With a just bit of love and care, anyone can create a healthy, lush garden lawn.
Lawn perfection just requires some planning and regular maintenance, here are our top tips to help you achieve it.
Regular mowing will keep your lawn in good health and looking great.
In the summer, the average lawn needs mowing twice weekly, or once a week or less during periods of drought.
During the spring and autumn seasons, most lawns can be mown just once a week, depending on the weather. If you prefer a less-manicured look and like lawns full of flowers and long grass, then you needn’t cut your grass atall in spring. This will attract more insects and wildlife to your garden.
Some people wonder what to do with all of those grass clippings. If they’re short, they can be left on your lawn to work as a natural fertiliser. If grass is longer, then clippings may need to be removed, as they take longer to break down and can block sunlight from reaching the grass underneath.
Moss can be a nuisance if you have a damp, poorly drained lawn. It can be frustrating to watch moss grow more abundantly than the grass itself.
Scarification is the answer for most lawns. This simply means raking out the moss. You can do this in September or October. If you have a larger lawn, you may want to hire a mechanical scarifier rather than just using a rake.
Alternatively, you could apply a weedkiller (moss killer) in autumn or spring. The moss will die and then need raking away, make sure you follow the instructions on your chosen product.
Ultimately, though, if you have a moss problem, you need to get to its root cause as it will just keep coming back. Moss can usually be prevented by encouraging grass growth in its place, which you can achieve through feeding and regular lawn maintenance.
Once you’ve got rid of any moss or weeds, you’re likely to be left with patches in your lawn. Or you may simply have a patchy lawn anyway. If this is the case, over-seeding may be necessary. This can be done in early autumn or mid-spring.
Follow the instructions on your chosen lawn seed, but you’ll probably want to first mow the lawn, then rake it and then spike it with a garden fork, before re-seeding it.
If you’re having trouble matching the colour of your existing grass, then you could over-seed the whole lawn to achieve a uniform colour. If your lawn is in the shade, then use a shade-tolerant lawn seed mix.
As with any plants, it’s good to feed them occasionally. Adding fertiliser will help keep your lawn lush and green and help to keep the weeds and moss at bay.
You would usually feed your lawn twice a year, in spring and autumn, when the soil is moist, or when rain is expected.
Rather than artificial feeds, consider using organic or home-made fertilisers.
Contrary to popular belief, established lawns can usually withstand dry summers without watering at all, unless there are extreme drought conditions. Even if they turn brown and dry, they’ll usually recover their green glow when the rain starts again. So, don’t worry if there’s a hosepipe ban, a well-established lawn should be fine, plus you’ll be helping the environment.
The exception are new lawns, which require watering throughout their first season.
We can’t forget weeds, the bane of many gardeners, as they compete with grass for sunlight, water and nutrients, and certainly don’t look the part if you’re going for that manicured look.
If you do want to rid your garden of weeds, there are a number of non-chemical options you should try before you reach for the weedkiller.
For a start, good lawn maintenance - feeding, scarifying and so on - will encourage strong grass growth, making it more difficult for the weeds to compete. You can remove the likes of dandelions or daisies with a hand fork, and any others can be raked over and mown out. Another option when combatting weeds naturally, is to avoid mowing your lawn too short, as this can weaken the grass and allow some weeds in.
Get a soil sample
If you’re really committed to creating a super lawn, then why not have your soil tested to better understand any underlying problems.
For example, you can request a soil sample kit from the RHS. For a fee, they’ll analyse soil texture, pH, organic matter and nutrients, providing a detailed interpretation of the results as well as fertiliser recommendations.
Consider giving over at least some of your lawn to wildlife. If you stop mowing and tending to part of your lawn you can create a home for all sorts of creatures.
You could still retain a manicured lawn but have some patches of meadow at the edges or around any trees. Try adding wildflower meadow mixes to these areas and they’ll make a beautiful contrast to your lush lawn in summer; whilst inviting butterflies and other wildlife to enjoy your garden too.