The arrival of spring is probably more welcome this year than ever after the wettest winter on record. The buds are finally coming out as the ground gradually dries out and warms up. The soil is now in a good state to dig, still retaining sufficient moisture to support seedlings and baby plants get a hold in the ground and soak up the right nutrients. With so much to do, where is a good place to start? Perhaps tackle the biggest and most tricky first – the lawn?
If your lawn was flooded or waterlogged over the winter then it will need help to recover. The excess water will have filled any air pockets and pores so that the oxygen may not reach the roots to get the grass growing so aerating your lawn is essential.
The simplest and most cost effective way of doing this is by simply poking holes in the lawn using a garden fork. If you have a large area of lawn then clearly this will be laborious and time consuming. However, there are gadgets on the market to help.
Lawn aerating rakes and rollers which run over the surface which are quite effective. For a more novel way to aerate your lawn, how about a pair of lawn aerator sandals? These are literally a pair of sandals with spikes on the soles which you strap to your feet and then aerate the lawn by simply walking around!
Lawns are actively growing in the spring but so are the weeds and the moss so this is the time of year to ensure the grass gets ahead. Once the danger of frosts has passed, usually around mid April, it’s a good idea to give your lawn a feed treatment to encourage the grass to outwit the weeds and take a stronger hold.
Many gardeners have used ‘weed and feed’ treatments in the past but as more turn to organic methods the weed and moss killer may no longer be appropriate. However, there are some effective organic fertilisers on the market which will give the blades of grass a great start.
There is no substitute for weeding so if the weeds are removed, they won’t be able to take over. Use of a lawn scarifier or lawn rake will effectively drag up them up so the grass has room both above and below the ground to grow. Using a manual scarifier is hard work, especially over a wide area so investing in an electric lawn rake could be worthwhile. In fact, some lawn mowers have scarifier and aeration functions built in.
The winter rains may well have left bald patches on the lawn so now is the time to fill those in. Once you have scarified and raked your lawn, now is the fun part of sowing fresh lawn seed. Choose a tough, hard wearing variety suited to your garden.
If you have lots of trees go for a variety which will thrive in the shade. If your garden is likely to remain boggy over the summer, find a seed that will cope with wetter conditions. Sow about 10-15 grams per square metre, as evenly as possible or by using a pull along lawn spreader which will do the job for you.
Once you’ve sown the seed, make sure it has time to take hold so avoid walking over it. Using a wire mesh or putting up a temporary barrier is a good way to stop your family accidentally walking over it. While it is hard to keep pets off, if the mesh is quite fine most cats and dog will stay away.
For badly damaged areas, new turf may be needed and spring is the ideal time to lay it. Buy your turf from a specialist garden centre or turf supplier so that you know it will have been well nurtured. Once it arrives, prepare the soil as you would do for sowing seed by digging it over, leaving the section to be patched flat and finely raked with a sprinkling of organic fertiliser. Water the soil then roll out the turf. Then keep it regularly watered but not over watered until it takes a hold.
Finally all lawns need careful mowing to keep them looking tidy and healthy. The range of mowers available is impressive from hover mowers, electric, petrol, battery operated and manual devices which require no power but do the job such as effectively. Choose a mower that is right for your garden. Make sure the first mow of the season is on a high setting so you don’t give the grass too much of a shock.
Lawns do need a certain amount of TLC but the effort is well worth it. Once the initial spring jobs are out of the way, other than mowing there will be little else to do than sit back and enjoy it.