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A perfectly maintained lawn

How you care for and tend to your lawn depends entirely upon what you are aiming to achieve.

If you are are looking to encourage wildflowers for pollinating insects, spring is the time to stop mowing, put your feet up and simply relax.

However if you want a well-trimmed, thriving, lush green lawn, there are a number of things you can do throughout the spring and summer months to get it into a good shape.

 

 

Looking after different types of lawn

Although the obsession for grass clipped as neatly as Wimbledon’s Centre Court may have dwindled, the British love affair with the garden lawn continues.

Lush, neatly trimmed lawns possess obvious appeal as an essential element in landscape design – whether offsetting colourful flower borders, providing a place for kids to play, or simply to soften the aesthetic appeal against hard landscaping features such as patios or decking, they are a crucial element of many UK gardens. However, to keep this type of lawn looking at it’s absolute best does require a little time and effort, especially through the spring and summer months.

Naturally, many people prefer a more laid-back, relaxed approach, allowing wildflowers to grow and flourish. If that is the case, you can simply take a break from mowing in late spring, sit back and take joy in the wildflowers as they appear and the pollinating insects and other biodiversity they will attract to your garden. Spring is also a great time of year to create a new wildflower meadow by scattering wildflower seed to boost the diversity of an existing lawn.

Even regularly mown lawns provide a habitat for a host of invertebrates and critical soil-life, especially when the grass is thriving and lush. So, it is important to take care of your garden lawn, whatever style you have, to maintain that it is in great condition.

Wildflowers growing through an uncut lawn

 

Key tasks for caring for your lawn

As the weather begins to warm up in spring and the and the grass starts to come back into growth, this is the best time to give your lawn extra care and attention and prepare it for the summer.

Regular maintenance is obviously the best way to maintain a traditional lawn looking neat, healthy and thriving; this will also help avoid the need for larger-scale renovation in the future if it runs into disrepair. Below are a few tips on tasks you can carry out through the early part of the year to achieve the perfect lawn.

 

Patch up problem areas

Patch up with Grass seed

If the lawn has bare patches or areas are looking a little sparse, spring is a great to restore it by sowing grass seed or returfing to affected areas to bring it back to full strength by summer.

Grass seed is quick and easy to sow, a relatively cheap option and you can select a seed type to suit your growing conditions and which is preferable for how the lawn is going to used or how your want it to look. However, sowing seed will take several months to get fully established.

For a more immediate impact and instant fix, you can patch damaged areas with some healthy new turf. To do this, cut out the damaged area of lawn in a square using a spade and lift to a depth of approximately 5cm. Lightly fork over the soil of the dug area and blend in some topsoil, then firm lightly with your feet to create a level surface. Cut the new rolls of turf to the size of the required area, placing the healthy piece of turf into the prepared square and firm down, making sure the turf is at the same level as the original surrounding lawn. Compress the edges of the new turf with the back of a garden rake and brush in a sandy lawn top dressing into any gaps around the edges if required. Finally, water in thoroughly.

 

Feed hungry lawns

In the main, the majority of lawns will grow perfectly well without being fed, providing an area to enjoy throughout most of the year. Traditionally, spring and early summer has been the time of year when fertiliser is applied to lawns to help improve their vigour and also deter weeds and moss from establishing.

Although not absolutely essential, feeding your lawn with a nitrogen fertiliser every 4-6 weeks will give the lawn a boost, especially if your desire a dense, lush, all-grass lawn. Remember to take care to select a specific spring / summer lawn fertiliser and apply it at the rate recommended on the instructions from mid-spring, whilst the lawn is actively growing and green. When applying fertiliser, spread it evenly across the lawn, the best conditions to do so are when it is a cooler time of the day, ideally when rain is expected or alternatively water in well.

 

Mowing the lawn

Mow the lawn

When the grass begins to grow in spring, this is the time to begin regular mowing – this will help the lawn to keep growing strongly and will deter weeds from establishing and growing.

Do not cut the lawn too close, unless you have a speciality grass seed mixture which tolerates close cutting, such as might be grown on golf greens. Cutting the lawn too close results in some grass varieties dying out, leaving bare patches which can be populated by weeds as a result of wind-blow weed seeds, such as dandelion.

Endeavour to maintain a cut height of no less than 50mm. In May and June grass grows at its fastest; cutting during these months should be done twice weekly.

 

 

Edging the borders

Get a cutting edge

The ideal time to edge the lawn is in the spring. Creating clean edges using a flat-bladed spade or a half-moon edging iron to cut a 7.5cm ‘gutter’ around the lawn, not only does this give a clear definition between the lawn and flower borders, but also helps to prevent grass from creeping into the beds.

Another crucial benefit of a well defined lawn edge, with a decent drop down to the flower border, is that it will help keep mulching material (such as bark) in place and not spill over onto the grass.

Throughout the spring and summer, keep the lawn looking neat and tidy by using long-handled edging shears after mowing to trim any long, overhanging grass that the mower doesn’t catch.

 

 

Dandelions in the grass

Weed out unwelcome Intruders

If your aim is to have a traditional pristine lawn, then certain plants may entirely unwelcome amongst your grass and some more dominant and fast-spreading species can easily get out of hand if left unchecked.

To remove undesired plants from your lawn, always try hand weeding to begin with, be persistent, removing all roots and in time this should bring improvements. As a last resort, there are selective lawn weedkillers available which you can consider.

Moss can also become a problem within the lawn and thrives thrives when conditions are damp and poor drainage persists. If you want to reduce or get rid of moss, following the mowing and feeding tips in this guide will help.

 

Watering lawns

Rainfall in the UK throughout autumn to spring is generally sufficient to keep lawns lush, green and healthy.

However, lawns can start to look parched in summer when rainfall is usually lower and and in periods of drought the grass may turn brown and even die back. Typically, once rainfall returns established lawns will soon recover, so watering is generally not always necessary, except in the most extreme of circumstances in the UK.

On the other hand, new lawns need watering regularly, especially if rain is in short supply, at least until it is well established. But, be careful not to over water, this could potentially lead to shallow rooting and poor establishment. Watering a new lawn every 7 to 10 days will ordinarily suffice and potentially less if the weather is damp. Ensure the water reaches a depth of approximately 10cm after each watering.

 

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