Grass isn’t just the most resilient and adaptable plant on the planet: it’s what brings serenity and the perfect backdrop to our gardens and open spaces. It cools us in the summer, it softens the colourful fireworks of our borders and flowerbeds, it’s the canvas onto which gardeners paint the rest of their garden. It’s been doing this for a very, very long time. Fads have come and gone but in the post-decking age the lawn continues to thrive. And for good reason – it is the part of the garden that best supports essential biodiversity and, cared for properly, is one of the most environmentally-responsible parts too.
Late spring can be unpredictable, if the weather starts to improve, soil temperatures start to rise and the grass soon grows. However if it is a poor late spring, hardly anything seems to happen at all, so be prepared to implement your lawn care plans, but adapt when necessary!
Read the tips below from David Hedges Gower, the chairman of the newly formed Lawn Association, for the best way to look after your lawn this season.
Good mowing isn’t just about making the lawn look good; it’s a critical pruning technique, and like any technique, it requires a little bit of skill and knowledge:
- Height: For a general lawn there’s a simple rule of thumb that we can borrow from the professionals – cut no more than a 1/3 of the leaf blade in one go. So, for example, if you like your grass to be 2”, then leave it first to reach 3” before cutting.
- Frequency: Once a week is enough when growth is good. However, twice a week, removing half as much each time, will offer you twice the benefit.
- Direction: Mow in different patterns to ensure the lawn doesn’t produce ‘grain’.
- Blade: Always keep your lawn mower blade sharp. Ideally a rotary mower blade should be given a ‘new’ edge each time you mow. Sounds like hard work? It’s actually really easy if you keep a spare blade – you can switch it in a moment, and sharpen the blunt one when you have a spare moment.
- Clean your mower! Hard, stuck clumps of dried grass will interfere with its ‘collecting’ performance and drop onto your lawn. So after every mow remember to clean the underside of the mower.
Last Minute Renovation
Both scarification and aeration can still be carried out. However, as we head closer towards mid-summer, you may need to water the lawn to prevent stress; it’s a good idea to look at some weather forecasts to see if nature’s clouds can lend a hand.
- Scarification: As the ground temperature begins to rise, this is a great time to prune your grasses and remove thatch and moss. Scarifying is our way of pruning our natural grasses (yes, we prune other plants and know what results that brings)– it also thins out the thatch layer. You should scarify once every year but the rewards are worth it. Remember though, your lawn needs some thatch – just not too much. And by keeping it under control you will also deter moss (see below). A healthy thatch layer will also protect the soil from the effects of the sun but still allow rainwater to percolate through and fertilizer to break down efficiently. A wire rake is good for tidying, but to scarify use a proper machine. This slices through the shoots and stolons (pruning), and this is what gives you the thick grow-back. You can buy or rent one very easily. And the thatch you remove makes great compost
- Aeration: If the weather is suitable, hollow-tine aerate your lawn when conditions allow and before the onset of dry weather. One of the most important and beneficial things you can do for your lawn is to help it to breathe – but I’m talking about aerating below the surface, not up on top. Do not use a garden fork – just don’t! This is was designed for digging, not for aerating your lawn. An ordinary fork actually squashes the, already compacted soil even more, making conditions down there even worse. You need a hollow-tine aerating tool, one that carefully removes tubes of soil without disturbing the surrounding earth. Buy a hollow-tine fork or hire a mechanical hollow-tine aerator. And you don’t need fill up the holes with sand – ;( finding a correct sand with the right particle size and shape is hard enough) you need the air to work on the soil microbes and bacteria and by leaving them open the oxygen can work for many months. Let your soil breathe!
These tips will ensure that you have a healthy and happy garden for the whole year! Why not join our ‘Lawn Association’ to learn more?
Our core mission is to make accurate lawn care information readily available via our website and through our Free Membership Scheme for gardening enthusiasts. Go to the @LawnAssociation Facebook page to join the Lawn Enthusiasts Group, and get free association membership via the website, http://www.lawnassociation.org.uk