How to Care for Your Lawn
A verdant lawn makes a wonderful foil for flower borders and creates an emerald focal point in winter when color is in short supply. There are different types of turf for different situations but all lawns benefit from regular mowing, and care and attention in the spring and autumn.
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Mow grass whenever it is growing, provided the ground isn't too wet or icy to walk on. In spring, mow once a week with the blades at their highest setting, and gradually lower them as growth accelerates. Use a box to collect the clippings, which can be composted, or use a "mulching mower" which doesn't remove the grass but chops it into fine pieces, returning nutrients to the lawn. Rake off thick patches of clippings, which will damage the turf. In summer, a high-quality lawn may need cutting three times a week, but in autumn, as growth slows, once or twice a week should suffice.
In dry periods, water newly laid turf, freshly sown areas, and high-quality lawns. Leave established lawns unwatered, but stop mowing because longer grass helps protect the roots. The grass may turn brown, but will recover once it rains.
Water a new lawn every week in dry spells, until it is established. You can tell when fine lawns need watering because they lose their spring when walked on. Reduce water evaporation by using sprinklers early in the morning or at night. Move seep hoses by 8 inches every half hour.
The amount of fertilizer you need to maintain lush green grass depends on how rich the underlying soil is, and if you occasionally leave the clippings on the lawn, which help top up the soil nutrients. Apply granular or liquid lawn fertilizer at least once a year. Spring and early summer feeds are high in nitrogen to boost leaf growth; products for use in early autumn are low in nitrogen but high in potassium to aid grass roots in winter. Do not overfeed because it can result in weak growth and fungal problems.
Divide the lawn into a grid of yard squares using stakes. Apply fertilizer at the rate according to the package. Rent a calibrated spreader for large lawns, and water if it doesn't rain within three days after feeding.
Acidic lawns are prone to moss and weed growth. Check soil pH in winter, and raise it by applying ground chalk or limestone at a rate of 2 ounces per 10 square foot. Apply a lawn weedkiller in spring or summer, and repeat in early autumn. Organic gardeners can grub out creeping buttercups, daisies, and tap-rooted weeds, like dandelions, using an old knife.