A Castle in the Sky

In March 2013, after years of talking about it we eventually sell up and move out of the city with our 2 year old, Gracie. We both grew up in the countryside and this is what we want for our daughter. So we swap a 2 bed flat in London for a small country pile on the west coast of Scotland that needs a lot of work. I've done a bit of interior design and my partner, Ed has a good knowledge of the outdoors – but we're on a tight budget and we've both got a lot to learn. It's a life time's project and this is a record of our adventure…

Footprints on the lawn…(Apr 21)

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We still haven’t unpacked everything yet because there are too many other urgent things to see to. The lawn is one of them and it’s our (Ed’s) first big job. It’s over an acre in all.

It’s mostly moss, apart from the molehills (see Counting Molehills Apr 25) with varying patches of grass poking through. It’s so spongy we leave our footprints behind when we walk on it. This apparently is not a good thing, although I’m not sure I would have realized for quite some time unless someone had pointed it out. Ed says it’s too soft to use for much and gets boggy.

Neither of us have had a lawn since we were kids so it’s taken a fair bit of research to work out what we’re supposed to do. A sure sign of middle-age, Ed’s bed time reading is now The Lawn Expert and The Country House Garden. The moss is essentially caused by the wet (not much we can do about that up here on the West Coast) and can be made worse by overenthusiastic mowing (one to remember) as well as bad drainage (the drain is still to find…). Who knew? Lawns have drains.

To get rid of the moss we have to spray with moss killer, wait for the moss to die and then ‘scarify’ – basically comb out the moss leaving just the grass behind. We then have to re-seed and re-fertilise. An extra bit of machinery for the scarifying bit is already on it’s way with the new mower.

The new mower has also been something of a research project – and suffice to say Ed’s going to have to sell his motorbike to pay for it. I’ve suggested that he wear his helmet and leathers while he’s doing the lawn and he’ll hardly know the difference!

We’ve been keenly awaiting the arrival of the mower as the speed at which the grass grows up here has taken on mythical proportions. Mr C, the farmer, keeps reminding us that we better get on with it otherwise we’ll soon be up to our knees and then it’ll all be too late…  Although as one of our friends recently pointed out; given the lawn is mostly moss we may have nothing to worry about.

One option would be to rip it all up obviously and start again/lay down new turf but that’s way too expensive. So scarifying it is. As Ed’s only here at the weekends for now, we don’t have that much time to get on top of everything but we’re determined to do as much as we can on our own. Mr C and our various new neighbours smile knowingly at the mention of us scarifying – but not to be put off, Ed sprayed the lawn with moss killer today. Working out the ratio of moss killer to water to square foot of lawn using a 15 litre back pack was challenging to say the least – but fingers crossed we got it right. Now while Ed’s away the moss should start to die… if we got the mixture wrong the grass will die too…

Once we get to the actual scarifying bit (in a few weeks) the view from my desk of a sea of green could easily turn into a sea of brown. I think it’s fair to say I’m just a little bit scared….

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