The short, cold, wet and windy days of winter are finally coming to an end and so it’s time to get back out to the garden. As your lawn has just been through quite a tough period, you’re going to have to be especially careful when carrying out the jobs needed to get it ready for the year ahead.
With proper preparation and spring lawn care maintenance you can get the lawn back to its best in no time, allowing you to enjoy it with your family and friends whenever you please, as well as making it the envy of your neighbourhood.
Just follow my tips below and you’ll be well on your way to a beautiful looking lawn.
To prevent your grass from becoming too stressed make sure your lawn mower is set to a height setting that doesn’t take off any more than a 1/3 off the grass blades.
You’ll also want to mow a little and often, about once a week should suffice at the beginning of spring. Just remember to build this up a little more as we move into summer.
Aim to keep the height of your grass the same throughout the entirety of spring, of course this will be different for everyone and depends on your lawn. For most people this should be between 3cm to 4cm, for those with a lawn that’s been through a bit of wear and tear keep it little longer at about 4cm to 5cm, and for those with a shaded lawn keep the height at around 5cm.
To stay on the safe side, try to aim a little above these lengths as going under could have some pretty annoying side effects. Mowing too short could mean you’re weakening the grass, which increase the likelihood of weeds and moss showing up. They can be a real pain so try to avoid them the best you can (prevention is always better than cure).
Now this shouldn’t be necessary for those with mulching or robotic lawn mowers, but if you want to give your lawn that extra something, then you might want to consider some fertilisers. There are loads of organic and synthetic fertilisers to choose from, granules or liquid fertilisers, it’s really up to your preference which one you choose. Of course, it goes without saying that there are many advantages of using organic fertilisers.
Feeding your lawn in early spring will make the roots stronger and healthier and will provide a great start before the growing season. If you would like to learn more about when to fertilise during the year, how to use fertiliser properly, what to do after you have fertilised and the best tools available for the job, you can read my lawn fertiliser schedule article.
You also might need to deal with weeds at some point so stocking up on a pre-emergent herbicide would be a good idea. Just remember to apply to the weeds individually so none goes to waste and doesn’t impact the grass. They usually last about 3 months so you might need to re-apply during summer.
You can of course try to make your own homemade organic weed killer that is very easy, cheap and quick to make. You will only need to mix 3 ingredients together and spray (vinegar, salt and washing up liquid).
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Depending on the amount of wear and tear your lawn has received over the winter months, you might need to overseed during the beginning of spring, especially if you have some damaged/bare spots.
So that your seeding is effective, make sure you aren’t spreading it over areas which you have applied a herbicide. As one is made for growing and the other for killing, they’ll sort of counteract each other. You can either choose one over the other, depending on your lawns needs, or you can apply them to focused areas, e.g. focusing the herbicide to weeds.
Overseeding is an activity that can often be overlooked by many gardeners. There are many benefits to overseeding – not only will it reduce weeds and moss in your lawn but it will also improve the colour and thickness of your grass. You will have to ensure that the seed you use blends with the existing grass, or simply use the same seed you used previously. This is even more important if you are overseeding bare patches (naturally mixing ornamental seed with hard wearing seed will not be a good idea).
If you are overseeding your entire lawn, something that should be part of your annual lawn maintenance, ensure you have the right tool for the job. This can of course be done by hand, but for sure using a lawn spreader is best way to achieve accurate and uniform distribution. There are many different types to choose from i.e. drop, rotary, hand held or spreader packs. Drop spreaders are the most popular and widely used tool.
If you would like to learn more about the overseeding process, benefits tips and best selling tools for the job read my article best tips for overseeding your lawn.
Lawn aeration is punching holes into to soil to relieve compaction, improve drainage and allows for more air and nutrients to get deep into the grass roots, all of which make for better growing conditions. Although this may sound like it is causing damage to your grass, it is actually highly beneficial. It encourages the roots to grow deeper, providing stronger, healthier lawn with higher density.
You can either aerate manually with a garden fork, aeration shoes or with a powered aeration machine. The last method is of course the easiest and fastest in terms of physical effort.
Aeration should be done when the soil is moist – not too wet or not too dry, and ideally just before you plan to fertilise and top-dress your lawn. Aeration is an important part of your regular lawn maintenance schedule and should be done whenever you notice an issue with your lawn i.e. lawn being water-logged, showing signs of compaction.
If you have a lot of clay in your soil, I would recommend that you aerate during spring.
There are different types of tines that can be used to aerate your lawn (spike/solid tines, chisel /slit tines, hollow tines).
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For most lawns you should use either chisel or solid tines, they will be able to treat the majority of lawn problems without being too invasive. Although if the problem appears to be very bad, to the point where these tines seem useless, then you can use hollow tine aerators. They remove plugs of soil from the lawn usually about 5cm to 7cm long. The holes will stay open for longer period of time to allow air, nutrients and fertiliser to reach the roots. This is the most invasive method of aeration and therefore should not be used on a regular basis.
Scarify / Rake
The main purpose of scarifying lawns is to remove excess thatch, weeds and moss. It opens up the soils allowing air, water and fertiliser to penetrate the roots making the lawn healthy and strong.
You will need to choose the right season and weather conditions to scarify. Ideally the grass needs to be moist – not too dry or not too wet; same as with aeration.
In spring you should consider lighter raking or scarification and later in the year around autumn you should carry out a deeper scarification.
Top-dressing is a method of adding a fine layer of specific material (i.e. soil, sand) to the lawn surface.
There are many benefits for example improves drainage, helps to prevent thatch, improves the quality and fertility of the lawn, helps with overseeding.
Top-dressing can really be done at any point during the growing season, but it is a good idea to top-dress after the aeration or scarification process as it helps to improve drainage and promotes healthier grass growth.
In terms of how much top-dressing is needed, you will need 1 cubic metre for every 100 metre squared of lawn to achieve 1 cm depth. If you want to top-dress deeper then you will need to purchase more top-dressing material.
Top-dressing is also useful for lawns which are uneven, but of course you will need to purchase more top-dressing material. If you would like to learn more about how to top dress your lawn, the benefits and best tools available you can read my detailed article.
Dealing with Moss
In most cases you’ll have follow a lawn moss removal guide and scarify/rake any area of moss, but before you do so make sure you apply a weed killer, this kills and removes more of the moss. Afterwards it’ll turn into a black/brown colour, at which point you should scarify it. You can either use a spring tine rake by vigorously pulling it through the grass or you can use an electric or petrol scarifier – of course they are much easier and quicker to use.
There are many reasons why you have moss in your lawn, normally it is a good indication of a bigger issue i.e. cutting your grass too short, mowing infrequently, poor lawn maintenance including not aerating and scarifying, not using fertilisers, leaving leaves to sit on your lawn etc.
To prevent moss appearing in your lawn you need to follow a good and regular lawn maintenance schedule. If your lawn is healthy, strong and in good condition lawn diseases and moss will be kept to a minimum or not appear at all. If you would like to learn more about Cordless or Best Electric Leaf Blowers and Vacuums to help you with keeping your lawn tidy and healthy, click on my Buyers Guide.
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Dealing with Weeds
The best way to prevent weeds appearing in your garden is by having a good lawn maintenance regime, a vigorous, dense and healthy growing lawn will outcompete the growing weeds. This is done by regularly feeding the lawn with quality fertiliser, regular mowing with a sharp blade (should be checked monthly at least), scarifying, aerating and overseeding all thinner patches when necessary.
Although if you decide to remove the weeds manually by cutting them out and removing the roots, then remember to fill the bare area with seeds. Otherwise the weeds could return and begin growing again.
But if you want to take care of weeds quickly, then I recommend applying a liquid weed killer. These products contain special ingredients that when applied according to instructions, won’t cause damage to your lawn. Instead it’ll control most broad-leaved weeds.
You can choose between chemical and non-chemical weed killer or steel claw weeder, either way if you want to learn more about keeping control of weeds in your lawn you can read my article.
Dealing with Dead Spots/Bare Patches
Dealing with bare patches is important to prevent weeds and moss appearing. To do so correctly follow the process below:
- Remove all dead grass using a garden rake
- Break up the soil with a garden trowel
- Add around 1cm of compost to the patch and work it into the soil, it has to be level
- Add grass seeds evenly across the bare patch, consider how much shade/sun exposure your lawn is getting before choosing which types you use
- Now with a hard-tooth rake work the seed into the soil at about 1cm deep
- To prevent the soil from dying out, you can sprinkle some grass clippings over the patch
- Make sure you keep this area moist, so lightly water it once a day until the seeds germinate and the new grass grows to about 2cm tall
In this article I have covered how to look after your lawn in spring to get it prepared, but of course do not forget that your hedges may need to be pruned, your patio and decking may need to be pressure washed and your soil may need some help from a tiller or cultivator/rotavator to be ready for replanting.
Best of luck with your summer preparation, I hope these tips make all the difference for the upcoming season.