Spring has arrived, which means that your lawn is welcoming another season of growing green and lush. A beautiful lush lawn is directly related to the effort you put into your garden. These 4 basic principles of lawn care will give your lawn the fresh start it needs going into summer.
Lawn care looks deceptively simple, but every time you fertilise, water or cut your lawn, you’re determining its chances of success or failure. Look after it the right way, and your lawn will respond by growing healthy and thick. Maintain it badly and you could end up killing it.
Many of these techniques are best applied on an autumn lawn and in the spring, allowing the grass the best chance to repair and grow throughout the summer.
Here are our top 4 basic principles of lawn care:
1. Water your lawn occasionally, but heavily!
You need to water your lawn to supply the right amount of moisture, cool down the soil temperature and wash fertilisers into the soil.
The best practice is to water it thoroughly to promote deeper root growth. Then wait a while allowing the upper 5cm of soil to dry out before watering it a second time. The amount of time needed for the top 5cm of soil to dry out is completely dependent on the rain as well as the amount of drainage that the lawn and soil provide – so it can take anywhere from 1 – 4 days for this to happen)
The amount of water you provide your lawn with is heavily dependent on the type of grass. But, it is generally recommended to provide your lawn with an average of 3cm of water per week during the rainy season and up to 5cm during the drier months.
Timing is everything when watering your lawn. Rather, water your lawn in the early morning – between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Midday watering leads to wasteful evaporation, while night time watering causes droplets to cling to the grass overnight, increasing the chance of lawn diseases.
2. Allow for taller grass during the warmer months of the year
By increasing the length of your lawn in the summer months you will provide it with additional shade. This allows the grass to increase protection from the sun. Enabling your lawn to expend more energy on root growth. You want to increase the length to 9cm – 11cm.
To not shock your grass, which can inhibit new growth and lead to dead patches. Avoid removing more than 1/3 of the height of your grass when mowing, at any one time. In periods when your lawn is growing faster, you may need to increase the number of times you mow per week.
Also, try to alternate your mowing direction each time to promote even growth.
3. Fertilising your specific grass type
Should you know which type of grass you have it is recommended to find a fertiliser that is especially suited to it.
- There are thousands of types of lawns in the world, but the most common in domestic lawns are as follows: Kikuyu Grass, Buffalo Grass, Couch/Bermuda Grass, Zoysia Grass, Tall Fescue
- The simplest way of establishing which type of grass you have would be to research the various varieties of grass online and compare the results to what you can see in your garden.
- Generally, the most telling aspect of a lawn is the type of blade or leaf (thick vs thing / pointed vs rounded) as well as the root system.
You will notice that all types of fertiliser will display the percentages of the 3 following nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (or NPK) always in that order. For lawns, nitrogen is generally seen as the most important and an NPK ratio of 3:1:2 is usually the best.
Avoid fertilising the edges of your lawn as well as, too closet to your flower beds and herb/vegetable gardens, since the run-off from watering may infiltrate these areas. Carrying the fertiliser with it which could potentially lead to adverse reactions with the other plant life in your garden. This is especially true with synthetic fertilisers as opposed to organic kinds. In extreme cases, some types of fertiliser can even be poisonous when consumed, which could lead to rather serious ramifications should the fertiliser contaminate any fresh produce you plan to eat.
4. Manicuring your lawn, through de-thatching and aerifying
These two practices involve removing dead root material from a lawn and ventilating the root system in the growing season when the underlying thatch becomes a visible problem.
De-thatching: refers to the mechanical removal from a lawn of a thatch layer that is too thick. Use a thatching rake, which is a sharp-tined rake that rips the thatch out of the lawn. Leaf rakes or hard rakes can be used but may not work as well
Aeration: is carried out to enable air to get to the roots. It aids drainage and also allows water, minerals and nutrients to reach the roots. It’s done by using a spike roller, fork or a hollow tining machine to punch holes into the soil.
It is recommended that you perform tasks such as de-thatching and aerifying your lawn on an annual basis. Generally before the start of every new growing season. This will ensure that when the new growth commences, it will have the best odds of surviving and even thriving. Neglecting to do this can lead to a variety of issues during the time of year when your lawn should be looking its best.
Should you fail to carry out de-thatching and aerifying before the new season commences, you may end up with a lawn that displays dead patches or areas of extremely slow growth throughout the season. Should you only tackle these issues when they display themselves instead of preemptively dealing with them, you run the risk of losing valuable growth and establishment during a time when your lawn should be flourishing.
The principles outlined above are very basic and conventional. There are thousands of different methods of caring for your lawn. You may identify some that work extremely well that has not been included in this blog. It is never a bad idea to do some research (especially after you have correctly identified your lawn type) to identify techniques that could potentially make maintaining your lawn easier, more effective and less time-consuming.