Five years ago, I had the absolute dream of having my own acreage, but this has honestly been the biggest learning curve, relearning so much about how to better look after our horses and what the land requires. Hopefully, I can give some insight into things I have learnt, mostly by trial and error and lots of mistakes.

Mulching! 

Grass

A word I never knew and now could not be without. Mulching is when you put organic material on bare, compacted, often low-fertility and over-grazed earth. It really is as simple as getting your hay sweepings from your stable or under your nets and placing them over the bare patches of soil, allowing them to rest for a season (approximately 10-12 weeks) and waiting for the magic to happen.

No matter how well my field looks, I can always walk around and find those patches where the grass refuses to grow.

In summer mulching is done to prevent evaporation of moisture from the soil, and soil erosion, which is so useful in a drought. It also has the added bonus of stopping weed seeds settling in, because we all hate the backbreaking task of weeding.

In autumn and winter it is done again, when horses come off the land. However, this time, with the wetter conditions, the aim is different. The soil life will develop and start to break down all the organic material, causing it to rot into rich nutrients that will feed healthy grass. If you mulch with hay sweepings from your barn, chances are there will be a lot of seeds which will germinate too and fill in the bare bits.

I never mulch directly on grass as it prevents sunlight reaching the plant and photosynthesis will not take place. However, if you mulch on weeds, then hopefully some daylight will be blocked out, preventing photosynthesis occurring so the weeds don’t thrive. I have had huge success with thistles and stinging nettles doing this, and even buttercups.

Added bonus – not only is it free, but in the long term the mulching feeds and creates nutrient-rich soil in which your grass will thrive, making it more difficult for those pesky weeds to take hold!

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