Maintaining a Healthy Lawn

The lawn is often the centrepiece of our garden. It is the cornerstone around which everything else is meticulously grown and positioned. But when was the last time you paid your grass any attention? I'm not just talking about a quick trim on a Sunday afternoon, I'm talking about the due diligence and care it deserves. After all, the lawn, like any other beautiful plant in our gardens, should be cherished and loved. This article, from Fraser C. Robb, is a guide to maintaining your lawn.

Watering

Watering the lawn is often a distant afterthought. This is because, in the United Kingdom, watering by hand is often unnecessary, with rain doing most of the heavy lifting.

As long as your grass is watered at least once every ten days then it will continue to thrive.

When watering your lawn by hand, take into consideration the type of soil upon which the grass grows. Clay and peat soils retain moisture - sometimes too well, with the risk of becoming boggy (people often forget that too much water can be just as condemning as not enough) - while sand based soils retain almost no moisture.

It is important to remember that dried out grass is not doomed. It can recover with the introduction of moisture, as long as no damage has been caused to the roots.

Mowing

Mowing the lawn is vital to its maintenance. Aim for once per fortnight in the spring and then once per week during the summer. With each cut, the grass will grow thicker and fuller.

Why is cutting the grass so important? Firstly, it keeps the length manageable and neat. Secondly, it reduces root stress and therefore the susceptibility to some diseases. Thirdly, mowing the lawn can help to remove weeds. Try raking small weeds, such as buttercups and daises, prior to cutting the grass. This will assist the mower in pulling them right out. Gently rake the grass following a mowing-session to remove any leftover dead grass.

Looking to finalise that pristine cut? Trim any missed edges, or difficult areas, with a strimmer or shears. You could even consider shaping the lawn border.

Weeding

Weeding amongst the lawn can be difficult, and many deem it unnecessary, but it is worthwhile to achieve that luscious green.

Simple weeds - like those mentioned above - can be removed easily with a lawnmower, but there are some tougher ones which require extra effort.

Large weeds, including dandelions, should always be removed from the root. There are tools which can do this while causing minimal damage to the grass itself (including the Wolf-Garten Garden Weeder). Sometimes it might be necessary to spray these weeds with a weed-killer - it is best to do this in May or September. Remember to always follow instructions on chemical packaging, and keep away from animals and children.

Moss is an irritating lawn weed, especially prevalent in poorly drained lawns, which can be removed with ease. Purchase or hire a scarifier to glide across the lawn and pull up moss, along with other weeds and patches of dead grass. Spring or late autumn are the best times to scarify the lawn.

Clover is a weed which will grow in particularly dry grass so be wary concerning moisture levels.

Diseases

Here are a few different lawn diseases to be mindful of.

Snow Mould is a disease caused by the accumulation of snow on grass. The heavy layer of white suffocates the lawn, creating dark and damp conditions ideal for fungus and mould to spread in. Once the snow melts, patches of infected grass will appear brown and rotting - usually they seem worse in Spring, when the grass has not been cut in a while. As with any disease, act fast! Clearing snow mould is simple so long as the roots are not infected. Simply raking the grass can unearth any potentially threatening fungi - collect this carefully and dispose of accordingly.

Fairy Rings is a fungal disease which thrives in wet conditions, especially on weak grass. Keeping your lawn well fed and healthy will reduce the likelihood of it rotting away to this, and many other, infections. If you catch fairy rings in their early stages - rings of weak-looking, browning grass - then simply brush it away. If the disease is allowed to continue unmonitored it will eventually kill an area of grass.

Red Thread is easy to identify and simple to prevent. The blades will become red or pinkish in colour, and the grass will begin to decay. Since this disease thrives in low-fertility, the best prevention method is keeping your lawn well-fertilised.

Finally, be on the lookout for other grass-dwelling pests which might destroy your beautiful lawn.

Feeding

Feeding the lawn is crucial to its growth. The information that follows should only be treated as very general guidelines; always follow the instructions provided with your fertiliser.

Different fertilisers should be used at different times of the year.

In autumn, you want to provide the grass with nutrients to last it through the winter (though not so much vigour that it encourages cold and pest damage). Fertilisers containing potassium are ideal for strengthening the grass during winter and making it more cold-resistant. Use this kind of fertiliser from September onwards.

When spring arrives, you want the grass to grow. Therefore, you should look to a fertiliser with a high nitrogen content. It is best to apply this during early to mid-spring, as well as often during the same (again, check with manufacturing guidelines).

Do be careful not to fertilise grass which is still growing or has fungal current fungal issues. Once you have fertilised, water the grass and allow the nutrients to flow down into the roots - this is especially important for autumn fertilisers.

Anti-Trampling

'Keep Off The Grass'.

Not really; the grass is there to be enjoyed! Just be careful because continuous trampling can cause damage to your lawn.

If the grass is wet, then walking on it can create a muddy mess. If it is frosty, then each footstep will literally snap the blades of grass and kill them.

There are types of anti-trample grass. One to try is RTF (Rhizomatous Tall Fescue) although others are available.

New Growth

Sometimes planting new grass is the only way to reverse damage. Alternatively, re-sowing your lawn might provide it with the vigour and lush quality you have been seeking.

It is best to sow grass seeds in early Autumn (August time) or Spring (Early May). To begin, gently break up the soil surface and sow the seeds. Then lightly rake the newly planted area and protect it from birds - they will LOVE your new seedlings. With some water applied every day, these should sprout within ten days (though might take up to five months to grow fully).

Turf is also available.

About Us

We sell and service all types of Agricultural and Horticultural Machinery, from lawnmowers for small gardens to tractors. We are approved dealers for many brands including Yamaha, Viking, Stihl, Scag, McCormick, Lawnflite, Kawasaki, Jenz, Hayter, TP, Avant, Major and Mountfield.

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Fraser C. Robb
Stirling Road
Drymen
G63 0AA
United Kingdom

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