Keep your grass looking green and healthy
A good lawn brings all the elements of your garden together and creates a perfect area for relaxation and fun - for children of all sizes. And with just a little effort, it can look lush and green all year round.
The task of looking after a lawn varies with the seasons as well as the weather. There's little to do in winter, but as the weather warms up, it's time to start readying your lawn for the summer ahead. We'll take you through what to do to get the best from your lawn - from tips on how to remove moss and weeds, how and when to feed it and how to mow most effectively to create a lawn that will be the envy of all your friends.
Tools & materials required
How to scarify and aerate your lawn
How to scarify your lawn
You might need:
Moss acts like a sponge, preventing light, water and nutrients from reaching the roots of the grass. Thatch, which consists of layers of dead grass and moss, must also be removed to maintain a healthy lawn, through a process known as scarifying.
Scarifying can be achieved using a garden rake (look for ones with spring tines) or power up with a lawnrake (also known as a scarifier). These use blades to cut out both thatch and moss. Scarifiers help give you a firmer lawn because they allow air, water and nutrients to get to the soil.
Scarify your lawn vigorously in the spring and autumn.
How to aerate your lawn
You might need:
Aerating, or spiking, your lawn improves drainage and stimulates growth by allowing air to get to the roots. Do it in the spring and the autumn for best results, as well as if your lawn is getting compacted.
You can spike with a garden fork, but it’s quicker and easier to do it with a specially designed multi-prong rolling aerator.
Add a top dressing to further improve drainage and grass growth. If your lawn is prone to water logging, apply a top layer of lawn sand, whereas if your lawn is more likely to suffer from drought, choose a peat-based top dressing.
How to mow and edge your lawn
You might need:
- Lawnmower - check out our buyer's guide to help you find the right lawnmower for your garden
- Grass trimmer
- Lawn edging shears or grass shears
- Lawn edger
- Lawn roller
- Lawn edging
How to mow your lawn
Your lawn will need regular mowing as soon as it starts to grow, this is usually from late spring until autumn. Set the blades high for the first few cuts and reduce the cut size gradually. In the heat of summer it’s best to let the grass grow a bit longer so it retains moisture and in the late autumn months a longer lawn will be less vulnerable to frost damage.
Mowing in the same direction every time compacts the soil and makes the grass lean in that direction. Avoid this by changing your pattern every few weeks. As a result, your grass will be healthier and more upright, helping you achieve a cleaner cut. To get a striped lawn effect either use a mower with an integrated roller or, for a perfect finish, invest in a lawn roller.
How to tidy your lawn's edges
It's often tricky to cut the edges of your lawn with a mower, and thankfully there are both power and hand tools available to make light work of the job. For larger areas, look for grass trimmers that have an edging facility. Or, if tackling smaller projects, opt for a lawn edging shears or grass shears - we recommend long-handled ones for extra comfort.
An edging iron (also known as a half-moon edger) is ideal for cutting turf and reshaping lawn edges – use it with a rocking, sawing motion as you press down to cut.
Or if you want a more permanent solution to maintaining neat edges to your lawn, install some edging. Available in a variety of styles from traditional log roll to bamboo, miniature picket fencing to moulded plastic, it adds attractive detailing while being low on maintenance.
How to weed your lawn
You might need:
- Lawn weedkiller
- Lawn feed with weed and mosskiller
- Watering can
- Garden tub for weed collecting
- Incinerator to dispose of pulled weeds
- Gardening gloves
- Store pesticides away from pets and children.
- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Keep children and pets off the lawn during treatment and for a few days afterwards.
- Check all spray bottles and packets are securely fastened.
- Don't store garden chemicals in unmarked containers and only buy what you need for one year.
- Don't use pesticides near any growing fruit and vegetables.
- Always wear gardening gloves when treating weeds, and wash hands thoroughly after use.
- Don't put any garden chemicals down a main drain or waste water drainage system - even when diluted, it is illegal.
- Ask your local council for advice on how to dispose of unwanted pesticides or empty containers.
Even if you love having wild plants in your garden, certain weeds will need to be dealt with, or they’ll take over your lawn. Daisies and dandelions might look innocent enough, but they need to be removed – it’s the same with trefoils, plantain, chickweed, speedwell, clover, buttercups and thistles.
Hand-weeding is fine if there aren’t too many – or if very deep-rooted, use a weed puller to yank them out. Alternatively, weeds can be spot-treated with a ready-to-use weedkiller. Be sure to use a lawn weedkiller only, as any other kind will kill the grass. And why not save time by sprinkling your lawn with a combined weed and lawn feed?
Use lawn weedkillers in spring when the weeds are growing at their fastest, but before they start to flower. If the weather’s been dry, give your lawn a good soaking the day before you intend to treat it – water again if there’s no rain for a couple of days after you’ve treated it.
And if you’re a composter, don’t keep the clippings from the first four mowings, as otherwise the weedkiller will become part of your compost and could be harmful to any plants that you use it on in the future. Instead, throw away your clippings or burn them instead.
For more information on tackling weeds and choosing the right weedkiller, check out how how to guide.
How to feed your lawn
You might need:
- Lawn feed - use if your lawn is weed free
- Lawn feed with moss and weedkiller - use if your lawn has weeds and moss
- Watering can or sprayer
- Lawn spreader
- Follow the instructions on the packaging before adding feed to your lawn.
- Be sure to keep your children and pets away – both while feeding your lawn and immediately afterwards.
Lawn feed is vital to keep your lawn lush and green, and usually you’ll only need to do it once in spring and once in autumn (feeding it in the dry conditions of summer could burn the grass).
The spring feed should be high in nitrogen to kick-start the growth of new grass and we recommend granular options for the slow release of key nutrients. In summer, use a liquid feed to quickly green up the lawn. While in the autumn, lawn feed needs to be high in potassium and phosphorus to see the grass through the winter months.
If you've got a small lawn, just scatter granular seed by hand or apply liquid feed with a watering can or sprayer. Bigger lawns are best fed using granular feed in a wheeled spreader: these cover large areas quickly and ensure you’re using the correct amount of feed.
Always feed your lawn on a dry day but make sure the ground itself isn't too dry - water it first if necessary. And try to feed the lawn when you kill the weeds so you don't leave any bald patches.