Give your lawn the kiss of life throughout the year

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If you have a well-established lawn, regular maintenance is needed to keep it healthy and looking good. 

The most frequent tasks are, of course, mowing and watering throughout the summer.

Annual maintenance should also include fertilising, top-dressing, aerating and controlling moss, weeds, pests and diseases.

Watering

Grass, once established, generally resists drought well but growth slows down and the turf turns brown in prolonged dry spells. 

To maintain growth and colour, it is essential to water the lawn thoroughly in very dry periods. 

The best time to water is in the early morning or during the evening to minimise evaporation.

It is vital to give the lawn a good soak  at least once a week, rather than a quick sprinkle every day, which will only encourage root growth near the surface which will soon be damaged in dry weather.

To encourage strong deep roots, the soil should be moistened to a depth of 12cm.

Fertilising

As with all plants, grasses require food to grow and regular applications of fertiliser helps ensure a vigorous healthy lawn. 

Lawns need feeding twice a year, in spring and again in mid-summer.

There are many liquid and solid fertilisers available, but it is important not to exceed the maker’s recommended distribution.

If it has not rained two days after you spread solid fertiliser, you must water the lawn or the feed could damage the lawn.

Renovating a neglected lawn 

The best time to start any renovation work is early spring because the grass will grow on well during the spring and summer and should be well established by the end of the season. 

First, remove any thatch with a springtine rake, then cut the grass to about 5cm using a rotary mower, removing the clippings. 

After seven days, mow again but this time with a cylinder mower set to its highest cut. 

Over the next two weeks gradually reduce the height of the cut until it reaches the correct level.

At this stage feed the lawn with a liquid fertiliser and two weeks later apply a weedkiller. If there are any bare or uneven patches, they may be reseeded after 14 days.  

Worm casts

Worm casts provide ideal sites for the germination of weeds, but you do not want to really kill them (though this is possible with chemicals) as they provide valuable drainage.

If worm casts are a problem, simply brush the lawn to spread them about before mowing. 

Lawn weeds 

The simplest method of dealing with weeds is to use a weed and feed mixture applied with a fertiliser spreader or by hand. 

If you want to avoid using chemicals, it is possible to remove larger weeds, such as dandelions, by hand using an old kitchen knife.

If the lawn is affected by moss, treat it with a chemical moss killer or lawn sand then remove it by scarification (vigorous raking).    

Repairing damage 

If an area of the lawn becomes damaged, it can usually be repaired by removing the affected part then turfing or reseeding with a suitable grass mixture.

You can use a patch of turf from a less prominent part of the lawn to repair the damaged area. 

If the edge of the lawn is damaged, cut a square of turf around the damaged area and turn it around to give a straight edge, leaving the hole nearer the middle of the lawn where it can be re-seeded.

See full story in the Leader

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