The Professional Guide to Lawn Care
There’s really nothing better than a lovely, well-maintained lawn. Well, unless you’re the one tasked with maintaining it!
I’ll admit, I used to loathe caring for my lawn. No matter what I did, it seemed like I’d inevitably end up with brown spots, or it’d fail to grow despite my efforts in fertilising.
Then I figured out that you’re supposed to take different steps toward lawn care at different times of year.
Now, while I don’t love mowing or fertilising or mulching, I do alright. Things are at least healthy and green. And there’s that lovely look of envy from my neighbours that makes all my efforts worth it.
I thought I’d put together a list of the most important lawn care tips by season to help you get similar results. They all work, although they’ll require you to break a sweat every now and then, and you’ll find that some do come at a financial cost. So, let’s start with spring.
Spring Lawn Care
As spring rolls around, you’ll notice your grass starting to grow taller. It’ll be time for mowing before you know it. Resist the urge to cut it as low as possible to stave off mowing again in a week’s time. The first cut should just “top off” the grass. You only want to remove the top of the blades, so you’ll set the mower deck to the highest setting. For the next mowing (yes, within a week), you’ll put the deck back to its usual height. During the spring months, you’ll want to mow once per week.
Mowing’s not the only thing you’ll need to do. You should also take this opportunity to get rid of that moss that’s cropping up in your yard. Moss is a sign that your soil doesn’t drain well and stays damp. It also stops grass from growing. There are several lawn care products on the market that will feed your lawn while helping you to kill off problematic moss.
You’ll also need to feed/fertilise your lawn about now. Start around mid-spring (say about the beginning of April), and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. If the lawn is looking a bit patchy, I’d also recommend over seeding it now, but don’t do this until you’ve removed the moss and handled any weeding that needs to be done.
Depending on the amount of rainfall, you may need to water your lawn, as well. Don’t overwater it, though.
Summer Lawn Care
Ah, summer, the season of growth – bane to anyone who has a lawn. You’ll need to double down on your mowing during the summer months, but thankfully they’re brief. Most of us will have to mow twice a week to keep the lawn well-maintained, but if rain is sparse, cut that back to just once per week.
As a note, I recommend getting a lawn mower with a variety of cutting heights. In summer, you don't want to mow super-close to the turf, as this can actually encourage grass roots to grow shallowly, and it will weaken your grass, as well. That leads to early death, the need to reseed more often and a host of other issues that will cost you yet more time and money. You’ll want to fertilise with a summer formulation, particularly if your grass is looking a little bedraggled toward the end of summer. With that being said, avoid adding any fertiliser (or other conditioning lawn care products, for that matter) after August.
Watering is probably a requirement for you during the summer, but watch your water usage.
Autumn Lawn Care
Autumn is when your lawn will start to prepare for the coming winter. Growth will slow and eventually stop, and your work will be lighter (at least I hope it is). You really shouldn’t have much mowing to do during autumn, with the possible exception of once just after the season starts. With that being said, I do recommend you take a few other steps to help your lawn get through the winter.
One of those is to scarify the lawn (a fancy name for raking) to help remove thatching and ensure that water and nutrients actually make it into the soil where it’s needed. You should also aerate (rolling a spiked tube over the lawn to punch holes in the dirt – what fun!). Top dressing with a mix of sand, loam and organic material will also help your grass through the winter and encourage healthy growth come spring.
You may want to spread grass seed during the autumn so that it will germinate as soon as possible once warm weather returns.
Autumn is also the time to tackle moulds and fungi that might be causing you problems, as well as other pests. Depending on where you’re at in the UK, your lawn could be plagued with leatherjackets or chafer grubs. Wet winter weather also makes worm casts a problem, but they can be brushed down with a good broom after they’ve dried. Watch out for red thread and take-all patch, as well as lawn lichens, too.
Winter Lawn Care
In many ways, I think of winter lawn care as more maintenance than anything. There’s a bit of labour involved, but nothing backbreaking. Start off by raking the lawn. You need to get those dead leaves, twigs, branches and other bits off or they’ll kill the grass. This is also a good time to take a look around the yard and see if there are any branches, bushes or shrubs that might be casting too much shade for the grass, and prune them back.
While you’re at it, go ahead and do some maintenance on your mower and other tools – they could use a good oiling with all the work they’ve put in over the course of the year.
There you have it – a full year’s guide to caring for your lawn. It’s really not that difficult once you have a plan, but it will require that you get out and make the effort to keep things green, healthy and growing.