Looking After Your Lawn
Why should I buy lawn fertiliser?
You will never have a good lawn without using fertilisers and there are several good reasons why you should apply fertiliser products to your lawn.
Of all the plants in your garden, grass suffers the most abuse. It gets walked on, played on, partied on during the BBQ season, and not to mention our pets enjoy it too. To top it off it gets cut back over 20 times per year! No other plant in your garden could tolerate the abuse that your grass has to put up with.
This wear and tear takes its toll on the grass therefore, you need a programme to make the grass strong and healthy for your family activities, and to also help aid recovery when the grass is under stress from our ever-changing weather. Let’s face it, a thin, patchy lawn full of weeds and moss does not enhance your property and can make your home look neglected. Whereas a well cared for lawn makes a home and garden look beautiful.
Grass extracts nutrients (fertiliser) from the soil through the roots then, by absorbing sunlight through the leaves, it processes these nutrients into food which is called photosynthesis. To keep the grass plant healthy we have to replace these nutrients in the soil and that’s why we use lawn fertilisers. A combination of nutrients is essential for a healthy lawn and the 3 primary nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). In addition, you may require calcium, magnesium, sulphur, and there is also iron or ferrous sulphate which is traditionally used as a moss killer or as a tonic to harden turf over the winter period to aid resistance to frost and disease.
We would recommend your lawn was fertilised in spring, early summer, late summer, autumn and winter, taking account of the season and weather conditions at the time. Remember it’s important to also water your lawn when you feed it, especially if there has been no rainfall or there is no rain forecast as all lawn's require water in dry conditions in order to keep their colour. You wouldn’t let a house plant go dry so it’s imperative that you don’t let your lawn dry out either.
Why should I Aerate my lawn?
Aeration is one of the most beneficial things you can do to improve your lawn. By aerating your lawn you are creating the environment for your lawn to breath by increasing the amount of air in the soil. In addition, you are also reducing compaction and allowing nutrients from fertiliser to penetrate and filter through the soil where they will be more effective in order to improve root development and structure. Aeration also improves drainage and allows rain-water to filter away from the surface and increase the water holding capacity stimulating the root depth which in turn will help make your lawn more drought tolerant.
The two most popular forms of aeration are solid tine aeration (spiking) which can be carried out with a lawn aerator, spiker or fork, alternatively, and also more effective, is hollow-tine aeration (coring). Hollow-tine aeration removes a plug from the lawn which is the best way to reduce compaction and this can be carried out by hollow-tine aerator machine or a manual hollow-tine foot operated device.
Why should I Scarify my lawn?
Scarifying is a very important operation to improve and maintain your lawn. All lawns can get a build up of dead organic matter called thatch. As this layer builds up over time, it restricts the penetration of water and nutrients from lawn fertiliser getting down to the root zone of the grass. Over time this will suffocate your lawn, producing weak growth which will feel spongy, lifeless and will allow moss to thrive.
Scarifying is the process of removing the organic matter (thatch layer) from the surface of your lawn where moss develops and spreads. This helps to re-invigorate your lawn allowing it to breathe and permit water and nutrients to reach the root zone.
Scarifying can be carried out using a springbok rake, a manual push scarifier, or an electrical/motorised mechanical scarifier. This is best carried out in spring or early autumn and should never be carried out in drought conditions. If there is no rainfall always water after scarifying has taken place. It is also recommended that heavily scarified lawns should be over seeded directly after as this will also help to speed up the recovery and restore your lawn.
Mowing the Lawn
You will never achieve a beautiful lawn without good mowing practice as proper mowing is one of the most important aspects in keeping your lawn healthy. Grass is a plant and like most plants if you cut off the growing point the plant then branches out and becomes denser but the mere act of mowing is not what makes your lawn look good. Mowing height and mowing frequency determine how healthy and attractive your lawn looks so the motto is little and often.
Most grasses have a recommended mowing height, on a domestic lawn that height is generally between ¾ and 1½ inches. Although some fine turf grasses can be cut shorter try not to let your grass grow too long before you cut it and never cut more than one-third off the length of your grass in one cut as this will send the grass into shock. When grass has been sent into shock it will become yellow/brown in colour and appear dead. You may also get unsightly brown tips on your grass when the lawn has been mown when it is too wet.
In dry summer conditions always water your lawn after mowing has been carried out.
What type of lawnmower is best for your lawn?
For the majority of us the rotary mower is most suitable, this is because it can cope better than a cylinder mower when the grass is overgrown. It also copes better with uneven lawns than a cylinder mower plus rotary mowers with the addition of a rear roller will stripe your lawn too. However, if you have a flat lawn and you are cutting your lawn often and the perfect cut and stripe is what you are looking for, then a cylinder mower may be the one for you.
Mowing the lawn helps to stimulate side shoot growth and development in the grass and this leads to the build up of a dense, healthy lawn that has a strong growth rate.