Whether you have just started caring for a lawn or whether you are an experienced gardener, these top ten tips will help you to achieve your perfect lawn.
Caring for a lawn. It’s something that I do almost every day of the year, and I’ve been doing it for most of my working life. I run a lawn care business in Belfast, Northern Ireland and I know that a simple, but regular lawn care regime brings fabulous results. Here are my top ten tips for caring for a lawn.
- Keep the blades of your lawn mower so sharp that they’ll cut paper.
- Mow your lawn regularly but never remove more than one third of the grass length in one go.
- Buy a good quality lawn feed and apply it regularly.
- Keep on top of weeds and moss – when caring for a lawn, the old adage of ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ has never been more true.
- Mark dates in your diary for lawn care essentials such as feeding, scarifying and applying treatments.
- Scarify established lawns at least once a year.
- Aerate, aerate, aerate. I can’t stress the importance of aeration enough.
- Never neglect leaf clearing duties in the autumn.
- Service your lawn mower in winter once grass growth has slowed.
- Don’t let caring for a lawn rule your life – family and friends are important too!
Bonus tip: Follow Premier Lawns on YouTube for regular, inciteful videos with common sense advice about caring for a lawn.
Let’s take a look at some lawn care basics:
Mowing is the one big thing that can make or break a lawn. Get it right and your lawn will be lush, green and gorgeous all year round – except perhaps during an extreme summer drought.
Whilst it’s tempting to keep your lawn mown really short, bear in mind that only a very few grass species can tolerate close mowing and those that do need a more intensive feeding and watering regime to keep them looking good.
For a family lawn, 4-5cm is a good grass length. The plants will have enough leaf surface area to soak up energy from the sun. Plus, the soil will be shaded. Where you can see the soil through the lawn it will be more vulnerable to moisture loss. Plus, if you can see the soil, so can weed seeds! A thin sward is more likely to be infiltrated by weeds.
Finally, keep those mower blades sharp. Blunt blades don’t cut the grass, they rip bits off it leaving jagged edges and open wounds. If you can pluck a freshly mown blade of grass and see frilly edges, your mower blades need attention. Those open wounds could let disease spores enter the plant. A clean cut heals quicker.
I can’t deny that grass will grow without humans adding feed to the soil. But it won’t be anywhere near as lush or green as a lawn that is well nourished.
Always invest in a good quality lawn feed and try to find one that nourishes soil microbes as well as grass plants. Plants and soil microbes work in partnership in ways that we are only just beginning to understand.
Lawn treatments such as seaweed tonic and humid acid are a useful supplement (but not a substate!) to feeding. As well as giving the plants a nice boost of essential micronutrients, they help to support the soil microbes that do so much towards fixing nutrients in the soil and combatting common lawn diseases.
My lawn feeding blog is full of tips and tricks for getting the best possible results with the least possible effort. Click here to read the blog now – I’ll post the link again at the end of the article.
Controlling Moss And Weeds
Opinion is divided on weeds in the lawn. Some people think of them as wildflowers and embrace the benefits they offer to struggling insect populations. Others feel that weeds spoil the look of their lawn. It’s for you to decide how many (if any) non-grass plants you can tolerate in your lawn.
If you do wish to remove weeds and wildflowers in your lawn, I’d strongly advocate digging them up by hand if you can. It’s a surprisingly relaxing activity and you’ll be able to pat yourself on the back for avoiding the use of chemicals in your garden. However, if you are faced with an infestation, a blast with an appropriate herbicide is probably a necessity. Take advice on which weedkiller to use and follow the manufacturers recommendations to the letter.
Moss is another pest in the lawn and I do recommend that you try to keep it under control. Scarifying will pull most of the moss out of the sward. You can follow scarifying with an application of Iron Sulphate to get rid of any remaining mossy matter. But don’t forget that caring for a lawn is as much about prevention as it is about cure.
Your lawn care regime is going to be fairly repetitive for most of the year. Regular mowing, sensible feeding, a monthly tonic and keeping debris off the lawn. However, once or twice a year, I recommend pulling up your sleeves and carrying out some renovation works.
Aeration: Relieving soil compaction means that water, air and plant feed can circulate better in the soil. This helps to ensure that every part of the plant from the roots to the shoots receives everything it needs for healthy growth. Aeration will also encourage roots to grow deeper where they can access groundwater in a drought and be protected against hard frosts.
Scarification: This is like spring cleaning your lawn. Although you can scarify in autumn or spring. Scarification takes out the dead vegetation, moss, debris and trapped fungal spores that form the thatch layer in your lawn. A thick layer of thatch will slow down the rate of water absorption and may even result in water running off your lawn instead of filtering down to the roots. It’s an incredibly satisfying job and I’m always amazed at the amount of thatch that can accumulate in a year.
Scarifying is a crucial job for anyone caring for a lawn. Read more about it in this blog.
Finally, a quick word about getting the lawn-life balance. A perfect lawn is something to aspire to and there are lots of tweaks and tips I could share with you to help you reach the point where you are completely satisfied with your outdoor carpet. But caring for a lawn can easily become an obsession. Please don’t let it rule your life. If you’re a week late with a feed or you forget to apply a treatment, the world won’t come to an end. We’re all still recovering from Lockdown days, so go out, spend time with friends and family and make some memories. Then on the way home you can nip into the garden centre to buy that new edging tool you’ve been hankering after.