A guide on keeping your lawn in top condition through the year
Good news, there is nothing to do apart from avoiding walking on it when frozen or soggy if you can. Even if the weather is good, resist any urges to get working.
With luck the weather should improve and the grass start growing. Set the mower so that it only cuts a sliver off the top. You really don’t want to give it a crew cut, just a trim. You probably only need to mow once in the north, twice in the south of the country.
A light rake over is beneficial but be gentle, you just want to remove surface debris. Too much disturbance such as a vigorous scarify will damage the grass.
Spreading calcified seaweed at a rate of 100 grams per square metre will help the microbial activity within the soil – a sort of general tonic.
Keep the blades high on the lawnmower, increase the frequency if necessary. Spike the lawn to loosen any winter compaction. If there is a lot of moss, use a traditional lawn sand with sulphate of iron to knock it back. Otherwise use a spring fertiliser mixture.
Very similar to April. If you didn’t get chance to apply spring fertiliser in April it can be done in May. Keep the mower set high, on a good lawn 4 cm is ideal but increase frequency if it starts to grow quickly.
From now on watch out for dry spells and water if needed and allowed by your water supplier. It’s better to give a good soaking once a week than a light sprinkle every day. Water late evening or even at night to avoid evaporation. The worst time to water is in strong sunlight.
June, July and August
The summer months are when we need to feed most so apply the spring lawn fertiliser at the beginning of the month but increase the sand to 25 parts, thereby reducing its strength a little. You could just apply less but it is actually easier to increase the sand and keep the distribution you are used to.
In a dry period fertilise when there is rain predicted or you are able to water. If you can’t water then don’t use the sand and fertiliser mix. Instead use a liquid feed, either proprietary or make your own as described.
Drop the blade height in stages towards as low as you want. If you have children playing on the lawn a lot then don’t go to the lowest notch, leaving the grass a little longer will give it more chance to recover from their games.
If we hit a dry spell and you can’t water due to restrictions then let the grass grow longer. Raise the blades and just trim off the top. Don’t leave the collection box on, the clippings will settle between the blades and help hold the moisture in.
If you can, it’s worth using grey water on the lawn from the bath and shower. Try and use minimal amounts of shampoos and gels. Ordinary soap won’t be any problem.
As we move into autumn stop feeding, let the grass use up any excess nitrogen from our feeding through the summer. Begin by scarifying to remove any thatch built up during the summer. Then spike the soil to relieve any compaction.
Ideally you should add a top dressing. These used to incorporate peat which is becoming hard to find but well aged leafmould, especially if run through a shredder will replace it.
You can purchase fine topsoil, either in 20Kg bags or in large one ton bags. Alternatively, make your own loam by stacking some lawn turf grass side down, covered with a tarpaulin for a year. Then crumble it finely (some shredders can cope with this) and run through a riddle (large garden sieve) to get out any stones.
Finally buy some washed fine sand from the builders merchant. Mix 2 buckets of leafmould with 4 buckets of sieved loam or topsoil and add sand as follows:
- On heavy soils 4 buckets
- On loamy soils 2 buckets
- On sandy soils 1 bucket
Mix well and apply to the lawn so as to add about 1.5 cm depth. Use the flat back of a standard rake to spread it or a stiff brush. Pay attention to any dips or hollows the lawn has developed and use the top dressing to fill in. It’s a lot of work but if you can spare the time worth it. Even if you can only do it every two or three years, it’s a good idea.
As we reach the end of the season we can give the lawn one more feed but this time without any nitrogen unless the grass is looking a little yellow in which case add 3 parts by weight of sulphate of ammonia to the autumn feed mix.
Increase the blade height back to 4 cm and mow as required
Keep the lawn clear of autumn leaves which are best turned into leafmould.
November and December
A lot depends on the weather now. In normal years the only thing you should need to do is keep the lawn clear of falling leaves but with the warm winters we’ve had on occasion you may need to give the lawn a cut.
If the lawn is suffering a lot of moss then it’s worth running a pH test to determine how acid it is. Ideal pH is around 5.5
If, like us, you have pets running over the lawn then water well after application or use prilled lime and brush that in. Prilled lime is designed for machine application and the lime is in tiny balls which don’t clog the machine like powder.
If needed, repeat each year until the pH is up to 5.5.
Lawn Care Guides
- Artificial Grass Can be the Answer
- Renovating a Lawn Restoring an Old or Damaged Lawn
- Monthly Lawn Care Guide, Through the Year Lawn Guide
- Lawn Sand & Feed Mixes, Top Dressing, Moss Killer Recipe
- Removing & Controlling Lawn Moss Improve Your Lawn
- How to Lay Turf – Laying new turf to replace a lawn