Your pristine flower beds. That gorgeous porch furniture. A delightful set of garden lights. And a dead lawn.
Not really the ideal picture you want to sketch of your exteriors now, is it? A beautiful façade will only boost your house’s aesthetics that high before an ugly yard yanks it back down. It is true that a lush, green lawn is one of the most desirable features of a house and garden, yet some of us struggle day in and day out with achieving this.
And when that lovely green shade refuses to appear, most of us just throw some more fertiliser on the ground and pray that, this time, it’ll do the trick.
Have you ever thought that, just maybe, Mother Nature does not have it in for you? And that perhaps you are the cause for your grass not growing?
Let’s see some common mistakes you may be guilty of when it comes to nurturing a grassy green lawn.
Winter is generally when we worry the least about our lawns. However, there are a few TLC tips you can do during even the harshest winter to ensure a lush lawn come spring time.
Before the first freeze, give your lawn a thorough fertilising to replace all of the nutrients that can be lost from the soil during summer. The fertiliser will remain in the soil and feed your lawn’s roots all winter long.
Keep your sidewalks and paving cleared of ice and snow so that you and your guests won’t be tempted to cut across the yard too often. And never allow anyone to park their car on your lawn.
It can be easy to leave items on the lawn during the long, cold winter when we don’t venture outside too often. Leaving an object on the grass during cold weather and snowfall can create large dead spots of the object’s weight. Therefore, clear that lawn of all stray logs, toys or lawn furniture after you mow it for the last time of the year. And do an occasional sweep every few weeks during winter.
Mow your grass at a length of 9-10cm (this is usually the highest setting on mowers). Taller grass shades the ground, blocking weed sprouts and promoting beneficial microbes. Leaving the grass tall also allows your lawn to focus on root growth, which adds disease resistance.
If you hate the look of a tall lawn, you may reduce the height to as low as 5cm. Some grass species handle this better than others, but all prefer about 7.5cm or taller.
Never remove more than ⅓ of the grass height at a time. This may mean that you will need to cut some lawns every two or three days in spring to keep them at the right height.
homify hint: Leave those grass clippings where they fall – they can supply 25% of your fertiliser as they decompose, so don’t rake them up or use a bag on your lawnmower.
Mowing your lawn with dull or nicked lawnmower blades actually tears the grass and does not leave a clean cut (usually called “white tipping”). Mowing with a dull mower blade will leave the grass appearing with light-coloured tips and looking dry. This, in turn, will cause many homeowners to think that they must water the grass or add fertiliser to get that green colour back. A torn or ripped blade of grass is also more prone to disease and insect damage.
So, rather sharpen those lawnmower blades at the start of each season and check periodically (after every 10 hours or so of mowing) to make sure they remain sharp.
homify hint: Never mow a wet lawn. The slippery grass could cause an accident, and some mowers will not work as efficiently if the grass blades are wet and smooth.
When and how often you should apply fertiliser to your lawn depends on the type of grass you grow. Grass requires nitrogen and other nutrients during its seasons of active growth, and it grows best with an even supply.
But fertilising grass when it’s naturally dormant means you’re wasting fertiliser. And if you space your applications too far apart, your grass can grow fine for a while, then slow down, and then speed up again with the next application.
Rather fertilise your lawn about once every six to eight weeks during their active growth period. Simply break up the yearly requirement of nitrogen into the appropriate number of applications (about one or two in spring and two or three in autumn for cool-season grasses, three over the summer for warm-season grasses).
If high-maintenance lawn care is not for you, fertilise once in spring and once in autumn for cool-season grasses, and once in early summer and once in late summer for warm-season grasses.This will also provide you with a decent-enough lawn.
Moss can be a temporary problem following drought or waterlogging, or more persistent, which can suggest a problem with underlying conditions.
Remove loose moss in autumn by scarification (vigorous raking). On small lawns this can be done by hand, raking out the moss with a spring-tine rake. With larger lawns, mechanical scarifiers can be hired.
For moss control, use a proprietary product, such as those based on ferrous sulphate (sulphate of iron) in spring or early autumn. And when the moss blackens after two or three weeks, use a spring-tine rake to remove it.
homify hint: Killing and removing the moss is just the start. To remain moss-free, the vigour of the grass must be improved and any contributory factors taken care of. Good autumn lawn maintenance is essential to maintaining lawn health. If, despite your best actions, moss remains a problem (such as under trees or in a poorly-drained site), consider alternatives to grass. Bear in mind, though, that artificial turf may also suffer from problems with moss and other green growths.
This may come as a surprise, but over-watering your lawn causes more damage than under-watering it. Most grasses require 2.5-4cm of water per week, which is enough to moisten the soil to 10-15cm below the surface for clay soils, and 20-25cm for sandy soils.
Don’t guess at how much water your lawn is getting. To measure Mother Nature’s contribution, invest in a rain gauge. If she has contributed enough after a week, you don’t need to. If she hasn't, simply add some supplemental watering. And measure how much water your sprinkler is adding to your grass.
Should there be water bans in your area, follow local regulations, but remember that less water is acceptable and that grass is a very resilient plant.
Now that you’re on your way to a green lawn and garden, it’s time to think about: Garden Features Your Kids Will Love!