Lawn care is fundamental to good gardening. New lawns, in particular, require daily care and watering to become established, but once a lawn is stable is should be maintained using a range of different techniques. Here are some of the most important lawn care tips.
1. Regular Cutting. Mowing the lawn should be a weekly activity, and most garden experts would recommend not cutting too closely, as it damages the shoots. It also allows light to filter down to the soil, encouraging weeds. The ideal height is around 4cm from the ground, and perhaps as short as 3cm in the summer. Ensure that your mower cuts consistently and accurately to the required height.
2. Apply Lawn Food. Some encouragement may be needed during spring to provide nutrition for a greener lawn. The best preparations contain a weed control agent and moss killer and usually take around five minutes to apply from a tank sprayer. For an organic alternative, you can sprinkle a handful of phosphate-rich bone meal over each square yard of your lawn during autumn.
3. Reapply Weed Control. Summer heat can rob a lawn of moisture, and encourage unwelcome guests such as dandelions and daisies, which may be attractive and seasonal, but deny moisture and nutrients to the grass. Weed control needs to be reapplied before watering, to encourage healthy grass, which will in turn force out remaining weeds.
4. Trim the Edges. Your lawn will creep over the borders and begin to crowd your flowering plants, so use a set of shears to keep this in check and cut any stubborn clumps back to the border. Long-handled tools place less strain on the back. A half-moon edging iron will keep the line straight.
5. Water at the right time of day. This can depend on the season and the available resources. Early morning watering can prove helpful, as water will have a chance to sink in before the hottest hours of the day. Watering in the evening may encourage water to linger, and puddles can effectively drown roots. Make sure that a morning watering session allows at least an inch of water to penetrate.
6. Inspect the Colour. If the grass is growing through with a green tinge, it may not be getting th water it needs. Check the dampness of the soil with a spike. It should remain moist down to six inches. The lawn will begin to grow more sparsely in preparation for the winter and may require some encouragement to keep it healthy.
7. Scarify your Lawn. This is the act of removing the dead cuttings from the grass, as they will block light and water from the roots of the fresh shoots. Comb the old thatch out using a scarifier or lawn rake, ideally twice a year.
8. Aerate your Lawn. Make a regular pattern of holes with a fork, or use a spiking machine to reduce bending and fatigue while aerating larger lawns. Compaction of the soil will result in loss of air spaces under the surface, and grass will weaken through insufficient oxygen supply. Introduce air into the soil regularly to help the grass prosper, even in dry spells.
9. Minimise Traffic. Limit access for pets and children to minimise damage and allow new grass shoots to flourish without the additional friction of feet and wheels. This is especially important for new patches of lawn.
10. Invest in a Good Hose. Regardless of water availability, the hose needs to reach into the furthest reaches of the garden and distribute water evenly across the whole surface. The hose should be wound into a reel or carrier to minimise tangles.
Written by Sam Luther, a gardening blogger.