Spring Care for Established Lawns

Re-seed worn areas in the lawn, first leveling any depressions and providing a fine tilth. Follow the instructions given for seeding a new lawn.

A typical mechanical scarifier Continue aerating the lawn, raking it vigorously a number of times in directions at right angles to each other. This will help to scatter worm casts, remove dead grass, debris and moss, and allow air and water to enter the surface of the turf. This treatment is important to maintain a healthy turf surface and aid drainage, so that rain is not allowed to remain on the surface and become absorbed by the debris, creating conditions ideal for disease. Some of the local hire shops now stock mechanical scarifiers which are far less hard work!

Fertiliser Dressing
Towards the end of the month, if the weather is warm, apply a spring fertiliser, preferably using a hand distributor set to provide an even application at the correct rate. Uneven application will produce local scorching and an uneven growth of grass. We keep a range of Scotts feeds which are perfect for this purpose.

Straightening Edges
To cut a clean, straight edge where border and lawn meet, place a plank (a scaffold board is ideal) on the grass beside the border, stand on this, and cut the grass with an edging tool, using the plank as a guide and sloping the cut away from you slightly to prevent crumbling.

To straighten a wavering edge, lay a garden line tautly in the correct position. Cut away a 3-9 in. strip of lawn and move this level with the line. Fill in the bare space left with sifted soil and grass seed, level, and firm with your feet.

Where a lawn edge has crumbled or become worn, cut out the damaged area as a square or rectangle and turn it round so that there is sound turf at the edge. Sow grass seed on the bare patch and cover lightly with sifted soil.

First Spring Mowing
Cut the grass when it is about 21/2-3 in. high, setting the blades high. The weather should be dry. First scatter any worm casts with a cane or rake. Check the mower for correct adjustment and ensure that the blades are sharp; this is essential to produce an even cut. Always mow with the box on at this time of year, as cuttings left on the turf surface will encourage disease.

Fusarium patch disease can occur at this time of the year and may be recognised by collapsed areas of fawncoloured, waterlogged, dead grass which develop under damp conditions. Sometimes the patches, which may be from 1 to 12 in. in diameter, fuse and a fine pinky-white mass of fungal threads develops over the patch. It is an indication that drainage and general turf management need improving.

Worms may also be troublesome at this time of the year, throwing up a large number of casts on the surface. Control with a proprietary brand of worm killer.

Selective Weedkillers
A variety of selective weedkillers and lawn dressings will control most lawn weeds. Apply one or two weeks after the spring fertiliser application. Many lawn weeds, including creeping buttercups, plantains, dandelions and daisies, can be eliminated with one, or at most two, applications.
Others, such as pearlwort, clover and ragwort, may sometimes require double doses and/or repeated applications.

To get the best effect, apply selective weedkillers during periods of active growth in damp, warm conditions, and take care that they do not drift on to vegetable or flower beds, where crops and plants can be damaged or killed. Also watch if the weather is suddenly dry, you may have to lightly irrigate to prevent scorching by the lawn dressings.

Controlling Moss
If you have significant amounts of moss in your lawn, this is generally a symptom of poor physical conditions, such as waterlogging and compaction of the turf, and indicates that attention should be paid to better drainage, aeration and general management. However we do keep lawn dressings with moss control for swards with normal levels of moss.