Edward Aitken Announced As Allett 2022 Creative Lawn Stripes Champion
The Allett Creative Lawn Stripes Competition is in its 10th year and entries are welcomed from all over the world regardless of how big or small your lawn is. We encourage homeowners to use their lawns to design the most creative, eye catching designs that truly show off the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into grass maintenance.
The standard of this year's entries has again been incredible and keeps on getting better year after year. This year's competition saw top six entries from England, Wales, Australia and Canada. This year's judge was Dennis West who was our 2021 Champion. An internal vote was done by a specialist Allett panel with the top 6 entries being forwarded to Dennis to choose his overall winner.
Lets take a look at our TOP 6 of 2022
Tom Frampton, Wales
Tom was able to use the lawn at Llandough Castle to create his design
''The combination of curved waves and straight lines in this design create pleasing paths for the eye to follow to the varied features of the property''
A few words from Tom...
Llandough Castle dates back to the 11th century. The gardens were all lost, but the current owners have redesigned and restored them over the past 10 years. You can follow the progress of the gardens on instagram @llandough_castle_gardens or you can visit them as part of the national garden scheme.
The lawn has traditionally been a formal croquet lawn. The mower used was a Stihl RM 545 VR and the height of cut was higher than normal due to trying to reduce the stress of the hot dry summer. The height of cut was around 2.5 inches.
The design was just a quick sketch on my phone over a screen shot of google maps but with a slight change of orientation due to the position of the sun. The design was cut in one morning. No measuring out was involved I just went by eye. I double cut most of it, and went over some parts a third time. It took me around 2.5 hours to complete. There was no specific reason behind the design, just an amalgamation of lots of the different designs that I have done on my own lawn in the past.
Dan Milne Canada
''Hi my name is Dan Milne and I'm a fulltime paramedic by day and lawncare nut by night. I live in Southern Ontario Canada, married with one amazing daughter. Growing up I never cared much about grass, lawn mowers, yard work until I purchased by first home in 2019. Back then I said to myself " I just want to have a nice yard" and that eventually send me down the rabbit hole and I've been falling even since.
I did a full lawn renovation last year with sand / soil mix and planted 100% "cutter 2" perennial ryegrass. The following year I have been top dressing with sand multiple times a season in an attempt to get the lawn as smooth as I can.
I purchased my Allett Liberty 43 in October of 2021 and was sadly only able to use it for a few weeks before the dreaded winter came. Over the winter I was watching a lot of YouTube videos and increasing my knowledge in the off season.
Spring 2022 came and I was really excited to get back out there. I maintained my hight of cut at just under 1" and started experimenting with different patterns. This specific pattern was done on a whim and off the cuff. I went over the pattern 4 times to really burn the stripes in and waited until noon when the sun was in the sweet spot for the photo. I got my ladder out , leaned it on the lamp post outside and climbed up about 15 feet to try and get a better angle.
I am honoured and humbled to make the top 6 this year and will be making plans for next year. Really excited for my next entry so stand by.
My Bermuda-couch journey continued for several years until my wife and I decided to demolish our then current house and rebuild to accommodate our now larger family. I was excited for this blank canvas; an opportunity to erase all the errors I made the first time around and build The Ultimate Lawn. As the house planning phased progressed, the house got bigger and bigger and the yard got smaller and smaller. By the end I had a long thin yard with not a lot of sunlight and not a lot of options for grass-varieties. I decided to buck conventional thinking a plant a cool-season lawn, with Perennial Rye and Fine-Fescue blend being chosen for shade tolerance. I knew that the preparation work had to be spot-on for this to work during the hotter summer months so I excavated out 350mm and installed drainage tiles with a geofabric blanket. Over this 300mm of USGA Spec sand was used to create an artificial perched water-table that many golf greens and sporting fields utilise. The days of cutting Bermuda-couch at sub-5mm are well and truly behind me now, with the cool-season turf preferring a higher cut height of around 20mm year-round
For this design I was just laying in some straight bullet stripes on a Saturday morning and I had laid with some 'Squiggly-Wiggly's' previously so I wondered how it would look if I combined the squiggles into the stripes and it came up better than I expected. I only did 2 passes back over the squiggles to give 3 different stripe colours.
I was pretty happy to be acknowledged by the judges on a solid 4th place. It's always hard to get the wow-factor on a small lawn and looking at the quality of the other finalists and the even the lawns that missed out on a top-6 finish, it is definitely humbling to be held in the same esteem.
I am currently working as a gardener for a local gardening and landscaping company based in Oxford, I have only been doing this now for just over a year .
Previous to this believe it or not I started my working career as an assistant butler in an Oxford college, I was in the position for 10 years when I was promoted to head butler in the same college of which I carried out this position for another 10 years. Things changed again in the college and I applied and was successful in achieving the role as college steward, which oversees all of the front of house catering within the college and managing up to 30 staff in a dining room that seats over 300 guests.
I carried out the role for 8 years, then Covid hit in March 2020 , for over a year I worked from home and was also furloughed for some of the time.
College then needed me back onsite in the summer of 2021 but due to my wife having a complex medical history with having cystic fibrosis, diabetes and having a double lung and heart transplant 30 years ago she has a very weakened immune system with the Covid vaccination not giving her any protection ,it was decided by both of us that me being exposed to the amount of people I would be dealing with daily would be a massive Covid risk to my wife who was and still is to this day shielding at home.
The decision was made that I would change career to a role that was safer Covid-wise for myself and subsequently for my wife as if she were to contact Covid we really would not be able to predict the outcome.
So I decided to follow my love and change to working in gardens, I have been a very keen gardener over the last 10 years or so in especially lawn maintenance at home much to my wife getting a bit fed up with me constantly doing something to the lawn be it feeding, scarifying, top dressing, over-seeding etc etc .During my 28 years in catering I was always quizzing the head gardener for lawn tips and advice .
The college I worked in for 28 years couldn't accommodate my request to work in their gardens so I applied for a couple of Oxford University gardening jobs and luckily was offered a short 4 month contract at Somerville college, it was only a short contract but took the gamble and accepted the position
I started the job in August 2021 working along with the Head Gardener and her assistant where I was allowed to mow all of the college lawns of which there are 8 of varying sizes with the main lawn the centre piece to the college with the dominating Cedar tree of which I took inspiration for my design.
The day I started the job this lawn was undertaking a massive renovation due to the lawn being used to accommodate temporary dining and catering facilities in several marquess for over a year while the main kitchens and dining hall was having a major refurbishment.
The lawn was re profiled to remove two banked areas to create more of a gradual gradient from top to bottom, I'm not 100% sure of the exact turf breakdown but I would say it was a Pyrennial dwarf ryegrass. The work was carried out over around a week by an Oxfordshire turfing contractor who worked for several other colleges.
The head gardener was keen to allow me to present her with different lawn mowing designs and was open to designs away from the usual stripes that most other colleges present.
We were mowing the new turf 2/3 times a week due to the conditions being ideal growing conditions being late summer so I did several different designs.
The lawn I created for the 3rd place cut was created over two days at the end of September 2021,with the inspiration coming from the large cedar tree at the top of the lawn and of course trolling the internet for ideas. The first stage was a standard diagonal single stripe taking around 3.5 hours, the following day I started mowing concentric circles from the cedar tree circle , this was the first time this design was created the circles taking 4 hours.
The mower used was a Weibang Legacy 48 rotary mower , with the final pattern cut fairly high. The turf at this stage was only layed a month previously so the height was around 35 mm.
I finished the contract at Somerville at the end of 2021 as they couldn't create a full time position and subsequently accepted a role for a local gardening and landscaping company in February this year which I am still employed with to date working on the garden maintenance side in residential and commercial sites around Oxford.
''Thank you so much for the great news, I'm over the moon, the lawn was over-seeded with a mix of perennial ryegrass and red fescue this spring. I used a Torro Prostripe 560 at 32mm, the lawn was mowed 3 times on the day I took the picture to get the full effect. I changed the design a few times over the last few months until I was happy. The inspiration was to lead the eye into different parts of the garden and ultimately lead you down to the koi pond. I'm really excited to try again next year to try and get first.
Our lawn is a very old lawn which we have been renovating to get it up to standard -it was cut with a ride on originally which didn’t pick up the grass clippings, so it was a bit of a mess. Now we cut with a Hayter 56 at various heights of cut. I changed the height depending on what part of the lawn I was cutting. The circle area has to be cut higher compared to the area closest to the house just because of the thickness of the lawn and how much thatch is left in the lawn. Each different pattern is cut at a different height which helped to show off the pattern a bit more.
The inspiration for the design comes from the centre circle part of the lawn where the chequerboard is which is actually a helicopter landing area. The idea was that it looked amazing when the family and their guests were coming in in the helicopters which I thought was quite effective.
Once I’d cut the circles it was a case of breaking the lawn up into a couple of different sections and making sure it looked nice as you’re looking out onto the lawn. The family I work for have an outdoor eating area just outside the house so it looks good when they’re looking over the garden.
I’d say it’s taken about a year to get it looking good and I’ve been repeatedly cutting it. We cut it once a week in fact we almost didn’t stop throughout last winter. I think we stopped in January and started again in March – it was so mild! There are certain areas I cut twice a week, so the central checkerboard area is cut twice a week in a different direction
I decided to do the different patterns just because it’s such a large area of the garden. Everywhere you look as you’re sitting in the house you can see lawn, so it was just to make everywhere a little bit more interesting and more interesting for me to cut and not just going up and down in straight lines. It adds a little bit more interest where there wasn’t any in the garden.
I’m delighted to win as I’ve entered three times now. I was third the first time, second the last time and then I took a year or so off and thought I’d stand a chance this year with the circles making it an interesting lawn so I’m very pleased to have won.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the prize I’ll probably use it in my own garden at home as I’ve got quite a large lawn. Maybe I will start doing some patterns!
We will be dropping off Ed's prize next week and will be shooting a video with him to find out more about him! Congratulations!
Ed joins a list of Allett Champions
2013 Mike Lee (UK)
2014 Shane Avery (UK)
2015 Pallav Shah (UK)
2016 Jonathan Thompson (UK)
2017 Dave Yates (UK)
2018 Keith Smith (UK)
2019 Erik Czako (Hungary)
2020 Andrew Wain (UK)
2021 Dennis West (USA)
2022 Ed Aitken (UK)