Lawns are often the largest evergreen planting area in many gardens and with spring fast approaching your lawn needs to be in tip-top shape to cope with the summer traffic. From BBQs to picnics or the kids playing football, now the temperature is getting warmer and the grass shifts from its dormant stage to an actively growing one, how can you maximise what this season has to offer? Check out our handy guide to preparing your lawn and garden for spring.
How to prepare a lawn for spring
Any lawn is made up of thousands of individual plants that require care, feeding and maintenance like any other garden plant. Feeding, mowing and watering are key to beautiful lawns and a bit of spring housekeeping is the most obvious first job to get your lawn ready for the year ahead. Follow these simple steps as the weather warms up to prime your lawn:
1. Clear away debris
Now’s the time to clean up any fallen leaves, broken twigs, pinecones or loose stones that have risen to the surface. This helps the soil adequately absorb fertiliser and prevents the lawn mower from getting clogged up or the blades being damaged by running over loose stones.
2. Rake the surface
A good raking is enough for most small to medium-sized gardens whilst larger areas are best tackled with a leaf blower but watch out that stones aren’t sent flying and end up breaking windows.
3. Remove weeds and thatch
Get rid of any broadleaved weeds, moss or thatch.
Many gardeners might notice their lawns are covered with thatch, a dead layer of plant material that is normally caused by an over-application of fertiliser.
However, thatch is completely normal and healthy, although too much can prove damaging.
, Bear in mind different types of grass may be more prone to thatch than others. Dethatching your lawn should be done in spring or early autumn by firmly raking affected areas and combined with a good watering and fertilising regime.
4. Moss control
Lawn moss can be a good thing, it covers bare patches, especially in shade and is soft underfoot. However, too much moss can be a symptom of compacted or badly draining soil. If you have excess lawn moss it’s best removed by gentle raking or by applying eco-friendly moss remover which is available from good garden centres or online.
How to tune up the lawn mower
Spring is the perfect time to tune up your lawn mower. Give the blades, inner housing, and grass collection box a good clean with a stiff brush to get rid of dried dirt and grass or you can drop it into your local garden machinery workshop for a quick M.O.T.
When to first mow a lawn in spring
All good-looking lawns need regular weekly mowing from spring onwards, and often more as the weather grows reliably warmer. Many gardeners might be tempted to give lawns a fierce haircut after winter but you should aim to keep the same mowing height throughout the season. Mowing very close to the sward weakens grass growth and allows weeds to thrive. Generally, a height of 2.5 cm is more than adequate although a lawn that attracts a lot of wear might use a raised cut of 5 cm.
How to remove lawn weeds
It’s best to your lawn before feeding it otherwise you’ll be encouraging weeds to grow! Unfortunately, not all lawn weeds are equal, some will be annual weeds which are best hand-pulled as they are normally shallowly rooted. Perennial weeds such as dandelions can either be hand-weeded or use a spot-weed eradicator but be sure to be precise and spray the weed foliage only or else you’ll end up killing the surrounding grass.
When to feed the lawn in spring
A light spring feed is ideal for most lawns, the thing is not to overdo it with the fertiliser as it can lead to heavier weed growth. You can either use a fine layer of homemade compost over the grass or if you have a mulching mower, you can leave a light layer of clippings to naturally provide nitrogen to feed the lawn. Spring lawn fertiliser is available from most good garden centres or online.
Discover our full range of plant and garden fertilisers here.
How to overseed a lawn in spring
If you have scruffy bare patches from winter damage or dog-fouling you might need to reseed areas of the lawn that have died back. It’s very simple and relatively cheap to do and is best carried out in spring. Lawn patch repair kits are widely available that often contain slow-release fertiliser as well as seed, making this an effective quick-fix option for most gardeners.
How to fix dead patches of grass
In spring, cover bare patches with fresh compost and apply grass seed to the affected bald spots and apply grass seed to the area. Scratch the grass seed in with a small garden hand fork or you can even use a kitchen fork to distribute it more evenly and water it well.
How to fix compacted soil
Your lawn might have been spoiled by foot traffic or heavy garden machinery, suffered damage from snow and ice or might be badly drained. All these factors can contribute to compacted soil. Heavy clay soils are more prone to compaction than dry sand soils but are easily treatable by aerating the lawn with a garden fork. Working up and down the garden methodically, simply stabbing the lawn with a garden fork will create holes below the surface that will improve air circulation. When you’re finished, apply a suitable topdressing.
If your lawn is heavily compacted which is more prevalent on heavier soils, you can hollow tine the lawn. This works deeper than using a garden fork by removing narrow cores of soil and allowing air to circulate about the roots for healthy development. It’s advisable to topdress heavy soils after tining with sand or horticultural grit to prevent weed seeds falling into holes and topdress with suitable fertiliser.
How to manage snow mould
Aside from weeds which are the most common lawn problem most gardeners encounter
, after a cold winter especially when there has been regular snow, you may notice grey or straw-coloured patches. This is called snow mould and is where the grass has been damaged by snowfall.
The best solution is a gentle rake of the affected areas that will allow the grass to regenerate as there are no real effective fungicides available to home gardeners. If the patches don’t seem to improve some weeks later, the best option is to re-seed the damaged areas.
Read all about snow mould in our winter lawn care guide here.
To learn more about lawn care, read our guide to keeping your grass healthy all year round or visit the Hedges Direct Blog for more gardening advice.