The Carpet in your Garden – Spring Lawn Tasks was inspired by St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland.
St Patricks Day is March 17th, and the country of Ireland is often referred to as the Emerald Isle because of its lush green countryside.
Four leaf clovers are lucky plants for the Irish but rather than write about shamrocks and four leaf clovers, I’ve written about the emerald carpet in your garden – the great British lawn.
Ah yes, The Great British Lawn; if you’re getting the mower out this weekend, keep the first cut 4mm or more high. Or is the lawn not in a fit state for mowing?
Lawns can take a lot of damage over the winter. The weather varies from wet to freezing and surrounding trees and other deciduous plants dump leaf litter all over the grass, inspecting your lawn in the early spring can be a dispiriting sight.
So what are the spring lawn tasks that you may need to do?
The most apparent, but easily remedied problem will be the leaf litter, if you weren’t able to sweep it all up in the autumn. Simply grab a soft plastic rake and get to it. Leaves make great compost and mulch for your garden: read how to make some here. You could also add the leaves to your compost bin to counteract too much moisture, kitchen waste and grass.
Once the leaves are swept and cut, you may notice your lawn is more moss than grass, or contains large swathes of dead dry grass. If so, you need to ‘scarify’ your lawn. This is where the layer of ‘thatch’ that develops from dead grass stems and moss is ripped out by using a hard metal rake or scarifying machine. Periodically reducing the thatch in your lawn is important, as a depth of more than 2cm will start to suppress the growth of grass stems, allowing weeds and moss to triumph. If scarifying by hand, mentally split the lawn up into 2m x 2m blocks, as this helps to focus your efforts – it can be hard work! This task is best done when the lawn is as dry as possible.
Once you have finished scarifying your lawn, aeration is the next task to be done. This is where a garden fork or special tool is used to punch thin but deep holes into the lawn, allowing the free flow of air and moisture in the soil, and aid in surface water drainage. There are revolving aerators which work by being pushed along by the user, but I have found these to be ineffectual in practise as they do not penetrate far enough into the ground. However, you can hire mechanical aerators which are effective, and recommended for severely compacted lawns. You should be aiming for at least 5cm depth into the soil.
After all this, your lawn will probably look pretty bare – the perfect opportunity to re-seed and fertilise your lawn. There are grass seed mixes for most types of lawn; a mix predominantly containing rye grass will be harder-wearing. Liberally apply grass seed to any bare areas – and water twice day morning and evening if the weather is dry. Do not walk on or mow these areas for up to 2 months to allow the new seedlings to establish themselves properly. You should see new shoots after 8-14 days.
The nitrogen required for new green growth can be applied to your lawn as a feed A lawn feed from any recognised brand specified for spring/summer application would suit, as it’ll contain the nitrogen required for new green growth. Apply as directed by the manufacturer. A self sustaining alternative would be to grow some four leaf clover in among the grass. Growing some nitrogen-fixing clover will improve the overall health of the grasses within the lawn.