rip up your lawn. Frighten the neighbours – I dare you.

I know that a garden without a green sward, neatly trimmed, isn’t a garden for many, and for that I apologise.

But I appeal to those out there who hate mowing, edging, scarifying and realising you have a patch of moss and lichen, with no grass left.

It’s also a monoculture, unless you have a meadow, with precious little to sustain wildlife.

I’ve been slowly winning the battle against grass since the kids lost interest in playing outside.

A large area was laid with turf when they were little (to put goalposts on), which soon turned into a mudbath and stayed that way until computer games took over.

Since then, I’ve been digging out chunks to make the borders bigger, so it looks like a map of Norway.

This year is the time for decisive action – get rid of the lot, create very deep borders and gravel paths.

Unfortunately, the soil under turf doesn’t get mulched to break it up and I garden on heavy clay.

The technique is simple and repetitive – mark out and loosen liftable squares (called turves) with an edger or spade.

I’d suggest the latter, as my edger snapped after 30 minutes, then overturn each turve to knock off as much loose soil as possible.

Don’t throw them away – stack them grass side to grass side, cover with black polythene and in a year, you’ll have excellent loam.

In three days (last Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday), I managed 14 hours in the garden. It’s back-breaking work.

Once the area is clear of grass, you need to enrich the soil with compost, even spent tomato bags to improve drainage and add fertiliser – such as blood, fish and bone.

My new plants arrived by mail order and had to be planted at once.

Some of them need protection, so the spurge (Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii), red hot pokers (Kniphofias Ice Queen and uvaria Nobilis) and giant mullein (Verbascum bombyciferum) are in assorted jackets of bubble wrap and bell cloches until more established.

Still, that bed looks bare. I have to remember that several of these plants will be taller than me by summer and there’ll be no gaps – bare soil’s another one of my hates!

FOR those who want to keep their grass, I’ve had a query this week about dogs weeing on lawns, especially bitches.

Thanks to everyone on Twitter who came up with suggestions:

* A herbal supplement called Green Peez, with all-natural drops added to your dog’s meal, www.caninenaturalcures.co.uk;

* Sprinkle lime/baking soda or gypsum on the affected patch, to neutralise the acidity;

* Copiously water the patch as soon as your dog has finished to dilute.