Does your lawn have bare patches? Is the grass growth poor? Is it very susceptible to drought? Keeping your lawn in good condition is one of the best ways of making your garden look good.
You will need:
- Lawn sprinkler
- Balanced fertiliser
- High nitrogen fertiliser
- Garden fork
- Coarse sand
- Lawn mower
- Edge trimmers
Step 1: Watering
- Watering is only necessary in dry, warm periods. After about a week without rain, grass starts to turn yellow, so water before the problem gets worse.
- Infrequent heavy watering is better than daily splashes. The minimum to apply is 9 litres per square metre (2 gallons per square yard).
- The simplest method is to use a lawn sprinkler – the oscillating type is best as there is little overlap between adjacent areas.
Step 2: Feeding
- Feeding encourages strong healthy growth and builds resistance to weeds, moss and drought. Use a distributor or spread by hand.
- In spring, apply a general balanced fertiliser. You could buy a proprietary type, or an organic equivalent, at the rate of about 50g/square metre (2oz/square yard).
- In summer, feed monthly with a high nitrogen fertiliser. Use a proprietary feed or a sulphate of ammonia at about 12.5 g/square metre (1/2oz/square yard).
- Dilute first and apply using a watering can to avoid scorching. Do not use after August.
- In autumn, apply a general balanced fertiliser or one higher in potash to ‘harden off’ the grass before winter.
Step 3: Aerating
- Poor aeration causes poor root growth, making the grass sparse and weak.
- Increase aeration by using an ordinary garden fork in autumn: insert vertically and push in as deeply as possible every 15cm (6in) across the whole lawn.
- If your problem is particularly bad, you may need to use a hollow tine fork which removes a core of soil and makes bigger holes.
- Holes left in your lawn following treatment can be filled with coarse sand brushed over the surface.
Step 4: Scarification
- Raking your lawn vigorously removes accumulated dead plant material (thatch) that prevents the penetration of rain and encourages plant diseases and makes the lawn feel ‘springy’ to walk over.
- Using a garden rake or a spring-tine rake, work on small areas at a time, raking vigorously.
- This is hard work, so take your time – the job does not have to be completed in one go. The accumulated material should be removed and placed in your compost heap.
- Scarification is best carried out in September as soon as the cooler temperatures reduce grass growth.
Step 5: Mowing
- The height of the cut is crucial to maintaining a healthy lawn. If your lawn is used regularly it should not be cut to less than 2.5cm (1in) each week. Lightly-used lawns can be cut to 1.2cm (1/2in) – up to twice a week if the grass is growing well.
- Mow when the grass is dry and try not to overlap the previous cut.
- Alternate cuts should be started in different directions to ensure the lawn is mown evenly. This prevents coarser grasses from becoming established.
- In hot weather, and whenever growth is slow such as in spring and autumn, increase the length of cut and the time between cuttings.
- Cuttings should usually be removed unless drought conditions prevail and you are prevented from watering.
Step 6: Trimming the edges
- Adding a mowing strip ensures your mower can reach right to the edges, but there will still be grass to trim. Trimming the edge of your lawn neatly can ‘set off’ your whole garden.
- Normal lawn shears can be used but a pair of long-handled edge trimmers makes the job easier.
- Trimming isn’t necessary after every cut – every 7 or 10 days is about right.