Spring Lawn Care
As I opened the back door on a beautiful early Spring morning, the topic of spring lawn care was immediately in my mind. As the snow is melting away, the days getting longer and warmer, and there are even some mornings when there is no frost on the ground, we can be sure that Spring, long awaited, has finally decided to make an appearance. Finally, the idea of playing football on the lawn and doing a bit of gardening outdoors instead of just in the greenhouse or inside is becoming a reality. But, oh shock! The lawn looks awful - as does, incidentially, the whole garden!
I sincerely hope for your sake that your garden is in better shape than mine this spring; not only does it look as though it has been neglected for years, but there are broken branches from a recent storm scattered around the place and mole hills have mysteriously spread across about 1/3 of the football and play area. But never mind, this is what all the energy the newly emerged sun gives us is for: preparing the garden for the next 6-8 months when it will be our main outdoor living space. And it really is not too bad a job, quite enjoyable at times and with a little help from our children, quite managable.
So what can we do to help our lawn along?
Spring Lawn Care the Kids can Help With:
Picking up fallen branches
Raking up the leaves and other debris and popping them on the compost heap.
Sowing fresh grass seed.
Applying and brushing in top dressing.
Applying lawn feed or lawn sand using a spreader.
Raking up leaves and clearing debris – The first task for spring lawn care is to gently rake up any remaining leaves and other smaller debris, eg left over additions to snowmen built during the winter. Larger branches such as we have in our garden (we are surrounded by woodland) can be used effectively for burning in the log burner or open fire during the evenings which are still a little chilly, being turned into mulch for the borders, or just plonking in a corner of the garden which you have reserved as a wildlife garden area. Providing your child with kiddie-sized lawn rake will ensure they don't get discouraged trying to rake leaves up with a full-sized and - for them - rather cumbersome tool. Garden debris can be put in the green bin in the UK, but an even better alternative is to put them on your own compost heap. Quick Tip: only rake gently - you don't want to risk damaging the emerging grass!
Mowing the lawn. There are very few areas where there is any need to mow the lawn before about March (possibly the Silly Isles?), but even in March there is not much mowing to do. One good idea as part of the spring lawn care is to gently settle the turf by rolling it before the first mowing. And in our case at least, scatter the mole hills evenly over the lawn with a rake, and then rolling! The first cut of the year should only be undertaken once you can see that the grass is beginning to grow (it looks greener and a little longer?), and then mow it gently on the highest possible setting on your lawn mower. Very rarely spring lawn care will involve more than mowing the lawn more than twice during the whole of March. In April just keep an eye on how fast the grass is growing and again start with the mower at the highest setting - ideally you don't want the grass any shorter than about an inch. In May the frequency of mowing can increase and the height of the mower can decrease.
Weed and Moss Killers and Lawn Feeds. Feeding lawns and applying weed and moss killer can usually start toward the end of April if you are in a milder area, or the beginning of May in more chilly climates (thinking the Orkneys here!). The two main ways of tackling moss are either by applying lawn sand and brushing it in evenly, then raking up the dried out moss a few weeks later, or using a combination of weed and moss killer with lawn feed, such as the Evergreen Complete Triple Action Weed and Moss Killer and Lawn Feed - this one is easy to apply because it comes with its own applicator. Most other Weed and Moss killers are usually applied with a watering can.
KEEP ALL WEED KILLERS AWAY FROM CHILDREN.
If you are trying to keep your garden organic (which is much better for the wildlife and the children!), your best bet to control the weeds in the lawn is to strengthen the grass as much as possible so that it is stronger than the weeds! This can be helped along by feeding the lawn with a spring lawn feed.
Spring and Summer lawn feeds are NOT the same as the ones used during the autumn. They contain more nitrogen which encourages fresh green growth. If you have only a small lawn, then it is easy enough to spread the feed by hand, but if you have a larger area or just enjoy using tools, then use a lawn feed spreader to make the job easier for yourself and fun for the kids.
Scarifying and aerating. Is one aspect of lawn care which is NOT needed during the spring or summer, so take the afternoon off instead and enjoy watching the spring bulbs emerge with a cup of tea! If you want to know more about scarifying and aerating anyway, check out the page on autumn lawn care!
Adult only Spring Lawn Care activities:
Mowing the lawn
Applying weed killer
Top dressing is really part of autumn lawn care, especially if you have earth which tends to have too much clay, but during the spring there is no problem in just gently brushing in a mixture of lawn sand and loam evenly. In our case, redistributing the earth the moles have kindly dug up for us with a bit of sand does the trick wonderfully!
Patchy lawns. If, like us, you have patches of lawn which need to be reseeded - due to over-enthusiastic moles for instance or not moving the trampoline regularly enough, then part of your spring lawn care will also include preparing and seeding sparse patches. Check out the page on patchy lawns.
Watering. During the last few years we have been having particularly dry Mays, so if this is the case this year too, then it is a good idea to keep an eye on the lawn and give it a bit of a sprinkling if it is showing signs of distress, eg yellowing or browning patches or just not growing as well as it might if the weather were a bit moister. However, if we do have another lovely warm, dry May, just enjoy it!
And finally, if all this spring lawn care, or the general upkeep of the lawn generally seems just too much like hard work or too time consuming - and let's face it, if you have children, time is always an issue - then find a local gardener, print this page out for him or her, and let them deal with it all while you decide which veggies to grow first!
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