Lawn Care - Maintenance
A little lawn maintenance at the start of the year can often safeguard your lawn from many problems that can happen throughout the rest of the year.
For instance it can safeguard against common problems such as moss, weeds and drought.
Circa Week 10-13:
Brush off any windblown debris, and worm casts if conditions allow.
Alternatively, use a spring-tine rake to remove the debris, but don't scarify it*
*Delay scarification of the turf until the autumn, to do it now may thin the lawn too much
If the lawn is troubled with surface water after rain, improve the drainage by spiking it with a garden fork.
If conditions allow, improve the surface soil by brushing in a top-dressing of sieved compost, peat or proprietary lawn dressing.
If any bald patches have apeared in the lawn, lightly rake or fork the surface of the bald area/s prior to seed sowing.
At the same time level out any depressions on the lawn.
Broadcast 20-25g (¾-1 oz) of grass seed per square metre over the prepared area/s and lightly water it in.
If the weather remains dry over the next few days, lightly spray the area taking care not to wash away the seed.
Where edges of lawn are bald or crumbling*, cut out the affected area with a half-moon edging tool or sharp spade.
Loosen the exposed soil and mix in a little fertiliser.
Reverse the damaged turf you have cut away and re-lay it so that a clean edge is formed.
Fill the bare area behind with compost and re-seed, or trim to form a square gap and fill with a new piece of turf.
* If this situation happens regularly consider Installating a proprietary plastic or alloy edging strip to protect the lawn edge.
This will also help to prevent unsightly grass growing out into the border.
Lawns will require mowing at least once a week.
On recently laid lawns set blades a little higher to reduce stress.
Lawns that have become compacted as a result of heavy use will benefit from spiking every two to three years to improve aeration.
Small areas can be spiked with a garden fork, making holes 100-150mm (4"-6") apart.
On clay or waterlogged soils use a hollow-tine aerator* to extract plugs of soil.
Sweep up plugs and brush in a sandy soil mixture to improve air and moisture penetration.
A simple mix is: three parts sandy loam, six parts sharp sand and one part compost or leaf-mould (by volume), applied at 2-3kg per sq m.
Proprietary mixes can be purchased from many garden centres.
*Powered versions can be hired.
Now is a good time to renovate your lawn and give it a chance to respond prior to the onset of winter.
Decisions may have to be made i.e. does it need renovation or relaying*?
If renovation is the answer, start by removing any thatch that has accumulated throughout the year.
Thatch is an accumulation of moss and dead grass stems that have built up on the lawn, this dead growth can impede the absorption of water and fertilisers into the soil.
To rectify this situation scarify the lawn.
On small areas the use of a spring tined rake may suffice, but on larger areas, hiring a powered scarifier may be the better option.
Take care not to scarify too deeply as this might damage the lawn.
Lawns that have sunk or lifted can be re-levelled.
Do this by slicing through turf and rolling it back, then fork the soil below and add or remove soil as necessary.
Replace the turf, and water thoroughly.
* If renovation was the answer follow the instructions for renewal and turfing in the related links column!
Where heavy wear, or the removal of large weeds has left bare patches, fill the gap/s in by re-turfing or breaking up the surface of the soil and sow the affected area with grass seed.
Continue removing late falls of leaves from turf and consign these to the compost heap.
Try to finish off any remaining spiking jobs, but avoid walking across lawns when they are frosted, or covered with snow, as this can lead to damage and disease later.