You might not know it, but your lawn pays you back for all the hard work you put into it – your lawn serves as a huge source of air conditioning for your garden, keeping it cool in the hot summer months.
It also releases oxygen and simultaneously captures dust, keeping you and your family healthy. To reap the benefits to the full, keep your lawn as healthy as possible with these handy tips.
Longer grass is healthier grass – by keeping your grass 7.5-10cm (3-4in) tall, you may reduce the number of weeds that germinate, as longer, stronger grass will out-compete the weed seedlings. Keep the soil nice and cool, ensuring moisture is trapped and soil microbes are encouraged. These convert nutrients from the soil. It also promotes deeper root growth which helps fight against drought.
Check the cutting height of your mower. Never scalp a lawn too short. This will weaken the grass and leave the soil open to lawn moss invasion. If your lawn begins to suffer from lawn moss do not try to rake out the moss before it has been killed by a moss killer. This will only spread the spores and make matters worse. Apply a moss kill in spring or Autumn then rake out the moss two to three weeks after application, when it has dried and turned black.
However, varying the length slightly throughout the seasons can help maximise the health of your lawn. It is recommended that at the beginning of the year to cut the grass with the blade height approximately 2.5-4cm (1-1.5in) – this allows for the dead grass to be removed and for sunlight to reach the root more easily. In the summer months raise the blade height to 5cm (2in) or more. Then again, lower it back for the last cuttings of the year.
Make sure you use a sharp blade
To ensure you cut your lawn cleanly and evenly, make sure you use a sharp and balanced blade. A blunt blade will have the damaging effect of tearing the grass rather than cleanly cutting it, meaning the ends of the grass blades may turn yellow but will grow out leaving no lasting effect. To maintain a sharp blade, avoid mowing over any stones as much as possible, making sure to sharpen and balance your blade three times a year. We found this great guide on how to sharpen your lawnmower blade.
Don’t overwater during dry spells
Even though brown blades suggest otherwise – the root of the grass can actually stay alive for months. Understandably, if you want to ensure a green lawn all summer, try to water heavily, on an infrequent basis. The aim is to encourage the roots to grow deep into the ground, and the best way to achieve this is to water deep. If the soil is hard below the roots then they are restricted, while the moisture further down will work its way up to dryer soil at the top.
Light sprinklings of water only feed the surface of the soil and the grass, which in turn promotes shallow root growth. In this instance, the lawn will require more frequent watering.
Lawns that are on light sandy soil will drain more quickly, so may need more water than lawns growing on heavier clay soils. However, as a general rule, provide 2.5-5cm (1-2in) of water per week (whether this is via a watering can, sprinklers, or Mother Nature, applied at three-four day intervals. However, this does vary depending on the following factors: temperature, grass type, and soil condition. In terms of timing, first thing in the morning is the best time to water your lawn.
Weedkillers and fertilisers: timing is everything
There are a number of variables to take into account when applying gardening products to your lawn. These are mainly location, weed type, grass type, condition of the soil, and grass type. If you need to know more check our guides for identifying weeds and using weedkillers.
Firstly, a healthy lawn is the best defence against garden weeds. So, you’re halfway there if you’ve followed our guidelines so far! Next, it is advised to attack weeds in the early spring or summer – this way the weeds have yet had the chance to develop deep root systems or spread.
When applying fertiliser, do so in early spring to encourage root growth. Apply a specific Autumn lawn fertiliser in the autumn months to help the lawn recover from the Summer wear, and prepare itself for a potentially harsh winter. While light feedings throughout the year help maintain a healthy growing lawn. Furthermore, as always, read the labels fully and take note of requirements and warnings.
Remember, it’s not necessarily how hard you work – actually, it’s less about time than timing. The art is more 'how' and 'when' to achieve a perfect lawn.