Winter, where did you go?

By | 16/03/2014
Daffodils in grass

In the North West of England the spring is just gradually trying to through through. It is the middle of March (2014) and we are currently in the midst of a wonderful early spring season. The daffodils are flourishing, the sun is shining and all of our gardens are coming to life again.

The problem is that we haven’t had a winter yet!

With some parts of the UK experiencing the wettest winter weather on record, temperatures in Manchester have barely dipped below 8 degrees Celsius. We had less than half-a-dozen light frosts since November and I can’t remember slipping on ice even once during my entire winter treatment program.

Mild winter, good or bad?

A mild winter is both a good and bad thing for our gardens. Garden birds and other small animals will have done well, as they have been able to find water and food throughout the winter, keeping populations high. Insects will also have done well, however this includes many pests and grubs such as slugs and leatherjackets which feast on our garden plants in the spring.

Fungi and mosses have also had a bumper winter, with the damp weather proving to be ideal conditions for them to spread into areas of weak grass.

Worms have had a difficult winter though. Even though they can survive in saturated soil for quite a long time, they will migrate to higher ground if wet conditions continue, literally leaving the soil to go stale. Some areas which have seen standing water for some time will not see the worms return for many months.

How do I rejuvenate my lawn this spring?

As I have said on many occasions, the grass in our lawns is an extremely hardy plant, being able to tolerate a variety of adverse weather without any significant problems. However, there are some things you can do to your lawn to speed up a spring recovery this spring, helping it to look lovely and green this summer.

  1. Apply an aeration treatmentDuring wet weather, oxygen and other gases are expelled from the soil, compacting it. This environment makes it difficult for the grass roots to penetrate the soil, weakening the lawn. Aerating the soil helps to open up the soil, relieving compaction and enabling gasses to be exchanged in the root zone. It is a fantastic treatment to apply to your lawn after a wet winter.
  2. Apply a seaweed bio stimulant treatment. Soil which is drenched for a long period of time looses a great deal of bacteria and other micro-organisms due to the loss of available oxygen. This a concentrated seaweed treatment which acts as food for these essential bacteria, keeping the soil alive.
  3. Apply a high quality spring fertiliser. The fertiliser which I am applying this year is high in nitrogen to promote leaf growth and also high in potassium, which is the essential element most likely washed through the soil

Be sure to only apply these treatments when your lawn has dried out sufficiently (no squelching or water visible on the surface), as you can do more damage by treating a wet lawn.

Kris Lord

Main image credit: CC Image by Andrew Wilkinson on Flickr

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