Lawn improvement.-It can sometimes seem like it’s impossible to improve your existing lawn as you try a multitude of fertilisers and remedies without much success. However if you follow the steps below you can eradicate problems, and restore your lawn to a lush fertile carpet of grass, you’ll save a lot of time and money compared to if you started again by scratch.
Here are our top tips for improving your lawn, tackling the most common complaints homeowners face.
The Wicked Way to Tackle Weeds
Nitrogen is the most important nutrient you can give to grass in order to promote lawn improvement & encourage good growth; however it also promotes the growth of weeds too. The weeds may grow taller with a high nitrogen lawn feed but this actually makes them easier to kill. After feeding, use lawn sand, or weed killers with ingredients of mecoprop, dichlorprop or MCRP – you’ll find the newly fed grass will quickly replace the spaces left over by the dead weeds. Granule based Fertilisers that also contain weed killers are commercially available. Some specialist companies who supply chemicals for the golf & courses and cricket industry have web sites where you can order professional products if you are dealing with a large lawn or want to buy a bulk supply.
If you have a patch you want to dig over and start again, remember some weeds are actually great nitrogen fixers such as creeping buttercup and clover. The presence of these means you can expect a lush green lawn.
Remove the thatch.
Over time lawns build up a layer of dead grass its called thatch. Look closely at your grass its easily to see the light golden brown layer at the base of the grass. Removing this will allow new grass shoots to emerge. Use a stiff with rake in a brushing motion to rip it out. You will be amazed on how much has accumulated & this will help with your lawn improvement. If you’re into keeping fit this is reckoned to provide the best type of garden work out. If your lawn is large and you don’t want to bring on early heart failure opt for a mechanical solution they are available from most hire shops.
The Importance of Aeration & Top Dressing
Aerating the lawn has many advantages, it allows roots to receive much needed oxygen provides extra drainage for the grass, loosens the soil & will aid root growth and provides a great base for establishing seed.
How to aerate your lawn.
If your lawn is small all you need is a garden fork and pierce the soil at regular intervals. For larger lawns, equipment can be hired or you can invest in new-fangled aerating shoes that have spikes on the soles so you aerate as you walk!
Just spiking holes in reality is just forcing the soil apart and untouched will soon close back up. While the holes are still open its best to dress the lawn with dry sand or a top dressing. Use a stiff brush and work the material well down into the spike holes. (make sure you use Lawn sand if you use builders sand its possible you will cause damage to the grass ) In most cases the spike holes are quite narrow and it’s difficult to get the sand to fill the holes. If your lawn has a high clay content you may want to consider a mechanical aerator of a type that actually cuts out a small plug of soil- this will leave you with a lawn that has decent diameter holes that will enable you to fill with sand or top dressing to suit your soil condition. This is an essential part of lawn improvement
This step is carried out straight after aeration while the spike holes are still open . Top dressings are best bought from specialist lawn companies and manufactured to suit all different soil types. Essentially they are sand and loam mixed in in various percentages. For example if your existing lawn has a high clay content then a top dressing with a high sand content would be the natural choice. If this carried out regularly over a period of time it will break the clay down an improve drainage.
How to apply Top dressing-
This is best done with a piece of equipment called a lawn lute- see the pic- If you cant get one of these then using the back of a garden rake will do. The object is to add a thin layer of the new dressing to the complete area of lawn without burying the grass. So it needs to be well worked in between the blades & will help with lawn improvement.
Protect from Pests
If you have spots of tired lawn or are quite bemused as to what is causing your grass to die, you may have a pest problem. The most common are:
- Leatherjackets – These are the larvae of the more commonly known “Daddy Long Legs” and they feed on distressed areas. They look like black maggots and will lie just below the grass surface chewing the roots, leaving patches of dead grass. An insecticide will kill them however if you’d like an organic solution, simply cover the lawn with black plastic overnight. They will rise to the surface and when you remove the sheet in the morning, the birds will feed on the grubs.
- Worms – It’s those coiled pieces of soil from their casts rather than the worms themselves, which cause a problem. When flattened they suffocate fine grass and provide the perfect blob of soil for weeds to grow. Simply use a stiff brush to sweep the grass before mowing to distribute them evenly.
- Moles – You’ll know if you have moles. Either pieces of the lawn will give way underfoot or you’ll find soil mounds dotted around. Their tunnels can cause a lot of damage. You can try deterring them by placing a plastic bottle, (cut in half with the neck down) into the mounds, as when the wind blows, the vibrations deter the moles. A more severe solution is to use mole traps or a qualified pest controller.
Luckily there are not that many diseases capable of killing an entire lawn; many just need a speedy solution before your lawn can recover. Chemical solutions are available for treating most lawn pests an diseases.
- Mushrooms – Fungi can grow readily on a newly sown lawn or in fairy rings. If it’s not in any particular pattern, it is probably only a temporary problem as the mushrooms enjoy the new soil. However if you find fairy rings where dead grass accompanies the fungi, you will have to remove the whole patch and reseed.
- Red thread – Red Thread Disease is noticeable by pinkish patches of dead grass appearing within the lawn. It can be cured with good maintenance such as aerating the lawn and adding good fertiliser.
- Other Dead Patches – If you have other dead patches these could be due to shade, female dog urine, cat urine or poor drainage.
Mowing for Optimal Health
To help a distressed lawn recover, never use the lowest setting on a mower as this “scalps” the grass and encourages moss to form. You should also make sure any mower you are using has sharp blades its really important to keep mower blades sharp essential for lawn improvement.
Watering for a Luscious Lawn
Although sprinklers save water a quick splash will do nothing for your grass. Instead water less regularly for longer. You need the water to reach the roots rather than just the top 1cm. Water until the soil is penetrated by 4- 5cms.
With all of these steps you’ll soon have a luscious green lawn to be proud of!