A lawn provides a simple but stunning centrepiece for the garden, waiting to be framed by borders and planting.
Whilst lawn care may not seem as fun as selecting which plants to nurture, maintaining your lawn needn’t be a chore. With some simple steps, you can have a lush, striped lawn to rival any bowling green.
Here are our top tips to have your neighbours green with envy!
It is best to do most of these preparation steps in the autumn months if possible when lawn growth has slowed down, it then has enough time to recover for the spring and summer months.
Dead grass and debris can easily build up to cause unsightly thatch, which in turn blocks air and sunlight getting to the grass and a vicious circle begins. Depending on the size of your lawn and the scale of your problem, you can choose between a manual lawn rake or a powered scarifier to help clear the lawn. The autumn months are the best time to give it a vigorous rake but be careful not to be too forceful and rake too deeply if the turf gets damaged it can take a long time to recover.
Like any plant, the key to good health is taking care of the root. This is certainly true of grass. Make sure the root gets maximum oxygen by doing all you can to improve drainage. The best way to do this is through aeration.
Similarly to scarification, the best tool for the job depends on your lawn size. You can again invest in a powered machine, or you can simply pick up a garden fork and insert the spikes roughly 15cm deep every 30cm around the lawn, focussing particularly on any areas where damp and flooding is a problem. This will prevent moss growth and give you a healthier, greener lawn.
Top dressing is highly beneficial and can save you time in the long run. If you are planning to aerate or scarify your lawn do so prior to top dressing. As always timing is critical so only do this when growth conditions are good. Top dressing improves drainage, helps root growth, and should be applied when grass is in an active growth period with a generally dry surface. Scatter evenly across your lawn and use the back of a rake to work into the ground, focusing on filling any gaps created by aeration.
If you have some large unsightly bumps or dips in your lawn, you’ll need to do a few small procedures to rectify. You can do this by lifting and rolling back the turf of the offending bump or dip using an edging iron or spade. Turn over the ground underneath and then remove or add soil until you have flattened out the area. Pull the turf back over, press firmly around the edges and water generously.
Once all the steps above have been done, check the lawn for any patches or worn areas. Sprinkle lawn seed over the worn parts and lightly rake into the ground and apply patch repair to small missing patches. Firm the ground once applied by taking a walk over the areas
Invest in the right machinery! There are lots of options on the market from petrol, to electric and battery, from rotary to cylinder, and walk behind to ride on. There’s an option for everyone! Head to your local Hillier Garden Centre and speak to our experts for their recommendations as to what is right for you and your garden.
If you’re after a striped finish then a rear roller mower is recommended. Creating stripes is all about the way you mow – mow the lawn up and down with a roller mower to make perfect stripes. This is because the roller flattens the grass so that it lays flat in the direction in which you’ve mowed.
The first cut is the most important. It may be tempting to jump straight in and cut the grass low to kick off the season, in fact, you need to do the opposite. On the first mow you need to be gentle to protect the grass’ roots which will be soft and delicate after the winter. A shortcut will weaken the grass and encourage weeds and moss problems. Cut on a higher setting, then repeat a few days later on a lower cut height. Then be sure to mow regularly throughout the season.
During early spring target small patches of weeds with a dedicated lawn weedkiller, and use a moss killer if needed when the weather is good. When mid spring arrives, lightly rake out any dead moss and overseed any bare areas. You can top dress a little if needed.
Using a good quality feed will provide your lawn with the nutrients it needs to maintain its health and reduce the shock of the first cut. Make sure you use a spring mix to give it the right balance of essential nutrients and feed for this time of year.
We recommend a lawn feed like Evergreen Complete 4 in 1. It should be applied evenly when the soil is moist and rainfall is expected. During prolonged dry spells, you will need to water the lawn for several days after application.
A perfect lawn can instantly be ruined by messy edging! Use a half-moon lawn edger like the one above from Burgon & Ball and a pair of edging shears, and you can solve this in a flash. Be sure to collect up the trimmings afterwards to stop the cut grass and debris building up on the lawn.
Achieving a striped finish
If you’re after a striped finish then a rear roller mower is recommended and the lawn needs to be mown up and down to perfect your stripes. This is because the roller flattens the grass so that it lays flat in the direction in which you’ve mowed. Finish the effect with clean sharp lawn edges using a half moon edger.
Our friends over at Westland Garden Health have provided some great tips for reviving your lawn after a drought.
What happens to the grass in drought conditions?
The grass will try to fight by increasing the root system to reach for water. Because of this, it focuses resources to keep the roots alive and as a consequence will turn brown/yellow. So in most cases the grass is not dead, just dormant, and uses as little water as possible to survive this dry spell.
To find out if your grass is dormant or dead: pull it! If the grass comes out easily, with no resistance if is dead. If this doesn’t happen it means the roots are still alive. Another test is watering a small section to see if it starts greening.
What to do in the meantime?
1. Leave the grass to grow. A longer grass will give shade to roots and encourage them to grow as well, so raising the height of the lawnmower is recommended.
2. Don’t use top dressing or weedkillers on the lawn during this period. Avoid fertilisers unless you are able to water the lawn (think of water resource in your area)
Light drought – recovery should be apparent within 7-10 days
Medium drought – recovery should be apparent within 7-14 days
Heavy drought – recovery should be apparent within 2-3 weeks
How do I recover my lawn?
- Rake the lawn lightly and remove any loose material
- Water, water and water! (think of the resource in your area).If it does not rain, water heavily for a couple of days. After this period water as normal. Is always better to give a good soak but less frequently instead of little and often. This will encourage deep rooting.
- Avoid high traffic when it is recovering to avoid more stress.
- After watering there may be some patchy areas. To repair, rake the area and remove dead grass. Apply Gro-Sure Smart Patch, as it contains watering retaining granules and is guaranteed to repair any patch.
- Once the grass is recovering, apply a balanced fertiliser to replenish soil nutrients and boost the lawn health. Westland SafeLawn releases nutrients gradually to avoid stress and includes grass seed to fill thinning areas.
- If your grass is very sparse or worn, we recommend overseeding the whole lawn with Gro-Sure Smart Lawn seed. It contains a clever aqua gel coating that can absorb 400 times its weight in water to guarantee germination.
- Finally, if your lawn is dead, you will need to re-turf or sow a new lawn with Gro-Sure Smart Lawn seed, a quality blend that will help prevent this happening if another dry spell occurs. Keep watering well to help seed germination.
Gro-Sure Smart Lawn Seed, Gro-Sure Smart Patch, Westland Safelawn