We have all been there once; the awkward pardoning of the 'state of’ the garden. Here we are going to explain what you can do to encourage a luscious lawn that you can be proud of – and you don’t have to be an artist with shears or a budding botanist to achieve it!
From the guidance on soil, to how to get the greenest grass in the cul-de-sac we have collected the best advice we can recommend to keep your garden in tip top condition focusing on gripes that bug lawn cultivator's year in, year out!
Good things in life take effort and a lush, green, lawn is no exception this this! Have you ever craved for your neighbors' emerald green grass even though you’ve conditioned your soil, watered correctly and even painstakingly weeded by hand? It’s likely that they are aerating their soil (and cutting down on who’s trampling across the lawn). Dedicated (and rigid)? Yes. Worth it? Undoubtably.
Dogs, foxes, cats, hedgehogs and even children running across lawns can cause the soil, over time, to condense and become compacted. This can put all your other hard work to waste as compacted soil leads to poor water drainage, air circulation and nutrient absorption. It creates an environment where soil organisms, such as earthworms, are unable to burrow into the thick, dense, soil which can lead to sparseness and thinning of the lawn eventually.
Aerate your lawn, at least, once a year! Aerating the lawn sounds far more scientific than it actually is – you're essentially poking holes, at least three inches deep, in your lovely garden (targeting the high traffic areas). These punched holes service your lawn in a very beneficial way though allowing the perfect environment for all of your efforts to come together; the best medium for green grass.
The best time to aerate your lawn is in early Spring where it will begin growing and really benefit from having that boost in air circulation, water drainage and nourishment.
For success with your lawn maintenance you need to pay attention to your soil. By this we don’t mean watering it in line with some plan you devised on a social media group, the reality is that more than likely you will waterlog your soil and do more harm than good. No, here in this tip we are talking soil condition and maintenance through organic matter and good watering practices.
You need to ensure the soil has the right ratio of ingredients to promote a healthy lawn; generally, the best soil is composed of 50% air and water, 45% minerals, acids etc, and then organic matter accounting for a seemingly tiny 5%! The good news for gardeners is this means a small amount can go a long way especially if you have tougher soil types such as loose and sandy, or a heavier clay soil. If you are really interested on the composition of your soil then it is recommended that every 5 years or so you have a soil contamination test done. They are inexpensive and can provide you with great information about what ingredients you need to bring into your soil.
What’s the organic matter? Well, it’s nothing fancy – just good, old, degraded hay, straw, grass, and aged manure. Compost, or ‘Black Gold’ is a top of the range conditioner that you can pair with your soil to give your lawn the micronutrients it needs to thrive! Conveniently, it is another excellent addition to the greenhouse that you do not need to purchase from a store. You can age your own organic matter in a composter over months in your own garden!
Forget scheduled watering and react to your lawns needs. This involves taking more notice of your lawn on a day to day basis – depending on your location (soil type, grass type and exposure to wind and sun) and the conditioning of your soil (a nutrient rich soil will naturally retain water for longer) you will need to make a judgement on whether to water. Unlike most other plants, grass goes into a dormant state when moisture reaches intense levels and so it is better to underwater than to overwater.
Step on it! Good indicators are when the lawn is starting to dull in color and the shafts of grass will lose their springiness. Testing a patch of the lawn by stepping on the grass to see if a footprint is left and seeing how quickly the grass springs back, is a good experiment if you are unsure.
Watering your lawn at sensible times should be a no-brainer; like not in the peak day sun. But also avoid watering before cool night falls as this can promote disease in your lawn. As with compost, the condition of your soil will determine how much water you need to use on your lawn; typically, sandy soil will need an inch of water whereas clay soils only need around half an inch. This is easier to measure if you have a sprinkler system by putting containers in the waterfall area; otherwise you might need to go around the garden clockwise twice to ensure you have properly watered the lawn. Time consuming – we know, but deeper watering and less often will lead to some really impressive results.
If you spend regular time on your garden, observing the conditions that you have and taking the right measures to encourage and promote the lush and healthy growth of your lawn, then you should be on your way to excellent lawn care.
Ever heard the old expression ‘if you give a weed an inch then it will take the yard’? Well it is true and well earned from the broad-leafed weed to the prettier daffodil. Weeds are pesky because not only can they look out of place and messy in an otherwise tidy lawn but they can lead to unsightly patches, absorbing much needed nourishment, creating an uneven and sparse look to your lawn. Too many people leave weeds to build up, promising to deal with them ‘in one go this time, for once and for all!’. Like they are preparing for battle; and when after 3 hours of weed pulling you can taste the sweat from your own brow it can feel a little like it.
Regularly examining for weeds and tackling them immediately should be part of your garden lawn’s regular maintenance; this will help prevent any patches forming and help you to remain on top of the areas that are prone to developing weeds. Ultimately getting down on your hands and knees, digging down deep, and taking the weed out from the root up is the best way to nip the issue in the bud.
Should I use a chemical, or an organic, weed killer?
If the strenuous hand tugging of weed’s isn’t for you (or you simply don’t have the time!) then you can still help keep weed’s at bay with the benefit from a weed killer. You can find spray or concentrated weed killer in most home or super stores.
Chemical weed killers are known for being fast acting, yielding reliable results and enabling gardeners to cover larger areas that manual hand-removal simply can’t accomplish. However, more and more, it is discovered that chemical weed killers can have huge downsides for the environment as well as killing more than just the intended weeds in cases.
With people becoming more environmental conscious there are now some great Organic alternatives cropping up that once used would be a welcome addition to any gardener's greenhouse. These contain natural essences and ingredients that are less harsh and although you can buy these in-home stores, they are very easy to make at home from household ingredients such as soap, vinegar, lemon and salt (an excellent option of you are also trying to garden on a budget). The downsides are that you will need to thoroughly cover the area and consider the mixtures that you make as different strains of weeds will need different treatments.
Remember the guy who shrunk his kids and had to search for them in his lawn? Would have been a heck of a lot easier if he had recently mowed his lawn...Mowing your lawn on a regular basis is the best thing you can do to encourage a healthy, thick, lawn. A real straightforward element to this tip is to always mow your lawn on a dry day. So, now that has been established (believe me, it does need to be said) we can move on to the frequency of how often you should be mowing your lawn and how regular we really mean.
It has to be said that too much mowing can be unhealthy for your lawn and produce an unsightly and barren mess that isn’t much better than an overgrown jungle; there is a treasured rule of ‘one-third’ where each time you mow you only cut (you guessed it) one-third of the grass’ total length. For most people in the UK this will be around every two weeks during Autumn and Winter, once every 7 – 10 days as Spring increases the growth and even increasing to as many times as twice weekly in Summer, The length of your lawn, arguably, could be dependent on your preference but a good standard to stick to is between two and three centimeters.
Those attractive lawn stripes your neighbor has? Well, the effect is created by the direction the blades of grass are cut in, creating an impression when the light hits that there are stripes in the lawn. Budget permitting, we advise a cordless electric mower, to achieve these lawn patterns as they will reduce time and enable you to maneuver your lawn easier.
You start by mowing your lawn in each direction, mowing a full course before turning back on yourself and mowing in a straight line beside your previous path. Eventually, when you have completed your lawn, the vision is completed by mowing the perimeter of the lawn to create a tidy appearance.
Now you know how achievable this is you might be tempted to rush out and begin mowing the lawn but be warned that the effect will be greatly dampened by any patches – so make sure you thicken those up first with our other tips!
When figuring out what is happening to their lawn's many people are unaware of a little pest that encourages animals and birds to come into your garden and tear up your lawn. Okay, the neighbor's cat is probably still doing it specifically to your lawn out of spite for that one time you stepped on their tail, but the reality is that it is more likely Chafer Grubs are encouraging birds (Magpies, Rooks and Jays) to come in for an all you can eat buffet.
Garden and Welsh Chafer Grubs are little soil-dwelling larvae of Chafer beetles. They have stout white bodies, light brown heads and three pairs of legs. They also have darker patches on the abdomen. Establishing whether you have these little pests sooner, rather than later, will make a huge difference if you have been noticing scruffy tufts of lawn with pieces pulled out by animals and birds (searching for grubs to eat!).
The grubs typically appear around September to April, with damage to lawns being most obvious during Spring when the grubs start reaching maturity where they can be as large as 18mm in length! These grubs are considered pests because they damage the actual roots of the grass, in effect killing the lawn.
Prevention is key! Once you have a Chafer Grub infestation in your lawn you have three options; identify effected areas and replace shallow tufts where feasible, repair the damaged lawn by re-sowing with grass seed or you can buy something named ‘pathogenic nematodes’. Outside of that there is currently no pest control measures available – but the good news is that they are attracted to poorly maintained lawns than those that receive regular attention through watering, feeding and moss prevention. But if you ever needed an incentive to keep up the effort then Chafer Grubs are that incentive.
Wait! I have Grubs, what is pathogenic nematodes? Buckle up because there are over 20,000 classified species of nematode and they can be either beneficial, or harmful. They are microscopic worms that act as parasites on insects, plants and animals. With just one handful of soil containing thousands of these powerful little biological control worms. These microscopic animals are simply watered into the lawn when the ground is moist (ideally with temperatures between 12-20ºC). They attack the Chafer Grub by using a bacterial disease to infect the larvae; the result is fatal to the Chafer Grub. Although you can use Pathogenic Nematodes in July and September to help prevent infestations, you need to ensure the water is suitably moist and the temperature is correct in order to ensure activity and survival.