One of the most common questions I’m asked is ‘How do I keep my lawn looking green and healthy?’
When I give my lawncare talk to gardening clubs, I start by asking the audience what’s the most important operation to get a fabulous looking lawn. After shouting out feeding, spiking, aerating, scarifying and a range of other answers, someone finally gives the right one – mowing. That’s right, if you don’t get your mowing right, everything else is a bit of a waste of time.
Mow, mow, mow
When the grass is growing, the lawn needs regular mowing to keep it looking great. Most people mow their lawns far too low, scalping the turf, or they mow too infrequently, both of which weaken it and allow weeds and moss to establish. For the best quality lawns, it should be cut whenever it reaches a height that can be cut. Ideally, you should simply “tip” the grass at each mow, taking off the very tip of the grass blades and do not removing more than one-third of its height at any cut. And keep the grass at more-or-less the same height all year round. For normal lawns that take a lot of wear and tear, the height should be around 4-5cm (1½-2in). For “bowling green” lawns of fine-leaved grasses this should be about 2-2.5cm (¾-1in). For lawns growing in shaded areas, mow even higher – around 7.5cm (3in). These heights can be raised slightly in autumn and winter and during periods of prolonged drought in summer.
Keep on mowing
Other than how do I keep my lawn looking green, another question we’re often asked in the Flower Power Gardening Club is when do I stop mowing in autumn and start again in spring? The simple answer is – you don’t! You should mow whenever the grass is growing.
Grass grows at temperatures of 5C (41F) and above, and in mild winters it will still grow. The only thing to prevent you getting out the mower is if the grass/soil is too wet and/or frozen, or in summer, during prolonged drought, it won’t grow as much, so won’t need cutting so frequently.
If you haven’t been mowing through the winter, you’ll need to set the blades at their highest height and then gradually reduce this with subsequent mowings. You could stress and weaken the grass if you make the first cut too low.
Water, water everywhere
Don’t forget that grass IS a plant and needs as much care as any other plant growing in the garden. So, after mowing, watering and feeding to keep it growing strong and healthy are the next most important lawncare operations.
Unbelievably, every square metre of lawn loses around 24.5-litres (4½ gallons/square yard) of water per week in summer. And if you want to keep it looking great, you’ll need to replace this, watering thoroughly once a week.
Of course, lawns nearly always bounce back and recover in autumn after a drought even if they haven’t been watered, but the lack of grass growth encourages lawn weeds and moss growth.
Feed me, feed me now!
People who don’t like mowing, don’t want to feed their lawn either. “Well, if you feed it, it grows more, so you have to mow it more”! It’s true that feeding does make it grow more quickly, but it also does other vital things that will help ensure your lawn makes everyone who sees it green with envy.
Regular mowing removes a lot of nutrients, and for a lawn that looks fabulous, lush and green you need to replace these nutrients with a lawn feed. Good feeding also makes the grass thicker, stronger and healthier, so it is better equipped to fight off moss, weeds and even drought stress in summer and cold and wet stress in winter. Liquid lawn feeds are a great choice as they start to work straight away, are far less likely to burn the grass than granular feeds and are less dependent on correct weather conditions. If you want to get great results, follow the lead of greenkeepers and groundspeople and use a “professional” feed. By which, I mean use Lawn Magic! As it contains iron sulphate, it will also help to keep moss in check.
And talking of moss, have you seen Richard’s brilliant Premium Moss Remover. It’s the natural way to a beautiful, moss-free lawn, with no raking needed to remove the dead moss! Just sprinkle it on and let the organic-based ingredients feed the lawn while naturally removing the unsightly moss.
When it comes to moss, just be aware you should never rake out live moss, as this spreads it further and makes the problem even worse!
Reseed is the key
And if your lawn isn’t looking its best with bare patches, patchy, uneven growth and very thin areas of grass, then there’s a solution to that too. All three can be cured with a simple application of fresh grass seed. You can reseed bare areas and overcome thin and patchy growth by something called overseeding. Simply scatter grass seed over the whole lawn at the rate of 15-25g per sq m (½-¾oz per sq yard), work it into the soil with the back of a rake or similar and water it in. Apart from regular care, this is the secret weapon used by greenkeepers and groundspeople to produce quality greens and pitches. Richard’s Premium Triple Use Grass Seed is perfect for starting a new lawn from scratch, reseeding bare patches and overseeding tired lawns.
How do I keep my lawn looking green without all the hard work? How about letting the grass grow and convert your lawn into a wildflower meadow? Not only does it involve less, regular work (it isn’t totally work free), you’ll be able to enjoy all those delightful wildflowers – and the local wildlife will love you forever.