Have you ever looked across a beautifully manicured lawn at a golf course or stately home and wished your lawn at home looked similar? We’d hate to leave you wistfully dreaming so we’ve put together some do’s and don’t’s bound to dramatically improve the appearance of your own grass. So let’s get stuck in!
Aerate Your Soil
First things first, the most important job to keep your lawn healthy is to aerate it by removing small plugs of soil. This lets water and nutrients into the earth more easily, improves soil drainage and leaves space for roots to grow. You can most likely rent an aerating appliance (but make sure it removes plugs of soil rather than just making holes with spikes as this is better for your lawn). Spring or autumn is the best time of year to aerate the soil when it’s still nice and moist, but the grass is growing fast to fill in the holes.
Reseed Your Lawn
Sowing some grass seed across your lawn once a year will help stop your lawn from becoming sparse. Once you’ve aerated your soil sow the seeds (ideally after rainfall when the lawn is moist) and then rake the seeds into the ground with the left over plugs of soil from the soil aeration so they come into good contact with the earth. Shop around for high quality grass seed, seed that’s more resistant to grass diseases is ideal.
After aerating the soil and sowing seeds spread a thin top layer of compost about a quarter of an inch thick across your lawn. Compost is very good for grass; just one teaspoon contains a billion beneficial microorganisms. So just think how beneficial a coating across your whole lawn will be! Covering the grass seeds with compost will help seal in moisture for growth (as well as helping prevent the seeds from being eaten by hungry birds!)
Trim Bushes and Trees
Grass loves the sunshine, just watch it shoot up in spring when the sun first starts to poke its head from behind the clouds. Trimming back your trees and hedges so they don’t cast too much shade will help your grass grow and also help wind circulate around your garden keeping your lawn cool.
Thatch, decomposing old grass, leaves and garden debris underneath your lawn on the surface of the soil, can build up and stop nutrients and water reaching the roots of your grass plants. Aerating your soil will help stop thatch developing but if it has built up already, rake it up and remove it (ideally with an electric lawn rake as it’s a very labour intensive task!)
Don’t… Over Fertilise
Fertilising your lawn replaces valuable nutrients so you may think fertilising more often will be better for your lawn. Not so! When it comes to fertilising you can definitely have too much of a good thing. Over-fertilising your lawn is bad for the environment and can even stunt plant growth. As a rule you should fertilise twice a year at the absolute maximum, but if possible contact your local garden centre for help with soil testing to establish how much fertiliser your grass needs. You’ll save money on the unnecessary fertiliser you’d have bought.
Don’t… Over Water
Watering less often is actually good for your grass as well as your water bills! Plants in soil with less water send their roots deeper to seek out moisture and plants with deep roots are healthier. So let your grass get just to the point of wilting before watering it to avoid grass with very shallow roots. The best time to water your lawn is early morning when it’s not too hot to give the water a chance to seep into the soil.
Don’t… Neglect Mowing
When mowing long grass you cut off more of the plant and so it’s much healthier for grass to cut it when it’s just a little overgrown. Sharpen or replace blunt lawnmower blades as blunt blades could yank up patches of your lawn and make the leaves of your grass more susceptible to nasty diseases, both of which won’t do much for the appearance of your lawn.
Don’t… Cut Grass Too Low
The ideal cutting height of your lawnmower is 2-3 inches of the ground so if your mower cuts lower than this, raise the cutting height. It’s best never to cut more than a third of your grass blades as cutting lower down weakens the grass plants and leaves your lawn sparser with more spaces for weeds to grow. Taller grass also keeps your soil shaded, which keeps it damp for longer.
Don’t… Expect Golf Course Green
Be prepared to face the fact that the average garden lawn rarely looks as plush and green as the lawns on high end golf courses. Professionally maintained lawns are likely to have hi-tech watering systems full of chemicals and soil monitoring systems that just aren’t feasible for the average lawn. But stick to the above tips and you’ll notice the difference in the quality of your lawn. Besides the occasional daisy or patch of clover gives your lawn character, which would be a shame to lose.
Already happy with your grass, but want to get stuck into some gardening this weekend? We have a whole section of this blog dedicated to gardening tips; have a browse to find out how you could improve your garden.