BTAC’s Guide to Lawn Improvement
I’ve done my fair share of work on lawns of all types over the years – including my own! As an experienced sub-contractor in sports field and agricultural management, I’ve also carried out plenty of jobs that have either been focussed on improving pasture or things like football pitch maintenance. So, whether you have a large cricket pitch you need to breathe new life into, have a paddock which has taken too much damage over winter, or simply want some tips on how to get rid of unwanted moss in your front lawn, read on to benefit from some of my years of experience dealing with grass.
Springtime is the Time to Act
I know the winter of 2020-21 was wetter than normal because I was out in it for the most part. This means that the ground is still soft in some places. Although you might be worried about working it excessively in April, the time to get the best results is now, around Easter time. Why? Well, basically, if you leave it any longer to make a start on lawn improvement, then the ground is going to get too hard to work by hand and, what’s more, weeds will start to dominate. Therefore, the first thing I’d recommend is flailing and topping.
We offer this service professionally at BTAC for larger spaces but if you are talking about a domestic lawn then what it boils down to is your first cut of the year. Raise your mower’s blade up from its usual position such that the initial cut just takes the tips of the grass blades off. Professional flail mowing only takes out denser materials but the equivalent in domestic lawns is to promote grass growth at the expense of other plants which are pushing up to reach more sunlight. When it comes to lawns, moss will usually have established itself over the winter months. Use a metal rake to remove this and help the grass to dominate it. This method will also help to scarify the surface, something that will promote new growth, another beneficial outcome.
Feeding Your Lawn
Replenishing nutrients is essential to keep grass looking healthy, especially if you use it for pasture where minerals are being removed all the time by grazing animals, of course. There are lots of domestic lawn feeds on the market and I have no particular preference. Just remember to follow the instructions to the tee. Over-feeding is usually counter productive in my experience.
Turfing and Reseeding
If you have a patch of land which is being turned into a lawn for the first time or that has become sufficiently damaged such that you will begin from scratch, then the big decision is whether to turf or reseed. Buying turf is the more expensive option but you’ll get faster results. Bear in mind, however, that you will need to avoid standing on newly laid turf for at least three weeks until its roots have established themselves.
Scattering grass seed is slower but is preferable for repair work in an existing lawn because the seeds will often integrate better with the grass you currently have. When scattering seed over a lawn to improve it, make sure as much old, dead grass has been raked up as possible beforehand. With either approach, water liberally unless it rains which, in April, may well be the case, of course.
Until next time,