The winter of 2012/2013 has been a difficult time for the humble British lawn. The almost constant damp conditions in the sward of the grass have encouraged widespread fungal infections within the grass and the wet soil has leached out many of the valuable nutrients which the grass depends on to keep its immune system topped up. These factors, combined with the cold temperature and low light levels have meant that many lawns at the moment are looking in a very sorry state!
However, all is not lost and, as spring is just around the corner, now is the time to start planning your spring lawn regeneration to bring it back to life and looking fantastic this summer. So if your are planning an open day or are just want to improve your garden here is my step-by-step guide to revitalising your lawn this season.
Bring your lawn back to life this spring
- Apply a moss control: Not a combined weed, feed and moss, but just a moss control. Ideally, you want to be able to control the moss and clean up your lawn before you apply a spring feed, so a combined product is not ideal as you will pull out the valuable feed and have to re-treat, wasting your money. The moss control should be applied before the spring starts in earnest, ideally, early March.
- Wait for at least 2 weeks! This allows the product to thoroughly control the moss, enabling it to be more easily removed. It also discourages it from spreading its spores around your garden while you clean up the lawn.
- Cut your lawn nice and short* I only advise cutting your lawn short on a very few occasions, and all of these precede further remedial work. This year there are so many weak, diseased untidy looking blades of grass that it is best to just cut them out and to give the plant space to regenerate new growth from the crowns. I don’t recommend composting this years first cuttings, as they will contain very little usable nutrients and will harbour fungal spores which is less than ideal for a good quality compost.
- Examine your lawn: Now that the grass has been tidied up and the winter debris has been cleared away it is a good time to get down on your knees and have a good look at true surface of the lawn. You are looking for two things: Thatch levels and compaction. To check the level of thatch, drive a hole into the lawn with a large screwdriver, put your finger into it and try to find the actual surface of the soil underneath the grass. If you have to go down more than one centimetre into the hole, then I would recommend lightly scarifying your lawn, to clean out this thatch layer allowing it to breathe. To check compaction, assess how hard it was to drive in the screwdriver, if it goes in nice and easily then you don’t have a problem, but if you need to put any significant pressure on it, then hollow-tine aerating would be very beneficial for your lawn at this stage.
- Remedial work: You should then either scarify or aerate your lawn if necessary Aerating is beneficial for all lawns, however scarifying should only be done in the spring if it is necessary, as more harm than good can be done if care is not taken. If you need to both scarify and aerate, then scarify first, then aerate.
- Apply a spring treatment: Now, once the lawn has been cleaned and any other soil issues have been remedied you should now apply a spring treatment consisting of a balanced fertiliser which has a high percentage of nitrogen to promote strong leaf growth so that the plant can take advantage of the lengthening days. I am also making sure my fertiliser has a good percentage of Potassium this year. The heavy rains will have leached a lot of this valuable nutrient out of the soil, so it is needed to toughen up the grass plants.
After this you should then keep your lawn watered (especially if it doesn’t rain) and try to keep traffic to a minimum until it has a normal, even amount of growth. Allowing it to become a little longer before cutting will help it to thicken more quickly.
Mow your lawn properly
Finally, you should give your mower a last once over, and make sure the blades are nice and sharp, as mowing with blunt blades will drastically affect the look of your lawn over the coming months.
Following this spring lawn care regime will bring you a fantastic lawn this summer!
The Lawn Man