A beautiful lawn makes any garden look fantastic, but it doesn't happen without a bit of effort. Here are some essential tools for your garden maintenance program.
Unless you keep sheep, probably the most obvious action would be to invest in a good lawn mower. There are loads to choose from with varying properties. If you have a large lawn a petrol mower would most likely be the best choice, medium and small lawns can usually be covered by an electric mower or if you prefer a bit of a workout then a push along mower will certainly help you burn the calories!
If you want stripes then make sure you choose one with a roller, remember, cutting the lawn too short makes stripes hard to see - along with encouraging weeds and moss! Mulching mowers cut the grass into small pieces which can be left on the lawn and decomposes feeding your grass. Other mowers should have a collection box as they won't cut the pieces fine enough to be left on the lawn, so unless you want to rake over the lawn after mowing, it's best to use a collection box!
Watering your lawn during dry spells is vital to keeping your lawn lush, green, healthy and it will also help strengthen the roots so winter damage is less likely. It is common practice to pop out into the garden and give your lawn a quick watering every day, however, this will just mean that the water will only penetrate the top few centimeters of soil. If only the top of the soil gets wet, the roots of the grass will head towards the water and end up growing near the surface. This means they will dry out quicker and be more susceptible to damage.
A good soaking once or twice a week during dry spells is far better for your grass and will encourage deep, strong rooting.
It's all very well having a nicely mown, striped lawn, but without neat edges it simply doesn't look the part. Make sure you keep your edging shears nice and sharp to avoid tearing the grass which causes brown edges. Hold the edgers upright when you cut to avoid cutting into the soil and having slanted edges, although it would take a while, your lawn would get gradually smaller each time you edge.
Sometimes called a 'half moon' due to its shape, this tool is vital for freshening up your edges, and also creating new shapes or borders to your lawn. Used vertically, slice down just into the edge of an existing border to make the edge flat and sharp again. For new borders this tool is great for slicing into the turf, simply use the edging iron to cut your new border, then remove any unwanted grass with a fork.
Probably one of the cheapest tools in lawn care, but still very essential! Over the year you will get a build up of dead weeds, moss and grass (thatch), this can block light, moisture and provide a growing base for more pesky lawn weeds and suffocating mossy patches. Rake over your lawn every couple of months, but don't rake in very cold or frosty conditions as this will damage the blades of grass. Make sure you pick up anything raked up, why not leave a small pile of the thatch for the birds to line their nests with? If you have a large lawn then you can buy powered lawn rakers, but it's still handy to have a manual rake for tidying up.
This is a machine that slices through the lawn, removing the build up of thatch. It will also add air to the top soil (aerating) helping to rejuvenate an old tired lawn. Scarify once a year, or once every two years for fine lawns. As with most lawn maintenance, this is best done in late spring or autumn.
Last but not least, a lawn spreader. Not necessarily essential, but definitely very useful. All lawns will benefit from a feed and the easiest way is to pop some in a spreader and off you go! Most have adjustable settings so you can apply a range of products including lawn sand, grass seed and triple action products containing a lawn feed, weed killer and moss killer. You can apply these products by hand, but a spreader will give you a more accurate and even application alongside avoiding overdosing, which can damage your grass, and patchy results.
Usually a plastic, somewhat flexible, rake. This is important for when you remove any dead leaves that fall on your lawn in the autumn. Not only do leaves block light from the grass, they can also start to decompose and be a haven for diseases and fungus to grow. Unlike the metal spring lawn rakes, these plastic ones don't tend to 'spike' the leaves and won't clog so easily, plus they are kinder to your grass as you are likely to be raking on a regular basis to lift the leaves.