My lawn is not your lawn: which lawn is right for me?

Susanne Loacker

Is the grass greener next door? Does it have fewer brown spots, and fewer weeds? Does it grow more regularly? If this really is the case, your neighbor has simply managed to find the lawn that suits him better. And above all: that suits his time budget.

A small dog is standing in the shade of a small tree on a well-tended lawn in front of a residential house, with blue sky in the background.
© Getty Images/ iStockphoto

In this article

A brief history of the lawn

The lawn as we know it today was obviously not simply invented. Rather the lawnmower made it possible when the Englishman Edwin Budding patented the first model in 1830.

The term “lawn” first appeared in literature written at the end of the 13th century: in “De vegetabilibus" by Albertus Magnus, natural scientist and bishop of Regensburg. He gave detailed instructions on how to lay a lawn: “Then, with pieces of a fine grass, the whole area must be covered...”

Grass with flowers growing can be seen in the foreground. There are two chairs on the right, and a hydrangea is in bloom on the left. A modern bungalow is visible in the background.

A neat lawn or meadow-like grass? Let it grow wild or crop it short? The style determines the overall look of the garden.

The lawn is a kind of counter-movement to the lush and sometimes megalomaniac European Renaissance gardens: the first landscape gardens were created in England back in the 17th century. Some of these gardens were often larger areas for ball games (pleasure grounds) made up of lawns. From the 18th century onwards, special seeds were used for lawns, initially mainly English ryegrass, a relatively hardy variety, and certain types of clover.

“Nothing is more pleasing to the eye than green, short-cut grass”, the British jurist, philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon is reputed to have said in 1625.

The right way to look after grass

No matter whether the lawn is sown or rolled out: it will need looking after right from day one. This will prevent bald spots, weeds and moss:

  • Twice a year, in spring and fall, the lawn needs fertilizer – even if lawn robot advertisements promise that leftover grass clippings will fertilize the lawn.
  • It is also important to scarify the lawn in spring and fall.
  • In summer, especially if it’s very hot, sufficient water is needed to keep the lawn a lush green color. The following principle applies: it’s better to water heavily once than a little often. Roots are “lazy” – if you water the lawn too frequently, they will not grow deep enough. This means that if there is no water for a few days, the lawn will then dry up.

Tip: the water should penetrate at least ten centimeters into the soil each time it is watered, so that the roots continue to find water below the surface and have an incentive to grow deeper. This makes them more resistant.

The comfortable option: a turfed lawn

To sow grass seeds yourself, it’s important that you know your soil well. Does it tend to be moist or dry? Is it more like clay or sand? Is the lawn in the shade or in the sun? These are the basic questions that you should ask yourself before sowing because the answers will determine the type of grass seed to use, and hence the growth of the grass.

It’s also important to consider how hardwearing the lawn should be – if you just want to look at it from a distance, a simple domestic lawn will suffice, whereas if children need be able to play football on it, then it’s better to choose hardwearing sports grass.

Now the only question that remains is how much time and care you want to invest – it makes a big difference if you plan to mow the lawn or purchase a lawn robot. Unlike a lawnmower, the lawn robot leaves sections lying around. Although these decompose and fertilize the lawn, they can also cause moss formation.

Tip: once you have decided on the type of lawn you want, it’s best to let a professional do the work, as they will sow the seeds using a special roller device. This keeps the seeds in place and guarantees an even lawn surface.

The advantage is that you can adjust the mixture of seeds precisely to suit your needs.

The downside is that it will take a few weeks between sowing and the first green growth; then it will be another few weeks until you have a proper lawn outside your door – for sunbathing or watching the children as they play.

A rather large lawn with yellow and brown spots. There is a big house in the background, and mountains are visible behind it.

The larger the lawn area, the more carefully planned the maintenance should be. This area here looks thirsty.

For a fast result: laid turf

The choice of the right variety is also crucial for turf rolls. Everything is possible, whether you need a surface that is hardwearing or one that is simply attractive, a shady lawn or a lawn that will be exposed to the blazing sun. Fortunately, a professional will usually help you to lay the turf – and give you tips on which lawn is suitable for your garden.

The advantage is that depending on their size, turf rolls can be laid within days, or even hours.

The downside is that laying turf is more expensive than sowing grass (yourself). And turf needs exactly the same amount of care from the moment it is laid.

A man is laying turf, unplanted earth can be seen behind him.

If you seek assistance from a professional, the turf will be ready within a few hours.

Fast and convenient: leased turf

If you’re short on time, you can rent a lawn: the gardener lays the turf, mows, fertilizes and scarifies it. After four to eight years a new lawn is laid. The cost for 200 square meters is around 2,000 francs a year.

Advantage: you don’t have to do anything to look after the lawn.

Disadvantage: a leased lawn is quite expensive at 2,000 francs a year.

A flowering meadow instead of a strictly cut lawn

Splendid wildflowers instead of very short cut grass: a meadow full of flowers looks much more natural than a trimmed lawn. An additional advantage is that it helps encourage species diversity. The romantic, uncontrolled growth offers habitats for butterflies, bees, bumblebees and other insects.

In order to conserve the magnificent flowers year after year, simply leave the cut grass where it is in the spring – and the flowers will virtually sow themselves. In the fall, however, you should not leave the cut grass lying on the ground. As soon as snow falls on it, the dry grass creates cavities that mice will make full use of.

The most beautiful and diverse of all meadows, rough pastureland, where red poppies bloom alongside bright blue cornflowers in spring, is the type of meadow for which the soil of a home garden is usually most unsuitable. This is because rough pastureland, also known as poor grassland, likes rather barren conditions, as this name suggests, i.e. dry and sandy. If you do not have this type of ground, you must get a professional to help you or at least lay drainage.

A fertile meadow, on the other hand, has a higher nitrogen content and is therefore also suitable for more humid soils. Its maintenance is more complex, however, because a fertile meadow needs fertilizer regularly. Flowers such as spreading bellflowers, daisies or yarrow will grow in fertile meadows.

Advantages: a meadow is practical and easy to maintain. Depending on the type of meadow, it does not require fertilizer or mowing. It simply needs cutting once or twice a year with a scythe or thread mower. In the spring, you can wait a while before cutting so that the falling seeds will prepare the next generation of flowers.

In the foreground there are fruit trees on a wildflower meadow, in the background there is a half-timbered house.

Wilder meadow species are beautiful too – but only if you don’t walk on them too much.

Disadvantages: a flower meadow tends to be more for looking at than actually using. It is therefore unsuitable as a children’s playground because you should avoid treading on it as much as possible.

Conclusion: whatever suits your time budget

If you want a beautiful green garden, your personal time budget always plays an important role. A leased garden or flower meadow is the right choice for anyone who loves a green meadow that doesn’t require much effort. However, leased gardens are fairly expensive, which puts them out of reach of a small wallet. If you can spare a little more time, opt for the classic green lawn you can look after yourself – the difference between rolling or sowing seeds only matters at the beginning. A lawn can be looked after relatively quickly with a mowing robot. A traditional lawnmower is quite sufficient for garden lovers who like to spend a lot of time caring for their oasis of greenery. But it will need to be put to good use once or twice a week.

Have we inspired you to make your lawn look beautiful again? If so, you will find more tips on lawn care here.

Read next

On our website we use cookies and analysis tools to constantly improve user-friendliness. This allows us to offer you the best possible service and personalize the advertising for you, both on our website and with our advertising partners. By using the website, you agree to the use of cookies. You can find more detailed provisions in our Privacy Statement).