UK gardening help and assistance

Spring lawn care – encouraging your lawn to grow

During the winter your lawn has been dormant. After waiting out the worst of the weather, the first sign of spring will be a sudden realisation one morning that the lawn suddenly looks like it needs cutting! But frost, snow and wet weather can all take their toll on your lawn during the colder months, so now is the time to really get busy and start pampering your lawn to encourage fresh growth.

Check the health of your lawn

As soon as the warmer spring weather starts, the first job in your spring lawn care programme is to inspect the lawn. Look for brown patches of frost damage, particularly if the lawn has been walked on during the winter. These areas may need reseeding if the damage is extensive or, if the grass is just looking a little worse for wear, a general spring feed will help to encourage fresh growth.

Another problem during the winter, particularly if you are on a heavy clay soil, will be waterlogging, brown patches of dead or thin grass will indicate that the drainage in the lawn is not as good as it should be. Waterlogging starves the lawn’s roots of oxygen and nutrients, so aeration is an important part of your spring lawn care programme. For larger lawns you can use an aerator that will fit onto a standard lawnmower. If your lawn is a little smaller you can use an ordinary garden fork. Drive the prongs into the lawn and give the fork a little wiggle to break up the soil. This will allow air to start circulating around the roots and encourage them to grow.

Once you have inspected your lawn it’s time to start the first clean up of the year. During the winter your lawn will have accumulated a great deal of detritus on the surface including rotting leaves, moss and dead grass. All of this forms a ‘thatch’ between the base of the grass stems and the soil and can suffocate your lawn. As part of your spring lawn care programme, spend a day making sure that this thatch is removed to give your lawn the best possible start to the growing season.

Feeding your lawn

At different times of the year a lawn will require different types of feed to encourage root growth during the autumn or blade growth during the spring. Your lawn requires three specific minerals for healthy growth; nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. During the spring the most important food source for your lawn is nitrogen, as this helps encourage the grass blades to grow. A lawn that has a healthy level of nitrogen in the soil will be a deep green colour and you will notice rapid growth. Nitrogen should be applied when the grass is producing new growth, particularly during the spring and summer.

Phosphorus is required for root development. Without a strong root system your lawn could be vulnerable to stressful conditions that inhibit growth, such as drought, pests and diseases. Phosphorus should be applied in early spring or autumn, to ensure that the lawn is protected against drought conditions later on in the summer. Finally, potassium helps build resistance against drought and disease, so the best feed to give your lawn during your spring lawn care programme is a high nitrogen based feed. A slow release feed works particularly well and if you have any areas that need to be reseeded after winter damage, a slow release feed will encourage new growth to quickly spread across any bald patches.