A lush, well-maintained lawn is the perfect green foil for colourful herbaceous borders, a great setting for summer picnics and even a foraging ground for birds and other wildlife. We show you how to keep your lawn looking its best all year round.
How to care for your lawn
Regularly mowing your lawn will help promote lush, green growth. Nip out weeds like dandelions when you see them to stop them competing with the grass and scatter grass seed into bare patches to get them growing again. Use stored rainwater and grey water to water your lawn in dry summers to stop it going brown. Spike the turf with a fork to aerate trampled areas to help bring them back to life, and rake out dead growth in autumn to maintain a lush, green sward.
Follow our care tips to improve the condition and appearance of your lawn, below.
1. Mow your lawn regularly
Cut your lawn at least once a week in summer and once every two weeks during spring, autumn and warm winters. Regular trimming encourages the roots to spread, which will help to fill gaps and block out weeds.
In summer, raise the cutting height of your mower to leave the lawn longer – around 5-10cm – as this will make it less prone to going brown in dry weather. Keep your mower well maintained and the blades sharp.
2. Water your lawn
Always water young lawns but don’t over water as this can cause them to root shallowly and establish poorly. Where possible, use rainwater from a water butt or grey water from your bath or washing up bowl. Sprinklers are perfect for keeping lawns hydrated but they use a lot of mains water and are not permitted during a hosepipe ban. Don’t worry if an established lawn goes brown, it’s not dead. It will simply green up again when the rains come.
3. Weed your lawn
Plantains and dandelions have wide, flat leaves that can smother large areas of lawn and inhibit growth, although they are easy to remove using a hand trowel or daisy grubber. Yellow medick, buttercups and clover can also spread quickly through a lawn, so raking before you mow can help to lift them up into the mower blades, weakening and killing them off over time.
Try to avoid using weedkiller. Chemical weedkillers can be expensive and ultimately don’t tackle poor grass health, which helps weeds to thrive.
4. Relieve compacted grass
Compacted ground prevents grass growing well and can lead to bare patches in the summer and mud baths in the winter. Relieve the compaction and aerate the soil by pushing a garden fork about 10cm deep into the soil every 10cm and gently rocking back and forth on the fork handle. The prongs open up the soil, allowing the roots to breathe and encouraging the grass to regrow.
On heavy ground, such as clay soils, brush sharp sand or fine horticultural grit into the holes to improve drainage and prevent further compaction.
5. Edge your lawn
Edging a lawn is the finishing touch to a neat, clipped lawn. Use a pair of long-handled shears to define the edge of your lawn, and stop the grass growing into borders. It instantly neatens your garden, creating a very satisfying finish. Where the lawn has grown into the border, use a spade or half-moon edger to reshape it and create a shallow ‘moat’ or install permanent edging that the grass can’t cross.
6. Feed your lawn
To keep your lawn looking good you need to feed it regularly. If you have a large lawn, invest in a wheeled lawn feeder for a fast and accurate job. Apply fertiliser to grass when rain is forecast, so that it gets washed down to the roots and to stop it burning the leaf blades – an organic fertiliser will aid long term lawn health, over chemical alternatives. If it doesn’t rain, water the fertiliser in with a hose or watering can. Your grass should look greener within a week. Lawns typically need a feed in spring and midsummer.
7. Fill bare lawn patches
Rather than letting bare patches spoil the look of your lawn it’s easy to sow grass seed over the raked soil. Alternatively, make fillers from unused turf. When reshaping the lawn, collect up the strips and place them 5cm apart in a compost-filled seed tray, then grow them on outside or in a cold frame.
To replace the bare patch, cut out a square or rectangle around the area and, using a hand trowel, dig up the soil in the rectangle to whatever depth of soil your new turf strip is. Gently lay the turf, cut to fit, over the patch. Firm it down so that there are no gaps and your new turf is no higher or lower than your existing lawn.