The Dream Allett Lawn Renovation - Dennis Hutchinson
I am the Managing Director of a Food Distribution Company which operates throughout the North of England. I am a complete novice and total amateur when it comes to lawn care. I have been on a very exciting journey to get where I am at with my lawn. I’m often asked if I would like to play a game of golf to which my reply is ‘I would rather cut grass than try and hit a golf ball over it’.
Where did your love for lawn-care come from?
My obsession with lawns started maybe 4 to 5 years ago when I realised that I could do just as good a job of applying fertiliser than a national lawn-care and treatment company. I was already cutting my grass using a Honda HRD 535 lawn mower and occasionally removing thatch but nothing more than that.
My lawn was nothing special, we had done a few extensions to the house some 20 to 15 years ago and during that period the builders had put drainage pipes and some soak-aways in various places there had been diggers driving on it and heaps of large stones for the builders dotted about. Eventually it was roughly tidied up and sort of levelled. I used the grass seed bought from a national DIY company, all in all it looked the part and I was quite happy with the comments of how good the stripes were.
Four years ago I came across Connor Ward from America on YouTube, he only had a few hundred subscribers but his obsession with his lawn and how he levelled, aerated, scarified and generally looked after it became an obsession for my lawn. Connor Ward now has over 80,000 subscribers. Not that I have ever thought of having a You Tube Channel.
My lawn generally improved using and doing all of the techniques I was picking up off the various ‘lawn experts’ on YouTube. I started to spray the lawn with Humate bought from Ecoworm and liquid seaweed. All the time I could see an improvement in the colour of the grass and the condition of the soil not that I really knew what on earth I was doing.
I was still plodding along with my Honda, still quite happy doing all the things that I was picking up on YouTube but Connor Ward kept telling everyone that they should be using a cylinder lawn mower for that better cut. I wanted one, I had to have one! It was going to take me to the next level, I had already started to spread tonnes of sand over my lawn to get it more level as recommended by Connor Ward. I was over-seeding with a more expensive grass seed, I was even using different types of fertiliser which I could find and buy with the advice of the team at Pitchcare. I was spending ever more time on ‘The Lawn’ I was truly obsessed.
Then for my 60th Birthday my ever patient wife bought me my Allett Kensington 20k from Lloyds Newcastle with all the attachments. There was no longer a need to use the local hire shop for a verticutter or scarifier they came with the Allett and Connor Ward was right, there is a difference in the cut. I was more than happy to go out nearly every day cutting grass even when I got in from a long day at work. It takes roughly an hour and a half to cut the 1200 square metres sometimes doing the single path chequered effect on the same day, so that took about 3 hours. Whilst I was cutting the grass there was always that nagging feeling of not being happy with how un-level it still was. I was mixing good grass seed with the original grass seed, there were weed grasses that no one else could see but I could and every time I was cutting the grass I was convincing myself it had to be completely done again.
Then at the start of 2021 I bought some Johnsons Premier Grass seed with the view of doing another sand levelling exercise of the 1200 sq/m of lawn in late March early April when once again on YouTube I came across Daniel Hibbert who at the time only had a handful of subscribers but he described what he was doing in very simple and very understanding language for someone like me and by sheer coincidence at the time he was using the very same Johnsons Premier grass seed that I had bought from Pitchcare, this was it I was going to renovate my lawn!
So 3 years after I got my Allett Kensington in late February, early March of 2021 from Lloyd Ltd. I sprayed the lawn with Round-Up and resprayed a week later telling my wife it would only be for a few weeks and convincing myself it was going to be a walk in the park, little did I know the mammoth task I had let myself in for.
I was doing this lawn renovation by myself believing I had the knowledge and understanding gained from Connor Ward and Daniel Hibbert as well as a Green-keeper friend called Ashley Marshall from Hexham Golf Course who I would call on numerous occasions whilst I was progressing with the renovation and also when I required that little bit of inspiration to get the job done.
Three weeks after spraying the lawn with Round Up it was completely dead, one of my neighbours who had noted my obsessive lawn behaviour thought I might have applied to much fertiliser. I rotavated the lawn going round the edges, climbing frame and drain covers with a hired hand held medium duty rotavator, thank goodness I was able to use a Kubota tractor with the rotavator and tiller attachments which I hired from Procut a local Ground care maintenance company, this probably took me 3 to 4 days of the weeks holiday I had set aside, but it had the desired effect of starting to make the areas that had lumps and bumps look sort of more level.
At the end of the fourth day I was relatively happy that it was looking ‘level’ but what was I to do with all the dead tufts of grass and stones that were dotted on the service of the soil, there was a huge amount of the stuff. Ashley told me it needed raking up and sifting out. So I raked and raked until I had lots of heaps of the stuff. I then made a large rectangle sieve with 20mm plastic coated wire and a wooden frame, placed it on top of some trestle’s and proceeded to sieve all the heaps of soil that I had raked up over what was my lawn. There were hundreds of them and I now realised the mammoth task I had given myself. Fortunately my wife Janet was prepared to give me a helping hand so in what turned out to be one of the coldest and wettest starts to Spring we set about removing any amount of stones and dead grass leaving yet more heaps of sifted soil which would eventually help to further level the soil.
This part of the process took at least 4 weeks of working a few hours here and there during the week mostly Saturdays and Sundays often on my own as Janet could see what a task I had took on. Eventually I was left with just the piles of sifted soil which over another couple of weeks I gradually by hand using a large rake and levelling flute continuously went back and forth getting down on bended knees to identify any lumps or bumps which needed to be ironed out! The continuous raking produced more heaps of stones and dead grass so more sifting was needed.
Due to the cold wet weather there was no progress being made with putting down the Johnsons Premier grass seed and to make matters worse why could the Grand-children not use the climbing frame? It was unfortunately surrounded by soil which they and the dogs were not allowed to go on!
By the third week of April although it was still on the cool side Ashley advised that I should be able to spread the grass seed. I used a Scott’s drop spreader for round the edges and a Scott’s rotary spreader to spread the 4 bags of seed. I also followed the advice from Daniel Hibbert and using a landzie compost spreader I covered the seed with about 80 bags of Jack’s Magic Compost, this I believe made all the difference along with a few plastic owls on sticks kept the pigeons from eating the seed.
I would say it probably took 2 to 3 weeks for the seed to get to a height where I could do the first cut with my Honda 535 as it had got to at least 80 to 100mm in those 2 to 3 weeks. So on the 14thJune 2021 I did my first cut, over 3 months after I started the renovation, from then it was onwards and upwards and as the grass thickened I was able to reduce the height and start using my freshly serviced and sharpened Allett Kensington 20k and my oh my was I in lawn heaven and why not the results were fantastic.
I have obviously not needed to do any scarifying or verticutting yet only mow and thanks to watching Daniel Hibbert I do the double criss cross to give that chequered look. I continue to apply liquid seaweed, Ecoworm humate, Superthrive and liquid iron all mixed together and as Connor Ward would say ‘throw it down’ in my Solo backpack sprayer every 3 to 4 weeks.
During the growing season I’m mowing every other day and reduce to once a week whenever I can through the winter months just to keep on top of the grass and also the debris that falls from the surrounding trees.
What are your plans going forward?
This spring I plan to spread 10 tonnes of sand and do an over-seeding exercise, I think that as the soil was so wet and as I only did a very light roll prior to seeding it has settled and there are a few areas where it is slightly uneven and produces a slight wobble as I go over it with the Allett and I’ve come this far a little bit more pain is needed to have to that perfectly flat lawn.
My thoughts are that next year I will look to purchase an Allett C27 with all the attachments as I’m completely hooked on your product range and would like to thank you for the opportunity to tell my lawn renovation story.
The final result- looks amazing doesn't it!
Lloyd Ltd (Allett Dealers)
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