As you might expect, spring is a time of preparation when it comes to lawn care. As the temperature rises and weather conditions become a little less harsh, your lawn will enter a period of active growth. Now is the best time to repair the ravages of winter and lay the groundwork for a dense and green sward throughout the year.
Winter weather and general wear and tear can leave lawns with bare patches, as well as a build-up of layers of debris, dead grass and moss. Spring is the best time to deal with these problems, as well improving the general conditions for maximum vigour in the summer months. With the onset of our warm and wet British summers, moss and weeds will become an increased risk. As well as dealing with any that has accumulated, spring is also the perfect time to take preventative measures to protect against these blights on your lawn.
The most important aspect of spring lawn care, however, is a consistent mowing regime. Keeping the grass even in this period of accelerated growth will – combined with proper feeding – ensure a thick and verdant lawn for summer.
When mowing your lawn in spring, your aim should be to maintain a fairly dense and even covering. Mowing too little is the surest way for a lawn to become patchy and uneven, but cut your grass to short and you allow space for moss to grow and weeds to take root, spoiling the lawn for the months ahead. Cutting your lawn too short can also make it more susceptible to the effects of drought.
What height of grass you should maintain depends on what type of lawn you have. If your lawn is rarely trodden on, a height of about 1 inch should be sufficient. However, if your lawn takes a lot of wear and tear (for children, pets, barbecue’s etc.) the height is better kept at around 2 inches.
You should ideally be mowing your lawn every week in spring. As the weather warms into summer however, it may require even more frequent mowing to keep thick and even. In periods of relative drought, it is worth cutting down the frequency of mowing to avoid cutting the grass too short. If you make your best judgement based upon expected weather and – quite simply – how long the grass looks, you should arrive at the correct frequency.
There are several means of feeding and fertilizing your lawn, with different methods and products appropriate for different times of the year. A good feed with a lawn fertilizer causes grass to grow thicker, appear greener and increases its vigour. This doesn’t just make for a more attractive lawn, but increases its resilience against weeds.
In spring, a granular feed, such as Westland Safe Lawn 80m2, is recommended as this releases a steady amount of nutrients over a period of weeks, perfect for supporting the growth rate which increases over a similar period. Most granular feeds will come with recommended rate; it’s best to adhere to this and apply when the soil is moist. You can achieve this by watering first or applying when rain is expected.
Lawns can lose some of their vigour in late spring and into summer. If this happens, it is worth using sulphate of ammonia to boost the vigour. If this is necessary, be sure to avoid scorching the grass by mixing the feed with soil beforehand and applying when the lawn is moist.
Generally speaking, repeating the application of fertiliser 6 weeks after the first application should be enough to ensure a healthy lawn that will last the summer. Simply be careful to apply evenly in order to avoid uneven growth. It is worth investing in a lawn spreader for this purpose.
Dealing with Weeds and Moss
If you enter spring with a lawn full of moss or weeds – or if these develop as the lawn grows – there are several ways to effectively deal with the problem. As mentioned above, a well-nourished lawn will be resilient against the weeds and moss, so it’s worth ensuring this in spring. If weeds or moss do appear however, it is best to treat them quickly.
Weeds can be fairly easily dealt with using a liquid lawn weed killer, Resolva Lawn Weedkiller for example. This, if applied properly, will kill weeds and leave grass intact. There are also similar products for moss, which often contain feed to boost the thickness and greenness of the surrounding grass, such as Westland Safe Lawn 80m2 Miracle Gro Evergreen Complete 4in1 Spreader. With moss killers, however, one thing to bear in mind is that moss will turn black when it dies, temporarily creating unsightly patches. Luckily, these are easy to remove. Miracle Gro Evergreen No Moss Rake is also a lawn food which removes moss but reduces the need to rake due to its moss reducing action.
After these products have been used, your lawn will naturally develop thin or entirely bare patches, and this will necessitate overseeding (see below). Deal with this in spring, however, and there will be plenty of time develop a dense and green sward for the summer.
Spring is by far the best time to repair any damage which the harsh winter or the encroachment of weeds and moss may have inflicted on your lawn. Ideally, you should aim to have a steadily nourished, even and thick lawn by the beginning of summer.
Bare or thin patches are best dealt with by overseeding – adding fresh seed to an existing lawn – and this process is essential to even out your grass. Patch-repair products, sold specifically for this purpose, contain all of this in one mixture, and can be applied directly to bare patches. You could use Gro-Sure Smart Seed Fast Start 25m2, Gro-Sure Smart Seed 40m2, Miracle-Gro Patch Magic Jug or Miracle Gro Patch Magic Dog Spot Repair if you have a dog. Feeding should then be done after the new grass has established.
However when you add the seed, it is necessary to keep it moist. Therefore, if no rain is due, water the area gently. New grass will sprout in approximately ten days and should then be incorporated into a steady mowing regime.
To really optimise your lawn care, it is worth aerating and scarifying the lawn. Aeration can be achieved with a specialised spiking machine, aerator or a simple fork. Slightly breaking up consolidated areas of soil will improve drainage and allow more air to circulate around the grass roots. This will at once protect against moss (usually a sign of a poorly drained lawn) and increase vigour.
Scarification involves removing the build-up of dead plant matter which can both make your lawn unsightly and put stress on your grass. To do this, vigorously pull a common garden rake through the grass, collect the dead material in a pile and dispose. It is best to do this just before a mowing session, as this will ensure the growing grass can withstand the process. After mowing, the lawn will be in a better position to grow in more fully.