A lush healthy lawn is every gardener’s dream. The focal point of any garden, your lawn will go through a lot of wear and tear throughout the year, so good upkeep is essential. Changing weather, general usage and the emergence of weeds and garden pests all cause their own problems, and our top tips will help you to get the most from your lawn.
Tips for a Healthy Lawn
Mow to the Right Height
Cutting the grass is the first step to making a lawn healthy. A freshly cut garden is a welcoming sight to all; but if done wrong it can prove troublesome. When mowing the lawn, make sure you’re choosing the right height. This maximises the health of your grass, giving you less work to do in the long run.
By cutting grass taller you’re allowing your garden to do a lot of work itself. Tall grass shades soil, keeping it cool and retaining moisture. Taller grass also prevents weed seeds from growing easily by shading them out. Keeping grass short may seem like the ideal way to reduce mowing time overall. Cutting short is scalping your lawn which weakens grass, exposing soil to lawn moss and weed infestation.
Your first cut of the year should be at a height of 2.5-4cm (1-1.5inch). This removes any dead grass and allows sunlight to reach the roots. When summer comes, raised the blade height to around 5cm (2inch). You should only cut the top third of each blade of grass.
Sharpen Your Blades
Cutting to the right height is a big step to a healthy lawn, but if you’re cutting with a blunt blade you may cause unwanted damage to your garden. Mowing with a dull blade shreds grass, leaving ragged blades which turn yellow and brown as they die off.
Using a sharp blade gives your garden an even cut which keeps grass growing thick and healthy. The image below shows the difference between how a dull blade and sharp blade will look.
Its recommended you sharpen your blade at least once a year. Depending on how often you’re mowing and how damaged your blade gets. The more it is used, the more often it needs sharpening. Be mindful of balancing the blade when sharpening. An unbalanced blade can cause the same damage as a dull blade.
Alternate Mowing Patterns
The next step to a healthy lawn takes place over time. As you mow the grass it leans into the direction you’re mowing before rebounding upright again.
Using the same mowing pattern causes grass to lie in the same direction, looking untidy and possibly damaging the lawn. Repeat this over a long time and your lawnmower can form compacted ruts in the garden. These ruts are dead patches of soil which may need replacing or refertilising for any grass to grow.
The way to prevent these issues is simple, by changing the way you mow the lawn. Switching your mowing pattern keeps grass tall and upright. Also letting you experiment with your lawn to have it looking perfect.
Moving on from mowing to the equally important task of watering your garden. Mostly covered by the British weather and the rain it brings, but it won’t always do the job. Don’t rely on rain alone to maintain a healthy lawn, when a dry spell hits you’ll need to be ready.
A healthy lawn needs 1-2 inches of water each week, so check the forecast before watering. Think about the soil type and temperature for how much water a lawn needs. Sandy soil drains better and may need twice as much water, clay soils might need half. Extreme heat dries out a garden quicker too.
It’s best to water your garden by soaking the lawn 4-5 inches deep, then watering when the top 1-2 inches of soil dries out. Deep watering causes root systems to grow deeper, where they find more nutrients in soil. Be sure to water early in a morning if possible. This gives your garden more time to dry out and less water will evaporate. Watering in the evening runs the risk of your garden not drying, causing moss or fungi to form.
Keep Grass Fertile
Healthy grass is fertile grass. So, knowing when to fertilise your garden is important to getting the best results.
Most gardeners suggest you fertilise your lawn twice a year. Starting in early spring to encourage roots to grow for the warmer months. You should then apply an Autumn fertiliser once summer ends so your lawn can recover and prepare for the cold winter ahead.
Lightly feed your garden throughout the year to maintain nutrient intake and healthy growth. Keeping grass clippings from mowing on your lawn is a good source of nutrients. Grasscycling can also provide around 25% of your lawn’s required fertiliser.
Keep on Top of Weeds
Weeds growing in the garden is a common problem, but can be prevented or easily handled. A tall healthy garden is a big step in the right direction, but it can’t always stay clear.
Keeping a tall lawn is a natural way to prevent weeds growing (as mentioned previously) but isn’t 100% effective. If you want to take extra measures to stop weeds growing. Apply a weed killing fertiliser in early spring, which takes care of the roots before anything can sprout.
If you do spot weeds on your garden, fear not as there are plenty of solutions. Weed removal is best done by digging out the plant and roots. This can be done either by hand, or using a trowel or hoe. Destroying the roots is crucial as this prevents regrowth. Using weed killing products is a good second option as a time saver or if you have a large-scale problem.
Aerate Your Lawn
Oxygen is just as important to grass roots as water and nutrients, so it needs a good supply. Your garden will always be taking in oxygen, but work can be done to improve this.
Aerating your lawn twice a year is a way of making space for roots to grow. By removing small plugs of soil allows water and fertiliser to reach deeper soil. It reduces soil compaction and breaks down and removes thatch.
Aerate your lawn in early spring and at the end of summer. Try aerating around the same time as applying spring and autumn fertiliser. The two jobs work together to create a better garden. Aeration should take place on a day with moist but not soaked soil.
With all the general maintenance tasks done, adding finishing touches is the final step to perfect healthy lawn. These small quality of life tasks can be the difference between a good garden and a great garden.
Edging your lawn is a great way to add a look of tidiness to your garden. Use edging shears to tidy the grass and define your edge with a spade or edger.
Mark areas for plants and flowers to improve the look of your garden. Maintain and tidy this area as you carry out tasks in the garden and experiment with new ideas.