Get the lushest grass on the block and make your neighbours green with envy with these seven simple dos and don’ts for maintaining a lawn that is healthy and weed-free.
Whether you are sowing new grass from seed or caring for an existing lawn, these easy tips will ensure you get the best results.
1. Do apply seed carefully
To avoid an overpopulated lawn with too many plants competing for nutrients and sunlight, take care when distributing grass seeds. The exact concentration for a given species will be recommended on the pack of grass seed, but it will usually be about 40g per square metre. Water new seed lightly at least twice a day. Dampen the soil more often during hot, windy weather and keep watering for at least two weeks.
2. Do read the instructions
Whether you’re diluting concentrate or adjusting the spreader setting for grass seed, take care to follow the recommendations on the packaging. It’s also important to pay attention to the details, such as the preferred temperature range or to avoid using a product if rain is forecast.
3. Don’t catch the clippings
Leaving grass clippings on the lawn releases nutrients back into the soil, reducing the need for fertiliser by up to 25. Spread them in a thin layer instead of leaving them in thick clumps to avoid suffocating the grass.
4. Don’t over-fertilise
Increasing the amount of fertiliser you use is not going to improve its effect. Overdosing on fertiliser will either kill your lawn outright or make it turn yellow and take weeks to heal.
5. Do work with the season
Rake up fallen leaves in the autumn or they will suffocate the new sprouts in spring and leave dead spots. Aerate before fertilising in autumn if you have heavy loam or clay soil. Just before winter, mow the lawn back hard to about 40 to 50mm high to help prevent mould growth.
6. Don’t dethatch too often
Dethatching, also called vertimowing, involves using a device resembling a powered rotary rake to tear out the matted dead grass stems below the green growth. Dethatching damages the roots as well, stressing the grass, and should only be done when more than 6mm of thatch has accumulated.
7. Do use a spreader
For the most even distribution of seed or fertiliser, set your spreader to half the recommended rate and treat the lawn twice from opposite directions. When using the spreader for fertiliser, fill it on a paved area, not grass, and clean it carefully after use.
Three ways to make it all quicker, simpler and cheaper
Use a broadcast spreader not a drop spreader to distribute seeds and fertiliser. Drop spreaders are difficult to use and can result in stripes or chequer patterns. A broadcast spreader sprinkles its contents in a wider pattern, resulting in consistent coverage.
Reseed in late summer or early autumn for best results. The fragile seedlings are unlikely to survive when the weather is too hot and dry. By the time winter comes, the grass will be well established and the heavier rainfall will promote strong and deep root growth.
Use concentrates whenever possible and dilute them yourself, which is considerably cheaper than buying premixed products. Only mix as much as you can use within a week or two, as minerals in tap water will reduce the potency of the chemicals within that time.