Spring lawn care
With the temperatures getting warmer and the days getting longer, it can only mean one thing – spring is on the way!
Spring is the best time to spend a little time and effort getting your lawn or amenity grass into shape in time for the summer. These tips will offer you advice on how to kick-start your lawns and pitches for the summer.
Every year up to a quarter of the grass in a lawn can perish, more so after a cold, wet winter. Sowing new grass seed (or overseeding as it’s also known) into an existing lawn as the weather becomes warmer can revitalise the lawn and bring it back to life for summer activities.
To do this, you need to find out, how healthy is your lawn?
Identifying the problems
Weeds: these will include daisies, dandelions, buttercups, etc. If left untreated the weeds will spread and fight the grass for space, food and light. Use a selective weedkiller in the spring which should last for the year.
Bare patches: try reseeding all the bare areas. Use a rake to scratch the surface and sprinkle with lawn seed, mark off the newly sown areas to protect it from “traffic” and water gently, keeping the areas moist for the next few weeks.
Moss: moss is often found where there is poor drainage and in areas of shade. It’s a primitive non-flowering plant that quickly spreads on undisturbed soil and unless the conditions in which it grows are changed then it will more than likely return. Try spiking the area to improve drainage, re-sowing grass seed and apply a moss killing treatment.
Lawn thatch: leaving grass clippings on the grass will eventually form a layer of dead organic matter – a “thatch”. This prevents water being absorbed and increases the likelihood of disease. Rake out the thatch in early spring, and always remove grass cuttings going forward.
Slopes: Grass finds it difficult to grow on a slope as it tends to get hit the hardest by hot and dry weather. If you are having trouble getting the grass established try deep watering or laying sod.
Circular patches that die off: these are called fairy patches and sometimes apply to mushroom rings. Apply a fertilizer and keep the lawn moist for three to five days.
Multiplying mushrooms: mushrooms are almost impossible to get rid of, however they thrive off moistness so make the grass less hospitable to fungi by fixing the drainage problems and eliminating decaying organic matter. Pull mushrooms out by the stumps, rake up grass clippings, aerate and replace old mulch.
Grass care tip #1: Raking
A cumbersome task but a necessary one to kick start the grass growth. Raking is more than just about removing debris, it’s about controlling the dead organic matter (thatch) and grass blades left over from winter, so make sure you don’t just skim the surface, rake deeply. Raking will also enable you to see if there are other issues in the grass that Mother Nature left for you.
Grass care tip #2: Compaction
If your grass sees high levels of traffic it may show signs of decline such as compacted soil – the presence of moss is a tell tail sign of compaction, and as mentioned earlier you must treat moss differently to weeds.
Lawn aeration can help with compaction, this is the process of spiking to enable air to dry out any poor drainage areas or shaded areas.
Grass care tip #3: Liming
This may not apply to everyone but the presence of moss signifies acidity, and grass likes a neutral pH level. A test will be able to determine the extent of acidity in order to work out a treatment plan. Lime is only a corrective measure to acidity, not a preventative one.
Grass care tip #4: Overseeding
Heavy traffic, neglect and dog spots can cause bare patches in grass, these are areas that especially require grass seed application (also known as overseeding). However, in the autumn keep an eye out for any crabgrass which tends to compete with grass during the warmer months, but frosts have been known to kill crabgrass off.
Grass care tip #5: Fertilizing
Fertilizing is all about feeding your grass; many experts recommend a light feeding of fertilizer in the spring and a heavier one in the autumn in order to “digest” for the following spring. Fertilization can go hand in hand with an application of pre-emergent herbicide which addresses weed control before the seedlings can emerge, forming a shield to inhibit seed germination. However, it has been known that pre-emergent herbicides can also inhibit new grass seed so you should check carefully and decide whether it’s necessary or not.
Grass care tip #6: Pulling weeds
The perennial weeds, such as dandelions, tend to emerge in the springtime. If you don’t fancy these cheerful yellow flowers on your lawn then snapping their flower stems will prevent them from sowing further seeds. Alternatively for the more ambitious you can dig them out at the root.
Grass care tip #6: Tuning in the mower
We’ve looked at grass care, but perhaps the most important piece associated with landscaping is the faithful lawn mower. Whilst some of us see mowing as the least exciting aspect of grass maintenance, it still has to be done but and it can be incredibly rewarding at the end.
Grass needs to be cut regularly to encourage thicker growth, the development of grasses, elimination of coarse grasses and deters the seeding and flowering of weeds. An indication of seasonal grass cutting is as follows:
|Month||Recommended mowing frequency|
|March||Every two weeks|
|April||Every 10 days|
|May – August||At least once a week|
|September – October||Every 10 days|
|November – December||Top off if weather is mild|
Grass care tip #7 Grass cutting technique
Try to alternate the direction in which you mow your grass by switching mowing patterns. This will stop the blade beating at the grass in the same direction each time you cut it which discourages the grass from standing up straight. Another reason to alternate is to avoid grass getting into a rut, literally; when the mower wheels pass over the same area in the same direction it will form ruts over time.
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