As winter fades and spring approaches it is time to start planning for the season of lawn care. Your grass has a tough time during UK winters. Short days, low light levels and wet soil is far from ideal conditions for grass plants. They are keen to produce new leaves and shake off the winter blues as soon as the weather warms.
This winter (2021/2022) has been a really warm winter in the UK. Especially down here in the South West of England. Grass has kept on growing right through and a lot of lawns are looking great.
Here are my top tips this year for preparing your lawn if it is looking a bit under the weather coming out of winter.
My five top tips for early spring lawn care
1: Tidy the lawn.
Winter wind, rain and snow dislodges old wood and twigs from trees. Debris gets blown out of hedges and settles on your lawn. There may still be pockets of fallen leaves here and there. It is a good idea to tidy this debris from the lawn before the mowing season starts, giving the grass the best chance to grow new leaves.
2: Check the lawn for pests and diseases.
Since the withdrawal of amenity pesticides back in 2015 lawn pests have really become a common problem. Numbers of leatherjackets and chafer grubs in lawns all over the UK have dramatically increased. Leatherjackets are the larvae of crane flies and do their damage in late winter and spring. Chafer grubs tend to do less damage, but often attract larger mammals which can destroy a lawn getting to the grubs. Identifying these pests is key and, once found, try to reduce numbers through a variety of methods.
Fusarium and Red Thread fungal lawn diseases often appear in milder winters. They and can go unnoticed for many weeks and can really damage a lawn before spring. Appropriate controls can be put down in appropriate weather conditions and will really help a lawn get away well once the weather warms.
3: Start Mowing.
Your lawn will look so much better once you start spring mowing. Pick a dry afternoon and set your mower to the highest setting for the first cut. You may need to go over it a couple of times in difference directions to get an even cut.
If your lawn has grown long and you have not cut it all winter then it may be beneficial to give it quite a tight mow. Take off all of the untidy winter growth and cut it right down to the crowns of the grass. This will stimulate fresh new growth right down at the base of the grass plant and bring about a wonderful looking lawn for the summer. Usually, I don’t recommend mowing your lawn short so be sure to raise your blades again straight afterwards. This would be a one-off to prune out all the old leaves. Cutting your lawn short on a regular basis is very bad for your grass.
4: Spring scarification.
Once the lawn has been mown it can be a good idea to give the lawn a light scarification. In early spring, scarification achieves two things. First, it helps pull out thatch and debris from the surface of the lawn. This helps the lawn breathe and enables water and fertiliser to get down to the roots quicker. Second, it cuts sideways and untidy growth in the grass plants. This promotes vertical growth. This will encourage vertical growth of new leaves and help the lawn to thicken. Do not scarify too deep though. A single pass of the scarifier with the blades set so they are only touching the surface is fine. Scarify any deeper and the recovery of the lawn may take many months. It may even need overseeding to recover if it is damaged.
5: Feed the lawn.
As the ground warms the grass will be starting into growth and roots will be searching for nutrients. Help the grass by giving it a good quality spring fertiliser treatment. This will help your plants with nitrogen to build lush green leaves. With all fertilisation treatments, it is better to feed little and often. A slow release fertiliser applied regularly through the growing season will do the grass a lot more good than over feeding in one go.
Follow these steps and your lawn will get off to a great start for the new season.
What about moss or weeds?
If you have experienced a wet, grey winter, moss may be a problem on your lawn. If there is an ingress of moss, make sure you put down a moss control treatment. try to do this before the end of winter as it will reduce the moss and make space for the new grass shoots. The grass will then be able to sprout new leaves and get a head start in the race for space on your lawn.
If your lawn has a lot of perennial weeds then I recommend conducting your spring clean first. The weeds will then grow with vigour and will be easy to control later on in the year. Either pick them out manually or applying a herbicide on a nice dry day in spring. If you have professional lawn care, then these weeds will not be a problem.
If you would like to plan a spring clean for your lawn and live in the Exeter area of Devon, get in touch. I will be happy to conduct a lawn survey to see how I can help. I you live in other areas of the UK, ask me a question.
The Lawn Man