Green, healthy grass can transform the overall appearance of your garden.
But, keeping your lawn looking lush takes care and regular upkeep; if neglected, it won’t be long until it’s patchy, brown, or even dead. With so many things to remember, knowing where to start can be tricky.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through our top tips for keeping your lawn looking healthy and how to care for it during different seasons so your grass can flourish for years to come.
- Top tips for keeping your grass looking healthy
- How to care for your lawn during winter
- How to care for your lawn during hot weather
Top tips for keeping your grass looking healthy
1. Mow your lawn regularly
Mowing your lawn often will promote new strong growth, resulting in healthy-looking grass. However, the time of the year will alter how regularly you should be cutting your lawn, as grass grows at a faster rate in summer than in winter.
- Spring — Once temperatures start to rise and your grass begins to grow again, you can begin cutting your lawn once a week. Read our guide to learn more about preparing your lawn and garden for spring.
- Summer — Grass should be cut once or twice a week during the warmer months to maintain growth and keep it looking healthy. Just be careful not to overcut your grass; too much trimming when dry can cause damage, making it more susceptible to disease.
- Autumn — Usually, your lawn will need cutting once a week during autumn. However, this will depend on the weather; autumn rain can increase growth, so you may need to cut more regularly.
- Winter — Mowing in winter is not usually needed, as growth usually comes to a stop. If the weather is mild and the grass is still growing, you may need to trim it with a mower.
Remember to keep checking on your lawn to see how it’s looking. These rough guidelines may change depending on the weather.
2. Make sure your lawn mower blades are sharp
Your mower blades must be sharp to ensure the grass is cut cleanly, as dull blades could rip it from the ground. This could lead to your lawn browning, withering or infection.
Blades should be sharpened once or twice a year, depending on how often you use your lawn mower. It’s best to take your mower to your local DIY store so they can check over them and sharpen for you.
3. Don’t cut your grass too short
If your lawn is cut very short, there is less leaf area to take in oxygen and sunlight, slowing root development.
By mowing your lawn on a low setting, the blade could even damage the crowns of the grass plants. This would weaken the lawn, increasing the threat from weeds, insects, and disease. Even if you avoid physical damage, short grass provides little shade, exposing your lawn to damaging summer heat or frost in winter.
For a healthy lawn, we recommend cutting your grass by around 25% of growth during one mow and setting your mower to leave around three centimetres of length.
4. Water Often
Although it may seem obvious, the key ingredient to healthy grass is water — it won’t survive without it!
If you live in the UK, you’ll know rain here is often. Therefore, you might not have to worry about watering your lawn; it will probably be able to retain moisture naturally from the soil.
For dryer spells that we typically see in the warm summer months, aim to give your grass a good soak once a week — around an inch of water per week is best for optimal growth. Any more than this, and the grassroots may not go further down into the soil looking for water, resulting in a shallow-rooted, weak lawn.
5. Avoid walking on your lawn
Walking on your grass can cause it to compact, especially in wet weather. This can result in waterlogging — when water sits on the lawn surface, with the soil or roots unable to absorb it. As a result, grass plants may not be getting the essential nutrients and air, resulting in a dry or wilted lawn.
Although it isn’t always possible — especially when you have kids and pets — refrain from walking on your lawn as much as possible to avoid this.
6. Aerate your lawn
Aerating your lawn can prevent soil compaction, improving drainage and the flow of nutrients, air, and water to the grass root.
Signs that your soil is compacted and may need aerating include:
- A layer or pools of water on the top of your lawn
- Your soil feels hard
- Your lawn is thinning, wilting, or turning brown
To aerate your lawn, simply spike it with a garden fork as deep as possible, targeting particularly compact areas. You could fill any holes with sand to prevent weeds.
This process is best done in early spring at the beginning of the growing season, giving your grass time to recover. Remember to avoid aerating during the peak of summer or winter, as this may cause damage to your lawn when it’s at its most vulnerable.
7. Fertilise the lawn
Feeding your lawn around four times a year will encourage strong growth and keep it in good condition. Doing this regularly will also prevent disease, weeds, and pests.
Applying fertiliser in autumn will prepare your grass for harsh weather conditions in winter, as well as increase recovery time if damaged. Spring is also a great time to feed your lawn to help it recover after winter and provide all the nutrients needed during the growing season for thick, dense grass.
The steps to fertilise your lawn are as follows.
- Prepare your lawn
Make sure you have mowed, aerated, and removed any weeds or leaves from your lawn before fertilising. If your grass appears dry, you may also want to water it the night before fertilising to help the lawn to absorb the nutrients.
- Apply the fertiliser
A spreader will help you to apply the right amount of fertiliser evenly. Or, if you have a liquid fertiliser, it can be sprayed onto your grass. This is particularly good for patches of grass that need attention.
- Water your lawn
Watering your grass lightly with a hose after the application will help the fertiliser absorb into the soil. Or, you could try and time your fertilisation just before rainfall.
4. Begin the cycle again
You should fertilise your lawn around three to four times a year for the best results. Reading your fertiliser instructions and making a note of how long it lasts will help you achieve the right amount of time between feeds.
On average, slow-release fertilisers are effective for six to eight weeks, while fast-release products can be applied every four.
8. Scarify your lawn
Scarification is the removal of organic matter like moss and thatch from the surface of your lawn. Not sacrificing can lead to it drying and thickening, making it difficult for water and nutrients to pass through the soil to your grassroots. This could cause your lawn to dry out and suffocate.
A scarifier machine is needed to do the job, but it’s best to get a professional gardener in, as the process can get complicated. This is best done once or twice a year, depending on the condition of your lawn. If you notice decaying leaves forming on top of the surface or your lawn looking a yellowy colour, it could be time to scarify.
Early spring is the ideal time when growth is high, giving your lawn time to recover before summer. If you miss your chance in spring, you could scarify in autumn — just make sure you do it before temperatures drop too much to avoid damaging your lawn. Fertilising afterwards will also promote healthy growth and recovery.
How to care for your lawn in winter
Although there will be less gardening to do in winter, the following tips will help you keep your grass looking healthy come spring.
- Prepare before winter — Fertilising your lawn in autumn will allow the roots to strengthen, ready for cold conditions when they are most susceptible to damage.
- Mow on mild days — Mowing during icy conditions when the grass is frozen can damage the plant cells, possibly causing them to die. Growth tends to stop during winter, so cutting your lawn shouldn’t be required.
- Remove dead leaves from your lawn — Dead leaves can trap moisture on your grass, increasing the chances of fungal diseases like snow mould developing. This can kill patches of your lawn and cause lasting damage.
- Remove piling up snow — Snow mould also flourishes under ice or snow, so removing what you can will minimise the risk of development.
- Avoid walking on your grass during icy or snowy weather — Stepping on your lawn during these conditions can cause lasting damage to the frozen and delicate grass leaves.
- Treat snow mould — If you notice yellow or brown patches on your grass after the snow has melted, you may have snow mould. It’s best to get an expert in to treat it, however, applying trifloxystrobin can deal with small outbreaks to stop them from spreading.
How to care for your lawn during hot weather
Long periods of hot weather can lead to drought, so caring for your grass to help it maintain its moisture is important during this time. The following tips will help you keep your grass healthy in summer.
- Maintain healthy grass all year round — Taking care of your lawn by fertilising and watering when needed before summer will encourage strong, deep roots. This will ensure your grass is better equipped to reserve water during harsh conditions like drought.
- Keep off the grass — Avoiding walking on your lawn as much as possible will reduce the stress on your grass when it’s vulnerable to heat.
- Keep your grass longer — Longer grass will shade the soil, slowing down moisture loss, as well as protecting delicate grass plants. When mowing your lawn in summer, you may want to raise the height of the blade on your lawn mower to between five and ten centimetres.
- Reduce feeding — Avoid fertilising your dry lawn during hot conditions; nitrogen in the feed can react with your grass, burning and drying it out. Once it has rained enough that the ground is moist and the conditions have cooled, you can begin fertilising again.
- Remember to water — During hot weather grass is more prone to drying out and becoming brown. Remembering to water once a week once the sun has set will keep your lawn moist.
To learn more, read our guide on how to care for your garden in a heatwave.
Once you’ve learnt how to care for your lawn and understand what it needs during different conditions, maintaining a healthy, green lawn isn’t as difficult as it seems. For more expert gardening tips, take a look at our blog.