Spring Lawn Care
British winters might feel like they go on forever, but eventually, spring will rear its head. When it does, it’s time to start thinking about getting your lawn ready for another year of growth. This is the season where your lawn will need the most TLC, since the grass is only just starting to grow. You need to take care of those tiny shoots. Put the following tips into practise, and your lawn will be fully prepped for the rest of the year.
Spring Lawn Treatments
Don’t Overdo the Mowing
When spring rolls around, it’s time to dust off your petrol or electric mower and start taking regular care of your lawn’s length again. Early on in the spring, you’ll want to be careful with just how much you take off. While the grass is still young, cutting it too low can put a lot of stress on it, which may limit future growth. For that reason, be careful to only trim at most a third off the top of the grass during early springtime. It’s better to regularly trim the lawn a small amount than to risk damaging the grass. As the season wears on, you’ll find that grass growth starts to speed up, as the plants have fully taken root. As this occurs, increase the frequency of your mowing, and gradually lower the blades from mow to mow until you achieve the perfect length for your lawn.
Overseed Any Patchy Areas
If it’s been a particularly rough winter, then you might find that by spring, there are a few empty-looking patches across your lawn. If this happens, then the best approach is to overseed these areas with a top rated grass seed. This will allow new grass to grow, and save you the hassle of having to completely start the affected area over again from scratch. Just break up the surface of the area with a garden fork so that it’s nice and fine, then sprinkle some seed onto the patchy area. Around 10-15 grams per square meter is the optimum amount. With that done, apply a decent amount of your chosen fertilizer. Before long, your lawn will be looking great!
Scarify and Aerate Your Lawn
During the winter, there’s not a lot that you can do to your lawn, since the grass stops growing and walking on the lawn too much can damage the grass. As soon as we reach spring, though, you’ll want to start getting your lawn ready for a full season of growing, and give your grass the best possible chance of growing thick and strong. To do that, you’ll want to do two things: first scarify, then aerate your lawn.
While your lawn might look like it’s in pretty good condition after the winter, if you take a closer look, you’ll probably find that there’s plenty of moss and weeds hidden throughout the grass. Moss can be a particular problem over the winter, since this plant thrives in cold, damp conditions- which we get a lot of during British winters. You’ll therefore want to scarify the lawn to remove all this excess moss, and give your grass the space it needs to grow properly. With this done, it’s then time to get the lawn rake or scarifier out and aerate your lawn, so that plenty of air and nutrients reach the roots of your grass for an especially strong lawn. You can find out more about how to do both of these things later on in this guide, they are common lawn care faq's.
Weed Killer at Just the Right Time
Just like your grass goes into hibernation during the winter, so too do weeds. You’ll find that over the winter, weeds simply don’t grow on your lawn. Come spring, though, they’ll start to shoot up like nobody’s business if you’re not careful.
That doesn’t mean you should spread weed killer over your lawn on the first sunny day of the year, though. Instead, hold back a little while, until the weeds have started to grow. That way, you can be sure that they’ll take in the maximum amount, and you can kill them all off in one go.
For even better results, wait until about a week or two after fertilizing. And remember, only use weed killer that specifically says it’s for lawns- otherwise, you’ll end up killing the grass, too.
Feeding Your Lawn in Spring
Spring is by far the best time to fertilize your lawn, since it’s when the grass grows the most. As your lawn develops from tiny seeds into a lush sea of grass, you’ll want to ensure that it has all the nutrients it needs to reach its full potential.
The ideal spring fertilizer is full of nitrogen, since this is the nutrient that grass needs the most to grow. Apply it either when rain is forecast, or when the soil is already nice and moist. Be sure to mix the fertilizer with a decent amount of soil, or else you run the risk of scorching the grass and killing it off. A good plan for fertilization is to lay some down between mid-March and early April, and then add a second application between six to eight weeks later. That should be enough, but if your grass starts to lose its lustre later on, then you can always apply some more.
During the springtime, you’ll get the best results if you use a granular feed. This type of fertilizer releases a regular amount of nutrients over the space of a few weeks, so that grass seeds always have plenty of energy to keep on growing.
Summer Lawn Care
This is what it’s all been building up to. Summer is the season where you’ll spend the most time outside, and it’s also when the lawn care you’ve been carrying out all year will really pay off. That being said, it’s still important that you keep a close eye on your lawn throughout the summer, since the hot weather and relative lack of rain can mean the grass needs a little helping hand to stay green and strong.
Summer Lawn Treatments
- Act on the First Signs of Drought
Act on the First Signs of Drought
The summer is the most important season for regularly watering your lawn with a garden hose. While the grass will get plenty of nutrients and sunlight during this time, the other factor that it needs to grow- water- comes at a premium. If you go through a drought, then don’t be surprised to see your lawn start to turn a little brown. Not to worry, though- if you’ve been taking good care of your lawn, then it will soon bounce back once it gets some water. If you properly aerate your lawn regularly, then the grass will have good strong roots that recover quickly. To stop it going brown in the first place, though, then give your lawn a good watering when you spot the first signs of drought- while the grass is still green, but starting to look a little limp and tired.
Keep That Lawn Freshly Mown
- Keep That Lawn Freshly Mown
Bad news for hayfever sufferers- throughout the summer, you’ll probably want to mow the lawn about once a week. During this season, grass will grow exceptionally quickly, as it thrives in warm, sunny conditions. Unlike in spring, you don’t need to worry about how short you cut it- since the grass is now nice and settled by this point, you can trim it to your desired length. Try not to cut it too low, though, since this can make it easier for weeds and moss to grow, spoiling the look of your lawn.
Don’t Worry About Seeding
If you go through a particularly nasty drought, then part of your lawn might end up getting damaged, giving it a patchy look. You can reseed this area during summer if you really want to, but be warned that it can be pretty hard work. After overseeding the area (which you can find out how to do in our spring guide), you’ll need to diligently water it to keep things topped up. If you really can’t live with a slightly barren patch of lawn, then give it a go, but otherwise, you’re probably better to wait until the autumn.
- Don’t Worry About Seeding
Feeding Your Lawn in Summer
Whether or not you need to fertilize your lawn over the summer will depend on the weather, and the individual growth pattern of your lawn. If it looks like your lawn is staying green and healthy, then you’re probably okay to leave it alone- that fertilizer you laid down in spring is clearly still doing its job. On the other hand, if your grass starts to look a little tired out, then it’s probably best to apply another lot of the same fertilizer you used back in the springtime. If the summer is particularly wet (which it might well be in the UK), then it’s more likely that you’ll need to top up the fertilizer levels. Finally, make sure you don’t fertilize your grass during a drought, as this can cause a lot of damage. Just make sure your lawn gets a decent amount of water, and it should quickly bounce back once the dry spell is up.
Autumn Lawn Care
With the summer behind you, you will hopefully have got plenty of use out of your lawn. However, even though you won’t be out in the garden as much as the nights start to draw in, it’s still important that you take good care of your lawn. In fact, autumn is probably the best season to take your lawn care right back to its roots, and prepare your grass for another year of healthy growth.
Autumn Lawn Treatments
First things first, you’ll want to take a careful look at your lawn, and see what sort of state it’s in after the summer. For example, it might have patches where the grass has dried out and died, leaving you with empty spaces in the lawn. Not to worry, though- during the autumn, the soil temperature is still just right for grass to grow. As well as filling in any sparse patches and giving your garden a good weeding with some weeding tools, there are a few other autumn lawn treatments that will help see your lawn through the winter:
Over the summer, it’s likely that plenty of dead grass, soil, and other debris will have built up all over your lawn. While it’s not always visible to the naked eye, it can have some pretty nasty effects on your lawn. In particular, it can stop water and fertilizer from properly soaking into the soil, and therefore prevent your grass from growing properly. Autumn is the perfect time of year to scarify your lawn and remove all that debris, since you can get in nice and deep without worrying about damaging fresh grass shoots. You can find out more about scarifying later on in this guide.
Trim Back the Edges
Over the summer, you might find that the edges of your lawn have got a bit unruly, and now look overgrown and untidy. To solve this problem, it’s time to get down on your knees with a pair of lawn scissors or even secateurs, and neaten things up a bit.
If you aren’t too confident about your ability to keep things perfectly straight, then a plank of wood makes for a great giant ruler to trim against.
Flatten Things Out
If your kids or pets have been playing out in the garden a lot over the summer, then it might be the case that your lawn has developed all sorts of bumps and humps. Alternatively, you might just have a naturally bumpy garden. Either way, there’s something you can do to solve this issue. Find an area in your garden where there’s a good amount of excess soil, and then use that to fill in the gaps in the rest of the lawn. Autumn is a great time to do this because you can then sow some fresh grass seeds on this soil, and they’ll grow fairly quickly- at a time when you won’t really be using the garden, too. When it comes to mowing the lawn, you’ll notice a big difference. No longer will you have to struggle with dips and troughs, and keep missing out patches of lawn that you then have to go back over. Instead, you’ll get a smooth, steady mowing experience- perfect!
Lay Down Some Top Dressing
With your lawn all flattened out and aerated (see below), it’s time to put down a bit of top dressing. This dressing, which you can buy ready-mixed, is a mixture of compost, soil, and sand, and it helps to grow strong grass roots.
You’ll want strong roots in the wintertime, since this will help the grass to survive any particularly harsh frosts. Just spread the dressing evenly over the lawn and rake it in, and you’re all set.
Feeding Your Lawn in Autumn
With all that preparation work out of the way, don’t forget to feed your lawn so that the grass has all the nutrients it needs. Be sure to buy a specific autumn feed, since the grass needs a different balance of nutrients to make it through the harsh winter months. A high amount of potash and phosphates will keep it toughened against frosts, while a lower amount of nitrogen ensures that growth doesn’t get out of hand.
Winter Lawn Care
While spring, summer, and autumn can be particularly demanding seasons for lawn care, you’ll be pleased to know that during the winter, you can afford to slack off a bit. While you’ll want to keep your autumn lawn care routine up well into November, there’s not a lot to do from December to February. In these months, grass stops growing, as the plants focus their energy on steeling themselves against the regular frosts that we tend to get in the UK. The same thing goes for weeds, too- they just won’t grow during the winter, so you don’t need to worry about applying any weedkiller. For the most part, you can simply leave the lawn alone, and wait for spring to roll around. However, if you want to keep your lawn in top condition and ready for the spring, then follow these tips to ensure the best results.
Winter Lawn Treatments
Keep Off the Grass
Although we get regular frosts in the UK, grass is pretty good at surviving them. During the winter, your lawn will go into “dormant mode”- rather than waste energy on growing in sub-par conditions, it conserves energy so that it can put up with the cold weather. While that’s good news for gardeners, since it means less effort, it also means that you should try and avoid walking on your lawn when it’s frosty. If you do, you’ll be left with nasty footprints in the grass when the frost thaws, which can be very difficult to get rid of.
Keep Lawn Tidy
During the winter, your main job will be to keep your lawn clear of fallen leaves and other debris. If left unchecked, these can start to rot, and the bacteria eating away at them can easily spread to the surrounding grass when they run out of debris. As we mentioned earlier, though, you’ll want to limit how much you walk on the grass- so a big mower is out of the question during winter. Instead, it’s time to dig out a simple garden rake, and get the job done by hand so that you don’t damage the grass.
Don’t Let Things Get Too Wet
During the winter, we tend to get more than our fair share of rain. However, since the grass is no longer actively growing, and the climate tends to stay rather damp for the whole season, there’s a greater risk of your lawn experiencing drainage issues during the winter. You might therefore want to think about aerating the lawn at this time. Rather than going over the whole lawn, limit your aeration to consolidated areas, and try to use a fork rather than a heavier spiking machine if possible. By keeping your lawn aerated, not only will you improve drainage, but you’ll also allow more air to reach the grass’ roots, for a healthier, happier lawn.
Feeding Your Lawn in Winter
As your grass won’t really grow much during the winter, you should find that the fertilizer you put down in the autumn will see you through until the spring. If you do want to top things up to keep your grass looking extra green, then there are special winter fertilizers available for you to use. These contain a low amount of nitrogen, so they won’t encourage too much growth, but they do include a healthy amount of potassium to keep the grass strong and green. In addition, this fertilizer will help to reduce worm activity, and limit any moss growth, making your life that little bit easier.
Lawn Care & Treatment Tips
Watering Dos and Don’ts
Watering your lawn is one of those things which seems simple, but is actually very easy to get wrong. If you don’t water your lawn enough, then you risk killing off the grass and leaving your lawn looking patchy and dried out. On the other hand, water it too much and the grass roots won’t grow properly, so they can’t take in enough nutrients from the soil.
For the most part, when you water your lawn is a matter of choice. There’s a reason why grass grows virtually everywhere in the world where there’s soil. It’s an especially tough plant, and when moisture is at a premium, it will go into a sort of hibernation, and won’t grow again until there’s enough water to go around.
How Much Water Should You Use?
Just how much water you should use will depend on your soil type. For clay soils, which are better at absorbing the water, around half an inch should be a decent amount. With sandy soils, it’s best to use double that, to ensure that the grass is still getting plenty of water. Either way, you’ll want to sprinkle enough water so that it gets down nice and deep, to help the roots grow properly. There’s a simple trick you can use to check how much water you’re using. Just take an empty container like an old paint pot, measure and mark the desired amount from the bottom of it, and then pop it in the sprinkler area. Once the water in the container has reached the marker, then your lawn has got all the water that it needs. Easy!
When to Water Your Lawn
Unfortunately, there’s not a universal rule as to how often you should water your lawn. If there was, then everyone would have a perfect lush lawn, and you wouldn’t have to worry about taking care of the grass. In reality, every lawn is different, with its own soil type, grass type, and climate. That means you’re going to have to use your own initiative when it comes to choosing when to water your lawn.
Luckily, the grass itself will tell you when it needs water. Keep an eye on the colour of your lawn. Grass that needs some more to drink will start to become duller and less fresh-looking, letting you know that it’s time to get the hosepipe out. What’s more, grass that’s lacking in water will start to lose its springiness. Instead of bouncing back into shape after someone has walked over it, footprints will stay imprinted in the lawn.
As well as being careful about how often you water your lawn, you’ll also want to think about exactly when you water it. If you water your lawn at night, then the excess water that the grass doesn’t soak up will be left to sit there until the morning, when the sun evaporates it. In the meantime, this damp soil is the perfect climate for fungi to grow in. It can also spread disease in your grass, so be sure to limit your watering to the daytime, and don’t water the lawn too close to sunset.
These problems can also occur if you water your lawn too much. There’s only so much water the soil can take before it stops absorbing any more, and again, this can help moss, fungi, and harmful bacteria to thrive, and have a negative impact on your lawn. This is often an issue for people who use an automatic sprinkler every single day, instead of waiting until the grass actually needs watering. Grass is a hardy plant, so it’s better to water too little than too much.
Weed & Moss Control
If there’s just the odd outlying weed spoiling the appearance of your lawn, then there’s no need to resort to weedkiller. Instead, you can easily deal with the problem by just digging up the offending weed. For perennial weeds like dandelions, make sure you get the root as well, so that they don’t sprout up again. With other low-lying weeds, just give them a good rake before you mow the lawn, so that the stems get cut, and the plant dies off.
Using Weedkiller- the Right Way
Bear in mind that weed killer only works when the weeds themselves actively take in the chemicals it contains. That means it will only be effective while the weeds are growing. During the winter months, it simply won’t have any effect. For that reason, you should limit your weed killer use to sometime between April and September, October at the latest. If you apply it too early though, you won’t catch all of the weeds in one go, so you should probably start your weedkilling regime around May time.
As well as picking the right time of year for weed killer, you should also make sure that the conditions are just right before you lay any down. Most importantly, moisture conditions need to be right, or else you risk damaging the grass along with the weeds. Ideally, you want the soil to be nice and moist, but the grass itself to be dry, so that the weed killer doesn’t get diluted. For the same reason, avoid using weed killer if it’s due to rain in the next six hours or so. For the very best results, apply it a week or so after fertilizing your lawn. The weeds will be expecting more food, so they’ll take in all the weed killer for maximum weed blasting results.
In the winter months, moss on your lawn can be a welcome visitor, filling out any sparse patches of grass and keeping your lawn looking green and full. When summer rolls around, though, the moss starts to die off, since it only really grows in wet conditions. When this happens, it can leave big brown patches in your lawn which are definitely not a good look. What’s more, big chunks of this dead moss will build up as what’s known as “thatch”. This layer of debris prevents the grass beneath from getting the right amount of air, water, and nutrients, so it can have an even bigger impact on your lawn than just the colour.
The best way of tackling a moss problem on your lawn is to ensure that the conditions are just right for the grass. Think of moss as the other side of the coin to grass. It thrives when there’s too much water or not enough fertilizer for the grass itself. Plenty of grass, though, means the moss has nowhere to grow. To keep your grass in tip top condition, make sure that you’re properly aerating and fertilizing the lawn.
Keeping Weeds and Moss to a Minimum
If you want to limit the amount of moss that grows on your lawn, then be careful about how and when you water your lawn. If you spread more water than the soil can absorb, then it will end up just sitting there, perfect for moss to grow in. The same thing goes for if you water your lawn at night, or too close to sunset. Normally, the sun’s rays will evaporate that little extra amount of water that doesn’t make it into the soil, but if it can’t, then moss will start to spread overnight. In short, if you don’t want moss to be an issue in your lawn, then look after your grass!
Unfortunately, weeds are a little harder to prevent completely, since they grow in exactly the same conditions as grass. You can’t prevent every single little weed seed from blowing into your garden and taking root, so it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll have to deal with already growing weeds at some point. However, there are a few tricks you can use to keep weeds to a minimum.
Firstly, you’ll want to keep your lawn fully fertilized. You can find out how to do this in our fertilizer guide, but as a rule, applying fertilizer every 6-8 weeks during the growing season is the optimum amount. If your grass doesn’t have all that it needs to grow up strong, then it’s more likely that weeds will take over your lawn. You can also try mowing your lawn a little bit higher to stop weeds growing. Since the seeds need light to sprout, higher grass will block out this light, and limit the number of seeds that are able to take root.
To get the very best results from fertilizing your lawn, and have your grass looking greener than ever, be sure to aerate your lawn. A vital part of lawn care, aeration helps to ensure that plenty of air and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass, so that they can grow nice and deep and absorb as many nutrients as possible.
Choosing Your Tools
There are two main types of aerator to choose from: manual or automatic. Manual aerators are more suited to smaller lawns, and still give great results. They just require a bit more effort to use. On the other hand, automatic aerators are more expensive, but on the plus side you won’t get quite so tired out. Both types of tool feature a roller covered in small spikes, which penetrate the soil and allow more air and water to get into it. Actually aerating the lawn with one of these couldn’t be simpler- just roll it back and forth over the lawn until you’ve had enough. You really can’t aerate your lawn enough!
Once you’ve finished aerating your lawn, then it’s tempting to collect up all the soil plugs immediately so they don’t spoil the look of your lawn. If you do that, though, then you’ll only end up throwing away all the valuable nutrients contained within the soil. Leave them to dry out and then rake them back into the soil, or alternatively you can go over them with your lawnmower with the box taken off (but only if the mower’s instructions say you can do this). However, don’t just leave them there and hope they will go away. if you do not remove them after drying out, then they will lead to a bumpy lawn. Whatever you do, make sure you deal with the plugs once they are dried out!. Consider a compost bin or tumbler to make even more use of the material.
If you want your lawn to look its best, then you’re going to have to think about scarifying it at some point.
Scarification helps to remove any dead grass, moss, and other debris which may have built up across your lawn. This layer of debris is known as “thatch”, and as well as spoiling the look of your lawn, it can also have a big impact on your grass health. The thatch can stop the grass from getting all the air, water, and sunlight it needs to grow properly, and can also prevent fertilizer from fully soaking in to the soil. You’ll find that your lawn isn’t as able to deal with droughts when there’s too much thatch, and that it wears out quickly. What’s more, in areas with a lot of thatch, grass simply can’t grow. If you leave it a long time before you scarify, then you might find that there are big empty patches of lawn, all the more reason to scarify your lawn regularly.
How to Scarify Your Lawn
There are two main options here: you can either scarify your lawn manually, or you can opt for an electric lawn raker. If you’re going to go manual, then you can always use a simple rake, but you’ll probably be better off with a specialised lawn scarifier with wheels as it’s much less hassle to use. Either way, you’ll want to use only a moderate amount of pressure to lift up the thatch, so that you don’t damage the grass. Go over the whole lawn in a single direction, and tease that thatch up and out of the grass, before collecting up the debris and disposing of it properly.
With an electric raker, there’s always the temptation to use it at full power. With scarifying, though, this is totally the wrong approach. Instead, set it up so that the rake is only very lightly touching the grass at first, before gently teasing at the thatch. Once you get started, you can always make adjustments to get better results, but be careful not to go too deep. Again, go at the whole lawn in one direction for the first run, but when you go at it again, raking from a different angle will help to pick up any bits of thatch that you may have missed. With every successive run, lower the raker slightly, so that you can get at any thatch that’s deeper in the grass.
How many times you have to scarify your lawn will depend on how much thatch has built up. If there’s only a slight amount, then you should be able to get it all in one or two runs. If the problem is particularly bad, though, or this is the first time you’ve ever scarified the lawn, then you should instead carry out four to five runs, to ensure that you get everything.