Guide written by:
John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge
Looking to grow a luscious green lawn without any bald spots? The secret to a thick and hardy lawn can be summed up in one word: maintenance. But mowing and watering aren't the only ways to get a healthy lawn. Read on for our top tips on growing a green lawn.
- Lawn rollers
- Routine care
- Yearly care
Use a lawn roller to stimulate growth
Lawn rollers are generally used at the end of winter to correct frost heave. However, you can roll your lawn about once a month after mowing if you like. Remember to alternate directions each time you roll!
If your lawn is in need of reseeding, a lawn roller can help the grass seeds come into contact with the soil to encourage germination.
Scarify to eliminate thatch
Over time, lawn waste such as dried up roots can form a thick layer of material in your lawn. This layer may eventually prevent air and nutrients from penetrating the grass properly. Scarifying can help the grass roots to better absorb nutrients. It is a good idea to scarify your lawn in the springtime or autumn while the grass is still growing. This way, you can also eliminate moss.
- You can start scarifying a lawn in the third or fourth year after seeding.
- Once you're done, gather all the waste from your lawn using a lawn rake and add it to your compost pile (unless it contains moss in which case you must dispose of the waste elsewhere).
- After three to four weeks, the marks left by the scarifier should disappear completely and you will be able to mow your lawn again.
Aerate the soil to stimulate root growth
Over time, watering and mowing will compact your soil especially if your lawn has been in place for a while or has to deal with heavy footfall. In turn, this makes it harder for air to penetrate down to the roots. Using a lawn aerator in the springtime will help to inject air and water into the soil and down to the roots. You may have to repeat the process in the autumn if your lawn is particularly compacted:
- Cut your grass as short as possible;
- Use a lawn aerator over areas that are subject to heavy footfall.
A lawn aerator is equipped with a spikedroller designed to leave holes in the soil. If you're up to the challenge, you can even use a garden fork to dig in holes; in this case, space your holes around 15 cm apart. If you have a smaller lawn, you can tackle it using aerator shoes.
Water your lawn regularly
To keep your lawn looking fresh and green, it should be watered on a sprinkler setting about two times a week between the months of June and September – except, of course, if you have a good amount of rain. If you don't have a lot of rainfall, it's a good idea to start watering earlier in the spring or to keep watering later into the year.
Water should be sprayed evenly over the lawn. Try to add around 5 to 10 mm of water each time you water in the summertime; you can monitor this with the use of a rain gauge.
Spread fertiliser to feed your lawn
Between the months of March and September spread a special lawn fertiliser over your grass in three separate applications. This nitrogen-rich fertiliser should turn your grass a beautiful green colour. Spread it as evenly as possible in order to achieve a uniform colour across the lawn. You can spread the fertiliser manually in two passes or in a single pass using a spreader (as this allows you to apply a more even dose). Either way, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Top dress your lawn to enrich the root system
In May or October, rake the grass to get rid of any waste before top dressing your lawn. This involves spreading a thin layer of very dry compost over the top of your lawn and helps to enrich the soil with nutrients. It'll also provide a food source for earthworms which play an important role in injecting air into the soil. In turn, this should help to anchor the roots in the soil and boost growth.
Mow regularly to enhance lawn colour
Regular mowing prevents weed growth and keeps your lawn in good health. Don't cut your lawn too short at the start of the growing season. Adjust your mower settings to a height of around 5 cm. You can then gradually cut shorter and shorter until you reach about 2 to 3 cm in height. Mow around twice a week in the summertime and never wait until your grass is overgrown to mow – long grass tends to fall over and yellow at the roots.
It is recommended to avoid cutting more than a third of the height of the grass at any one time. If you only cut 1 to 2 cm of grass when you mow, you won't have to collect the clippings afterwards. Ideally, you should use a mower equipped with a mulching mode or set up a robot lawnmower if the size of your garden allows. Let your grass grow about 1 to 2 cm higher than usual during particularly warm periods.
Remove moss to keep your lawn healthy
It is fairly common practice to use iron sulphate to kill off moss. This type of product will effectively cause moss to turn black and eventually die off. However, iron sulphate will also increase the acidity of your soil which creates the ideal conditions for moss to return.
With this in mind, a better option might be to aerate the soil using a tool like a scarifier. If your soil is a little too acidic, tryadding some lime or sprinkling wood ash or a calcium-based soil amendment to your soil.
Eliminate moles to protect your soil and grass roots
Mole hills will quickly turn a luscious lawn into an unsightly collection of dirt piles. These mounds will also make it harder to use your lawnmower while the moles themselves cut through grass roots to burrow tunnels.
So the age-old question for gardeners is this: how can I safely get rid of moles? There is a wide variety of solutions, but some are more effective than others. Choose between repellents, such as ultrasonic or vibrating devices, and humane traps designed to capture the moles and release them elsewhere.
Reseed any bare patches
Rake any bare patches of lawn before sprinkling on some grass seed and covering with a thin layer of fertiliser. You can then roll and water the lawn. Avoid walking over any recently seeded parts of the lawn until the grass is well-established. Let the seeded sections grow taller than the rest of the grass for the first three mows before reducing the height of the grass by 1 cm each time until it matches the rest of your grass.
Weed the lawn
Weeds can quickly take over your lawn and the results will be all sorts of different shapes and colours throughout the grass. These plants also grow at mind-boggling speeds. To stop weeds from spreading, it is essential to get rid of the plants before they go to seed.
Regular mowing will help to get rid of the majority of weeds; while mowing benefits grass it will help to weaken any unwanted plants. Get rid of any weeds with long taproots (such as dandelions and common sorrel) using a weeding knife or gouge.
Tips for protecting your lawn on a daily basis
- Avoid walking on the grass during frost season.
- Try not to overuse any part of the lawn, such as the area around a table or barbecue.
- Don't let your dog dig or scratch the soil.
- Be careful not to contaminate the soil with hydrocarbons (from a brushcutter, for example).
- Never park your car on the lawn except when absolutely necessary.
Lawn maintenance throughout the year
Guide written by:
John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge, 78 guides
When I was young, I was already working in the family garden. Perhaps that is where my interest in plants and gardening came from. So, it was logical for me to study both plant biology and agronomy. At the request of various publishers I have, over twenty-five years, written many books on the subject of plants and mushrooms (a subject that is close to my heart).They were mostly identification guides at first, but shortly after they were about gardening, thus renewing the first passion of my childhood. I have also regularly collaborated with several magazines specializing in the field of gardening or more generally in nature. There is no gardener without a garden, I have cultivated mine in a small corner of Cambridge for the last thirty years and this is where I put into practice the methods of cultivation that will I advise you in as well.