How To Grow And Maintain The Perfect Lawn

When most people talk about lawn maintenance, they tend to think about mowing the lawn and watering the grass. There is also fertilizing, aerating, and much more. With the best approach, your garden can be healthy enough to withstand disease, weeds, and drought on its own.

A luxurious, lofty, and well-kept lawn is the perfect green guard for colorful herbaceous borders, and a high setting for summer barbecues.

Follow these easy steps and maintain proper maintenance to avoid having a dull, weed-infested lawn ever again!

Many of these methods are best used on the autumn lawn and in spring to provide the best opportunity for the grass to improve and grow during summer.


Spring and Summer Care

The lawn grows actively at this time of year and needs nurturing, moss-killing, weeding, and proper mowing. Spring is also an appropriate time to over-seed scattered areas.

All gardens need feeding to keep strength and vigor. Look for signs of pest or disease when feeding and, if required, apply a moss killer. Routine care is the best way to handle a lawn. Therefore, you may avoid the need for improvement later on.

The lawn doesn't grow much in the winter, but when the weather warms up, you can start mowing in early spring. This is also a good time to over-seed faded areas during the wintertime.


Lawn Care Treatments

There are several different steps to proper lawn maintenance. Each step ensures that every grass blade is adequately established, healthy, and well maintained. Here are some of the critical maintenance steps to guarantee you have the healthiest lawn possible.

Mowing your lawn regularly can lead to beautiful green growth. Nip weeds like dandelions to prevent them from fighting with the grass and spread grass seed in bare patches to make them grow again. In dry summers, use your lawn with stored rainwater and greywater to stop its oxidation.

Spike the lawn with a fork to aerate injured areas to help bring them back to life, and clean out dead growth in autumn to keep a vibrant, green grass.


Mowing

Mowing your garden is more than just grass cutting. Mowing cuts the top part of the grass, letting the roots to get more water and grow healthier. It can be hard for your roots to receive the water they need if you allow your grass to grow too high.

Cut your grass in the summer at least once a week. You can do it once every two weeks in the spring, autumn, and warm winters. Daily trimming allows roots to disperse and help fill gaps and obstruct weeds.

In summer, raise the cutting height of your mower to leave the lawn longer – approximately 10 cm, making it less prone to brown in dry weather. Maintain your mower in good condition and keep the blades sharp.

Lawn Height should be long enough to be healthy, but we still want it short enough to be pleasing on the eye.


Lawn Mowing Top Tips

  • Tall grass blades provide shade to the lower blades and when a deep cut is made, lower blades are exposed and can scalded by the sun.
  • Removing too much of the grass leaf reduces the amount of nutrients in the plant at a time of stress.
  • Recommended mowing height for a family home lawn is 25mm.
  • Fine ornamental lawns can be taken down to 12mm.
  • Never cut more than one third in a single mowing

Sharp blades for a sharp looking lawn

Cutting with a dull or blunt blade may cause damage leaving ragged grass blades which can turn yellow, brown and die off. A sharp blade gives a nice even cut for a healthy lawn.

It is recommended to sharpen the blades once a year.


Can I leave clippings on the lawn?

Leaving clippings on the lawn is fine if it’s a very small amount, however, a thick layer of clippings can kill the grass beneath. In spring and early summer when growth is strong its best to remove the clippings for compost.

When grass growth is small the clippings can be left on the turf, this feed the soil creating a mulch. Some mowers create mulch for you by cutting the grass very finely and returning it to the turf.


Relieve Compacted Grass

Compact soil prevents grass from growing properly and can lead to bare patches in summer and mud baths in winter.

Release the compaction and aerate the soil by pushing a garden fork about 10 cm into the ground every 10 cm and gently moving back and forth on the fork handle. The spikes open up the soil, allowing the roots to breathe and encouraging the grass to regrow.

On dense surfaces, such as clay soils, brush sharp sand or fine grit into the holes to increase drainage and avoid further compaction.


Mulch Clippings

Mulching grass clippings can supply your soil with more nutrients. As they start breaking down, the cuttings can discharge nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. These nutrients are essential to keep your lawn healthy. To avoid a thick hatch of grass cuttings on the garden, make sure your grass is reasonably higher. Don't wait too long before mowing a lawn. It would be best if you mowed regularly and consistently, so clippings do not turn into thatching.

Grass clippings can accomplish several tasks in the landscape, add nutrients, and keep your lawn waste bin empty. Also, mulching with grass clippings in the lawn or the garden bed is the most ancient method for soil improvement, weed control, and moisture preservation.


Why Is Moss Growing in My Lawn?

Have you been looking for a way to kill moss in your garden? If you are not careful enough, moss may quickly outgrow the grass which surrounds it. Getting rid of the moss early can make your lawn healthier and more blooming all year long. Although many people don't first notice moss, it can be difficult to miss when it begins to take over.

There are many reasons you may see undesired growth of moss around your lawn. Most of them tend to be damage issues with your grass. These are the most common problems leading to moss increase.

  • Low soil pH: It is much more helpful to moss development when your soil pH is too weak.
  • Poor drainage: When the soil is incapable of draining, it stays wet and moist. This encourages moss to overgrow. 
  • Compacted soil: When your garden has compacted soil, it means that there is less drainage capacity. 

Too much shade: A great deal of shade can make it difficult to grow grass. Moss requires a cool, dark spot to develop. This means that when the grass is just beginning to hold, moss insects can strangle out any grass seed that you have laid. 


How Do I Get Rid of Moss?

Moss is a tiny flowerless green plant that lacks real roots, developing in low carpets or rounded cushions in wet environments. There are a few choices you can take when it comes to getting rid of moss. However, make sure one of them doesn't just apply lime to the soil.

This is because moss is so excessive that it can grow almost everywhere or on all sorts of grounds. Let's have a look at some practical steps that you can take to remove moss from your garden.

  • Rake up living moss: Start by raking up the moss that is already thriving in your garden. 
  • Mow: Next, mow the place and get down wherever you can to bare soil. 

Use products for moss control: From here, there are many products you can use to the lawn to kill the moss. Many have applied simple products such as dish soap or hot water with a little baking soda combined into it and found them to be useful.

Iron products such as ferrous sulfate or iron sulfate are the most effective products to kill or reduce moss extension.

These products are best suited when the moss is wet and in a developing stage. This is preferably applied in autumn, winter, or very early in spring.

Increase drainage: Moss in compacted soil grows more quickly. If you work to enhance drainage in your garden, the areas where moss grows can be less moist year-round. This encourages you to avoid future moss increase.

Fertilize: Use fertilizer to help the rest of the soil grow more effectively. The thicker the grass, the less likely moss is to develop.


How Do I Prevent Moss From Coming Back?

The last thing that you want when you get rid of your moss is to get it back next season. Here are a few effective actions that you can take to make sure your moss stays away for good.

Conduct a soil test

First, you need to perform a soil test to ensure your soil is suitable to grass growing. If your clay is too acidic or too chemical, there is a chance to see moss growing than grass. 

Mow regularly

Mowing your lawn maintains your grass healthy and ensures it gets the nutrients needed form the root. It can also allow the soil beneath the grass to dry more efficiently than when the grass is long, preventing moss from growing further. 

Feed your lawn

Ensure that you feed your lawn the nutrients it needs to stimulate grass growth. This means applying fertilizer and nutrients when your garden starts developing in early spring and maintaining it throughout the growing seasons. 

Aerate

When the soil is compacted, the grass's roots may not have enough air. It could slow or prevent growth. By taking the time to dethatch your lawn and aerate the soil, the grass is more likely to grow healthier than it was before. This indicates more grass growth and less moss.


Which Lawn Feed Should I Use?

Most lawns should profit from regular feeding. Without additional nutrients, the grass soon applies up plant food resources in the soil and then becomes pale and thin.

The lawn seed is also open to weeds and moss, which thrive on low nutrient conditions without food to grow side shoots and thickness. On the other hand, a regular supply of extra food makes your lawn lush and green.

Some lawn treatments feed your garden lawn and are perfect if your yard is free of weed and moss, but others have combined ingredients such as weed killers or moss killers.

The idea some lawn feeds are more beneficial than others is because they can deliver nitrogen and feed for several weeks rather than in one rush soon after treatment.


Spring and Summer Lawn Feeding

For spring feeding, make sure to apply a product that includes feed, weed killers, and moss protection. It can quickly enable the grass to regrow, to control weeds present in your garden, and kill the moss that could have invaded the lawn during the winter period.

When the weeds and moss are under control in the spring, move over to a lawn feed to maintain the grass thick and green. Liquid lawn feeds through a hose-end feeder are suitable for use in late summer, as they also water the garden in dry times.

The garden grass can stop growing when the weather turns dry, and there can be no nutrition or feed. Also, during extended dry periods, the lawn starts to stress and becomes more sensitive to damage by lawn fertilizers. From that point on, you have to take extra care of your garden lawn.

Stop feeding your lawn under these conditions, wait until it rains to let the water soak in for some days, and then begin feeding again. Depending on the weather, feed during the summer at 6-8 week intervals.


Autumn Lawn Feeding

Your lawn requires another form of fertilizer in the autumn that holds grass developing at a slow pace, not so abundant but still green. It also strengthens your garden for the winter, building up the roots and quality of the grass to survive the cold.

Autumn lawn nutrients should be low in nitrogen because we do not want to facilitate any top growth that can be weak and easily damaged by frost.

Feeding in the autumn aims to strengthen proper root development so that your lawn recovers fast from a rough winter and put on productive green growth in spring.

Feeding in autumn helps encourage strong root growth, so your lawn can recover quickly from a harsh winter and put on abundant green growth in spring. Autumn feeding is the most significant feed and an essential component of lawn maintenance!

Whichever product you are applying, always read the description carefully before use and apply as instructed.


Over-Seeding

Following removal of moss or weed, over-seeding may be highly required. Early autumn is the best time to do this task, but it is also convenient in mid-spring.

  • Break the surface with a fork and clean it to make a reasonably lovely surface.
  • Plant grass seed at half the suggested rate
  • Gently rake to add the seed to the surface.
  • Clear the area if the birds tend to be a problem.
  • Make sure to water lightly with a sprinkler if the weather stays dry for two or three days.
  • Grass should grow seven to 10 days after sowing.

In densely used places, you should choose a hardwearing blend that includes ryegrass. Most lawn grasses do not flourish in the shade, so choose a shade-tolerant combination for these areas.

Over-seeding stimulates exhausted and worn out gardens by covering the whole area with large amounts of seed mixed with fertilizer. This is used to fill damaged areas while enhancing the color and reducing the risk of weed and moss attacks.

When over-seeding the lawn, it can be tough to meet the color of a new seed mix with your current lawn. In these situations, it may be essential to over-seed the entire lawn fulfill uniformity of shade and texture.

Despite appropriate precautions, areas of dry shade like under trees become very scattered very quickly. You may also consider annual over-seeding to keep a healthy lawn.

Also, you should add a top dressing to preserve the seeds and present nourishment. Spring is an excellent time to restore damage to lawns caused by insects, diseases, or mechanical damage.


Watering

During the summer months in the hot weather it is a good idea to give the lawn hydration with a good watering from a garden sprinkler. If you notice the blades of grass change colour slightly and become dull this is a sign watering is needed. You may also notice the lawn becoming less springy.

Avoid watering the garden in the evening as wet grass over night promotes disease. The ideal time is early morning before the strongest heat of the day.

Water deeply to at least half an inch for clay soils and an inch for sandy soil types. A handy tip for measuring this is to use an old container such as a jam jar placed on the ground under the sprinkler. Make a note of how long the container takes to fill to required level (half inch to inch) and use this as a rough guide in the future.

To maintain a green turf, you should water when the ground gets dry, but before the lawn turns yellow or brown. If the soil is firm, aerate it with a garden fork before watering to help water penetration.

It is adequate to water once a week to every ten days. Make sure that after each watering, the water reaches a depth of about 10 cm. Always water young lawns, but do not overwater because they can root and settle poorly.

Sprinklers are ideal to hydrate lawns but use plenty of mains water and are not allowed during a hosepipe ban.


Remove Weeds

Every lawn has the potential to have troublesome and dangerous weeds show up over and over. Using pesticides to cut down on weeds aims to guarantee that your grass earns the fertilizer and resources that you add to your lawn. If your weeds get too excessive, they can suffocate your grass and trigger brown spots.

The use of fertilizers is essential to keep your grass growing. However, to effectively fertilize your garden, you need to know when to improve your soil. The best time to feed depends on your weather and type of grass.

Lawn weeds can develop as both seed heads and herbs, with a wide range of types that are prevalent in lawns. The best option is to remove the entire weed, including roots. This can be done manually or by using a tool. However, you can try to spray the weeds directly with a low toxicity herbicide if there is a large amount of it. 


Thatch

In lawn care, thatch is an organic layer, consisting of dead leaves, grass and root stem that can build between the leaves and the soil. This build-up blocks the soil, stopping essential moisture and nutrients from entering the ground and down to the roots.

Scarifying is a technique used to dig into the grass and create slits in the lawn, this process removes the build up of thatch and moss. Thatch can prevent growth by stealing the nutrients and water needed by the lawn which undermines a healthy lawn.

Thatch is a natural part of the lawn, it occurs when shoots of grass are dying, these shoots drop beneath the surface of the lawn which build up and effectively choke the lawn. Unfortunately, the dead shoots do not break down or decay.


How do we know if we have a thatch problem?

  1. The lawn may feel excessively springy and bouncy
  2. Can you see the soil between the lawn? If not, this could be a patch of thatch.
  3. Take a sample of 3 inches with a trowel, if the thatch is building up over a half inch thick then it is a good time to consider scarifying the lawn.

Scarifying the lawn can be done with a rake, and this may be OK for very small gardens, however it is not the best method if there is a lot of thatch build up. Not to mention using a rake is hard work. For the best results, we recommend investing in a mechanical scarifier.

There are a couple of different tools for scarifying…

  • Scarifiers with curved sharp blades
  • Scarifiers with tines
  • Combi scarifiers that include tines and blades
  • Combi aerator/scarifiers

Lots of long teeth will make a mess of the lawn but it will grow back healthier.


Insects and Other Pests

If you have pests that infiltrate your garden, they can ruin your plants, the grass, and end up taking the nutrients out of your plant roots. You have to know which pesticides and chemicals are safe to use to get rid of the insects without affecting your plants.

Ants

Mostly seen in the summer living in dry soils and often form large hills which can an eye sore on the lawn. Ants make tunnelling systems under the ground and will cut through grass roots which is not good for the lawn!

Ant Bait Stations can be placed next to hills on the lawn. The bait station attracts ants to feed on the mixture inside and take the food back into the colony. Ant bait stations typically take 1 to 2 weeks for complete eradication depending on the size of the infestation.

A quicker way to get rid of ants is to use Ant Killer Sachets which can be added to water and poured over the affected areas. This kind of product may also kill the grass in the area, so the choice depends on how quickly you need remove the ant infestation.

Red Thread

Common fungal patch disease which affects many lawns in the UK during spring, early and autumn time. Identifying red thread disease, you will see discoloured patches on the lawn. The areas can be small and may become larger as the it spreads. Looking closer at the affected patches, you will see a distinct pink colour

The spores of the fungus occur in the thatch layer and soil. Grass plants are infected through the leaves. The red or pink threads you see are the fruiting body of the fungus and will drop spores back into the thatch layer.

Red thread disease can be treated with a lawn feed to boost the health of the grass plants. Fungicides can be used but these are expensive, and they don’t work too well so we tend to stay away from those types of products.

Avoid the return of red thread disease by maintaining a good healthy lawn using the techniques in this guide particularly scarifying and aeration. Removing the thatch will also remove the spores that held within.

You can learn more about Red Thread Disease at RHS here.

Toadstools

Generally a sign of a good healthy lawn and can appear on any lawn given the right conditions. Toadstool can be removed by picking them from the ground by hand or mowing. If you don’t mind them and think they add a nice feature, leave them be. Perfectly safe for the lawn and will not do any damage. Gardeners World have a good identification article here if you wish to dg deeper.


Soil Permeability

High levels of soil clay, dense areas of thatch, soil compaction and root layers may all lead to the prevention of water absorption. Aeration can enhance the water flow and air to decrease the ground build up. Alternatively, shifting the nature of your soil can help to achieve the desired level of drainage.


Aerate the Lawn

This method leads to a better infiltration of air and water into the grass-root zone, which is critical for the growth of the right nutrients. It is a good way to maintain lawns that are impacted by water shortage or waterlogging.

Aeration is achieved by making small holes in the soil at regular intervals and depths and can be accomplished by using a garden fork or specially conceived tools and machines. Even aerating shoes are available!

Aeration also enables air, rain, and a nutrient to enter a solid surface, enhances the bacterial activity, and supports decrease thatch. Not only it improves the surface drainage, but also increases water holding ability, and therefore boosts rooting and root depth, offering more drought-tolerant gardens.

Timing is important. You can aerate in the spring. However, it is usually best to aerate first, then use any weed killers to cover the open holes from weeds.


Edging

Edging a lawn is the final touch of a healthy, trimmed lawn. Use two shears to determine the edge of your yard and stop the grass growing to the sides. It helps to clean your garden instantly and creates a satisfying finish.

Once the lawn has developed into the border, use a shovel or half-moon edger to reshape it and form a shallow ‘moat’ or place permanent edging that the grass can’t pass.

The necessary mowing can be reduced when the weather is colder, especially during the frost. Warmer weather makes the summer mowing more frequent as the grass grows faster.

Avoid mowing when the soil or grass is moist, as this can lead to more harm to the lawn and hinder healthy growth in the future.


Top Dressing

This is used to enhance the quality of the current soil, provide additional resistance to drought and drainage. Therefore, you remove any imperfections.

As with all other care and maintenance techniques, the soil quality of your garden would need to be examined to obtain the right equipment and consistency when making your top dressing.

Using these top steps to continuously control, maintain your lawn, and remove undesirable surface debris can make your garden look green and healthy.


Download Free Lawn Care Calendar


Bonus Section: Lawn Care Calendar

Spring

March

  • Ground warming up
  • Sow new seed
  • Scarify
  • First cut of the year
  • Gradually reduce the cutting height
  • Moss and weed killing

April

  • Kill moss before removing, if its scarified before dead then moss can spread
  • Scarify lawn
  • Sow new seed to bare patches

May

  • Lawn should be a correct height

Summer

June and July

  • Mow more often as summer the lawn will grow the fastest
  • Water in hot weather

August

  • Hottest month of the year
  • Extreme heat may scorch the lawn and turn it brown
  • Water more frequently
  • Long periods of extreme heat may want to cut at a higher length to protect the soil from the heat

Autumn

September

  • Starting to cool
  • Reduce watering
  • Scarify last time
  • Aerate for better drainage and growth
  • Reduce frequency of cutting
  • Sow new seed to damaged areas

October

  • Remove autumn leaves
  • Use a fertiliser

November

  • Aerate the lawn

Winter

December and January

  • Winter is here and frost may be setting in
  • Stay off the lawn to damaging grass in frost
  • Wait for spring

February

  • Spring is almost here
  • May want to check out the equipment and sharpen those blades

Conclusion

Maintaining a lawn may seem like a fantastic landscape if you do apply some tested techniques to make your garden look neat and beautiful. Like any plant, grass needs to grow and flourish with soil nutrients, sun, and water.

A healthy lawn needs some basic understanding of its maintenance and care. You can be proud of your lawn if you keep it watered, cut, and adequately fed.

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This post was published on June 27, 2020

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