Watching grass grow

Daniel Sweeney sowing lawn seed
Daniel Sweeney uses a traditional ‘fiddle’ more used to dispersing corn to sow our lawn seed.

This has been a red letter week for us, at last, we’ve been able to turn our attention to our outdoors and do something about it.

For nearly four years we’ve been looking out of our windows to what was, essentially, scrubby fields or ankle breaking bog ground.  There are worse views, I grant you, but what we had was not ideal for football (the 7 year old), climbing, swinging and sliding (the 2 year old) or keeping chickens (me).  It was ok to look at – it was just hillside so it didn’t stick out – but it was not what we needed.

So with the mini heatwave and the loan of a digger the hard landscaping of our site began in earnest last week.  I was so excited that the plans I had been sketching out and refining as each season passed (thanks for all your advice, Mr Titchmarsh) were finally starting to come to fruition.

At the same time, the 2 year old was lulled into a dreamlike state as he got up close and personal each day with a digger, a tractor and a dumper.  He’d gaze out of the windows at the machines each morning, quietly whispering “Digger!” to himself, such was his joy.

The 8th of an acre site is fairly exposed, the trade off from the wind being the lovely views.  We needed lots of top soil (13 dumper loads – yikes) to give enough depth for all the wind screening trees and hardy shrubs we’ll be growing down the east side, although the little rhododendhron seedlings we foraged from Ards Forest Park last year are doing well there for starters.

After the top soil was spread it was time to de-stone.  This back breaking job was made much easier with the arrival of about 5 or so neighbours bearing rakes and one clever youngster who’d attached a harrow to his quad bike.  He covered the ground in super quick time and was supping a well deserved beer while the others were still hard at it.  I love that this bartering of skills, time and equipment is still the way it’s done in our farming community in this part of Donegal.

It took a kilo bag of grass seed then to cover all that top soil.  Up stepped another neighbour who kindly shared his expertise to sow the lawn.  No doubt more used to sowing corn than grass over the years, Daniel skilfully manipulated his ‘fiddle’ to get the most even distribution of seed.  I very much doubt whether there’ll be any bald patches, given his methodical tread and beady eye.  Other than by the penalty spot in a few months time, that is.

So now we’re sitting and waiting, watching the grass grow.  The unseasonably hot, dry weather has given way to the warm and wet conditions that we’re more used to.  Not even a week has passed yet and already there are definite, if patchy, green shoots appearing.  Like an anxious teenager we’re hoping that the fluff will join up sooner rather than later.

The talk is now turning to when we can start to use our new lawn.  One of my favourite smells in the whole world is the bewitching perfume of newly mown grass.  If the weather’s with us (ha) we might even need to get a first cut done in October.  Already the Husband is muttering about how long this will take him and how he’ll really need ‘one of those sit on mower yokes’.  Hmmm, we’ll see.

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