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The Importance of a Lawn to a Landscape Garden

Landscape gardens aren’t just about perfect plants, desirable decking and wonderful water features – you need a good lawn as well. Here Compass Garden and Landscape Design, experts in contemporary garden design in Salisbury, Bruton, and across the south of England, look at the history of the English lawn, the advantages of keeping your grass in good condition – and how we can make sure it complements the rest of your outdoor space.

The History of the Lawn

Before the 17th century, any grass grown in the UK was likely to have been used for grazing sheep and cattle. This kept the grass short, as well as the livestock fed. However, closely shorn lawns started to emerge after this date at the homes of wealthy landowners, who may have been inspired by images seen in Italian landscape paintings.

For many years, the lawn remained the preserve of the rich. This is because the mower hadn’t yet been invented, and so lawn owners needed a workforce to weed and take a scythe to the grass; a workforce which needed paying.

The invention of the mower in 1830 brought the lawn within the financial reach of many more people; and in the 20th century scientific advances meant that fertilisers could improve the quality of the grass as well (although in recent years there has been a move away from an over-reliance on chemicals, sparked by fears over the damage they could be doing to the environment). There are now estimated to be at least 15 million lawns in the UK alone – and it is an essential ingredient of many modern gardens, thanks to some of the reasons outlined below.

It’s a Practical Space

Lawns can be used for anything – whether it’s for children playing, or for a spot of sunbathing, or for standing (or sitting) room if you are holding a barbecue or party and all the chairs and seats have been taken. Most people don’t want their garden to be taken up entirely with plants; they need somewhere to relax, a vantage point from which to enjoy the rest of their garden, and the overall garden design needs to have space to ‘breathe’.

It’s a Perfect Neutral Backdrop

In the same way that white works well in any interior design scheme, so green is the ideal choice for outdoors. It’s a naturally neutral colour which will ensure the lawn is both stylish and timeless – and additional colour can easily be added in the form of exotic flowers, shrubs and trees.

It Can be Low Maintenance

Not all lawns need to be green and lush and have perfect stripes. Even if there is a prolonged dry spell, the grass will usually recover in time without watering; and many people don’t have the time to spend on lawn care, particularly if the garden is large.

Mowing does ensure the lawn stays in good health, encouraging thicker grass and deterring weeds. However, and also due in part to the previously mentioned fears over fertilisers, increasing numbers of gardeners are happy to let the grass grow long; this will attract more insects into the area, adding additional points of interest, and will improve the overall eco-system.

It Offers the Chance to be Creative

Lawns don’t need to be perfect squares or rectangles – they can ovals, triangles, circles, or any conceivable shape. Alternatively, they can be broken up with other elements such as patios, potted plants or water features, or situated on different levels of the garden. It’s worth noting, however, that all of these elements will make the grass much tricker to mow.

Contemporary Garden Design in Salisbury with Compass Garden and Landscape Design

At Compass Garden and Landscape Design, we will ensure that a lawn is an integral, functioning part of any of our garden designs, whether you want to plant one from scratch or improve your existing grass.

As part of our planting consultancy service – which operates in Somerset, Wiltshire and across the south of England – we will make sure that we can source the right sort of grass for your climate and growing conditions, and that it works well with whatever plants you want to add to your outdoor space. Thanks to our contacts within the industry, we can usually help you acquire these at a highly competitive price.

If you would like to know more about any of our services, follow this link and fill in the online form; you can also call us on 07920 051549, or email us at