Tips For Improving The Lawn And Reducing Maintenance


Keeping the lawn attractive while cutting down on its overall maintenance is important to most homeowners. A lawn is your welcome mat. It is one of the first things that people notice as they drive up to or past your home. With a few simple tips, it is possible to not only have the lawn of your dreams but one that will require less work in keeping it healthy.

A good lawn is an easy-care lawn. Mowing and other lawn maintenance chores should not be complicated or time consuming. Minimize these tasks by implementing edging around beds, walkways, foundations, steps, etc.

Using Edging for the Lawn

An attractive edging can be constructed with paving stones or brick and laid flush with the lawn. This kind of edging will also reduce the need for hand trimming. Steel, aluminum and plastic edgings are attractive and readily available alternatives as well. Edging can also save on lawn maintenance by keeping mulch in and grass out.

How Often to Mow

A good looking lawn requires mowing no more than every two weeks. Rather than giving the lawn a close trim each week, let it grow a little. This will actually help the lawn by allowing it to shade out weeds and develop stronger root systems. Removing no more than a third of its overall length at a time may be helpful as well.

Also, mow only when the grass is dry and use a sharp mower blade to make cleaner cuts. Mowing wet grass can spread fungus or insects; it can also dull the mower blades.

Preventing Weeds in the Lawn

A well-prepared lawn doesn’t contain bare spots or patchy areas where grass will not grow. If a bare area should develop, don’t leave it open to weed invasion; reseed the area as soon as possible or turn it into a flower bed instead. If your lawn has significant shady areas that make growing grass difficult, consider using shade-loving grasses instead or incorporate a shade garden. You could also try to reduce the amount of shade by removing the lower branches of trees that might be causing this shade.

Weeds and wild grasses should not be present in the well-manicured lawn. Dandelions popping up throughout the lawn are a tell-tale sign that soil problems are occurring.

Fertilizing Your Lawn

Even if you are committed to having a low-maintenance lawn, you will need to fertilize it with nitrogen to sustain a thick, vigorous lawn. In addition to nitrogen, your lawn may require doses of phosphorus and potassium as well. Depending on where you live, however, your soil may naturally contain sufficient levels of these elements. Test your soil regularly to make sure that all nutrients are in balance.

When choosing fertilizer, look for the slow-release forms. Using slow-release fertilizers will allow you to reduce the amount of time you spend feeding the lawn. These don’t have to be applied as frequently, saving you both time and money. Leaving clippings where they fall not only saves on maintenance, but it also reduces the need to fertilize. Grass clippings naturally add nitrogen to the soil as they decompose and also help conserve soil moisture. This is also a great alternative to using chemical fertilizers. A healthy, well-fed lawn will resist the attacks of pests and diseases as well as crowd out weeds.

Watering Your Lawn

One of the best lawn-maintenance savers is less frequent but deeper watering. How much water your lawn needs depends on the grass, the soil and the amount of rainfall your lawn gets. Generally, watering an inch once or twice a week should be sufficient.

Give your lawn the water it needs but no more. If it rains during the week, decrease your watering. If it is extremely hot or windy, you may need to increase the watering. There are, however, ways to minimize the need for watering. Keeping the grass taller by mowing less frequently will help shade the soil, reducing moisture evaporation.

Choosing native grasses or those adapted to your area generally require less watering. Improving the lawn’s soil quality, without chemicals, can also reduce watering needs, and organic lawns require less watering than chemically-treated lawns.


Renovating a Lawn Restoring an Old or Damaged Lawn

Exactly how you renovate a lawn will depend on when you start. There is no point in spring feeding a lawn as autumn comes to a close! Assuming it’s anywhere between April and September when the grass is growing well, the first thing to do is to apply a traditional lawn sand which will boost growth of the grass, kill or at least knock back broad leaved weeds and moss.

Unlike selective herbicides, traditional lawn sand is safe to use where the mowings are composted or used on the vegetable plot as a mulch. There is not an organic version of this as it relies on the strength of the artificial fertiliser to burn the broad leaved weeds but just push growth in the narrow leaved grass.

The sulphate of iron is good against moss and the sand itself makes it controllable. Without the sand you’d be trying to apply a pinch per square metre.

Traditional Lawn Sand Recipe

  • 19 parts by weight Dry Ordinary Builders Sand (from builders merchant)
  • 7 parts by weight Sulphate of Ammonia (Garden Centre or Horticultural Supplier)
  • 3 parts by weight Sulphate of Iron (Garden Centre or Horticultural Supplier)

It doesn’t matter whether you use ounces or grams, pounds or kilos as long as you stick to the ratio 19:7:3 and mix well. It is critical that the sand is dry and the mixture is kept dry until use.

Apply to the lawn at a rate of 150 grams per square metre. Drop a pinch into the centre of any dandelions or other clumps of weeds. It can help to mark out a bit of the lawn in square metres and weigh a small handful of the sand. This gets your eye in. I find I apply about 100 grams in a handful. Wear gloves, of course, or the great health and safety man will get you!

It’s best applied the day before rain is expected or apply and the next morning give the lawn a light watering to wash the sand in a bit,

After a ten days or so the lawn will look awful, it will develop black patches and you’ll curse me for suggesting using a lawn sand. Take a spring tine lawn rake and rake as much of the now dead moss and weeds out as possible . This will leave some patches looking very thin and your arms and back feeling as if you lost a fight with a wrestling champion. For medium or large lawns you might find it worthwhile investing in a lawn scarifier. Electric ones start under £100, petrol machines for large areas cost more, of course.

Don’t worry, in a few months the grass will grow back a lot stronger than it has ever been but if it looks really threadbare, scattering some grass seed (mixed 1:5 with dry sand by volume) will help.

You’ll still have some weeds but it’s quite a therapeutic job going over the lawn using a long knife to sever roots of dandelions as deep as possible and pulling them up by hand.

Compaction

The next big problem your lawn will have is compaction. All those people walking over it have squashed the air our of the soil. It’s easy to sort if a boring job. Take your garden fork and push it into the ground between 10cm an 15cm deep. Wiggle it back and forth, remove and take half a step back and repeat.

As promised, a mind numbing job but it will improve drainage no end, reducing water logging and moss growth.

Just applying lawn sand, scarifying and spiking will improve most neglected lawns beyond recognition. Because you’ve not used any nasty persistent selective herbicides, the mowings are fine to compost or use direct as a mulch on the vegetable plot or in a bean trench.

Hollows and Dips, Uneven Lawn

Bare Patches

For small patches, roughen the surface of soil in the patch and then sow grass seed over, covering with a thin layer of sand or top dressing.

For larger patches, insert a replacement turf. Whether re-seeding or replacing turf ensure they don’t dry out.


Improving a Lawn Full of Weeds - garden

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Renovating and repairing a Lawn

Our GardenAdvice.co.uk lawn experts show you how to renovate and repair lawns in record time.

The first stage is to decide if your lawn is worth saving or whether it would be quicker and cheaper to start from scratch.

This decision is mainly influenced by the amount of grass left in the lawn as against moss and weeds. If there is over 60% moss and weeds you would be better off killing the existing lawn and turfing or seeding a new lawn.

If you have decided to save the existing lawn however, then you should follow the steps outlined in the step by step guide.

1. First cut the lawn to a height of 10 mm. This might mean allowing the lawn to grow and raising the cut on your lawn mower. If however the lawn is longer before you start, you cut the grass over a number of cuts over a number of weeks to gradually lower the grass length.


2. Next feed the grass with growmore fertiliser available at most garden centres. This can be done by hand, applying approximately two grams per square metre. If the weather is dry you need to water in after applied.


3. Then after a few days, rent a scarifier from your local hire shop and run it over the grass allowing it to comb the existing grass but without causing any bare patches - this might be difficult if the lawn is uneven. This operation should be carried out in two directions for maximum effect. The scarifying will produce a lot of matter which can be mown up using a mower with a grass collector. Before you scarify the grass you must make sure that the lawn is not too dry – it is often a good idea to water it the day before.


4. Allow the grass to recover for a week and then cut it again. Leave for three days and then apply a lawn weed killer with a watering can. For good results you need to apply the weed killer on a warm day when the weeds will be growing at their maximum rate. (Very hot days should be avoided as the salts in the weed killer can scourge the grass.)


5. By this stage the grass should be improving. If it does not show improvement you should request a free soil analysis from gardenadvice.co.uk soil test service. The next stage is to top dress the lawn with a sharp type sand which is available from a builder’s merchant, normally called a grit sand or plasterer’s sand. The general purpose of the top dressing is to level the surface. You should spread the sand with a shovel and brush it into the surface making sure that you do not smother the grass in order that it can recover. Over several applications, over a number ! of weeks, this should help to level the surface.


6. The final stage is to over seed in the autumn (October) and then top dress again with a 50% peat and 50% sand mixture. Once you have seeded the lawn, leave it for approximately 14 days to allow the seed to germinate. If the weather turns dry, give the lawn a light watering.

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You’re standing on your lawn looking at the mess of a garden before you. There is no discernible plant life, just a mass of tangled weeds that are unidentifiable by nature. What happens now? If you have a garden full of weeds but are looking for a clean slate, what is your first move?

Before you pull out the flame thrower, take a step back and consider the best ways to clear out a garden full of weeds.

Start Over with Mulch

If you really want to do the bare minimum to defeat weeds and start all over, use mulch. This will mean the beds won’t be usable for some time, but eventually the mulch will breakdown and you’ll be left with new rich soil.

There are a variety of mulches available that you can buy at the garden store or through a private seller. Some people even get rid of mulch materials, like pine straw, for free. The mulch will create a barrier between the weeds and the sun, which will stop them from growing.

If your weeds are extreme, put down a layer of moist newspaper and cover that with at least two inches of mulch. This will destroy the weeds, prevent them from growing, and eventually leave you with a plantable garden.

Use a Cover Plant

You can also fight weeds with weeds. In this instance, you can choose a cover plant, such as clover, that will choke out the weeds and replace them with a thick cover material. This isn’t a good choice for everyone if what you’re looking for is a perfectly manicured lawn, but if you’re open to the idea of something more natural, it will do the trick.

Get Your Hands Dirty

Of course, in some cases, nothing will beat the experience of getting down on your hands and needs and pull the weeds out with brute force. Use gardening gloves to avoid exposure to allergens, bugs, or thorns. Invest in knee pads or a good sitting cushion so you can settle in and tear those weeds out.

This process can also be cathartic. You build up a sweat, but at the end you’ll have a perfectly cleared garden ready for the next phase of its existence.

Dig Down to Start Over

If pulling them out isn’t an option for you, you can also dig them out. This amounts to the same thing, after a fashion, but will leave you with a cleared bed that will need more top soil in the end.

This method is best if you have weeds that seem to regrow no matter what you do. That probably means you have some stubborn roots just out of reach. By digging them out and starting over completely, you can have more control over what’s planted in your flower bed.

Use a Power tool

Some homeowners aren’t as worried about the long term effects of weeds but prefer to make sure they are kept at bay with power tools.

But using a weed eater isn’t a one-and-done proposition. You’ll need to chop down your weeds once a week when you do your other mowing to make sure they don’t become unsightly. That said, this is one of the most popular choices for an easy weed elimination method.

Trim the Edges

Along with weed whacking, you can also use your lawn maintenance time to keep weeds away by being sure to mow near the edges of your gardens. Keeping weeds trimmed back will discourage them from infesting the areas you don’t want infested.

Plant Close Together

You can also opt to plant your flowers or vegetables closer together which will keep weeds from finding a spot to settle in. When you visit a botanical garden, you’ll often see blankets of flowers or plants which not only add to the visual appeal but also cut down the maintenance of that bed.

Use this method at home to add interest to your gardens and avoid too much work weeding throughout the season.

Just Give Up

The truth is, not all weeds are bad. In fact, some are quite pretty and others are even usable and edible. If your homeowner association allows for it, or your weed bed is in an unseen location of your yard, just let them grow and see what happens.

Before you eat anything from your garden, make sure you can identify it as an edible plant.

You may also find that some of your weeds are actually wildflowers, which can add color interest to your yard if they’re kept contained in a wildflower garden. Cultivating weeds doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Call in the Professionals

Of course, you may not want to or need to do any of this work yourself at all. Why not call in the professionals. There are companies in your area that provide services to clean up your yard at any level. Whether it’s just a little weeding or a major project in the spring or fall, you can rely on someone else to handle the problem for you.

The professionals at All Star Clean Up will keep you from having to do the dirty work yourself, literally. Avoid getting dirt under your finger nails. Don’t break your back. They can handle a major project in far less time, so it’s worth a look at the cost and benefits.

The cost of yard clean-up will depend entirely on the size of your yard and the severity of the weeds in question.

Make your yard look amazing. Contact the team at All Star Clean Up today to see how we can help clear those weeds and give you a clean yard to start over and make it beautiful.


How to restore a garden lawn full of weeds:

Clean and mow the lawn

Start by cleaning your garden, getting rid of as many huge clusters of weeds as possible using a small hand shovel.

Tearing the weeds off at the surface of the ground is not enough, you need to ensure you remove the entire plant including its roots.

After you’ve torn these out, make sure to put them in the rubbish before you start mowing the lawn, as any bits chopped up by the blades will be inadvertently replanted.

How to remove weeds from grass lawn: Tips to restore garden (Image: getty)

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When mowing, make sure you set the blades to a high setting to get right through the grass.

Weedkiller

Use a sprayer and apply the weed killer directly to the weeds, try to avoid healthy grass since even the best herbicides can damage it.

Also, make sure to do this at least three weeks before the term for setting up a new lawn.

Everyone longs for a luscious green garden and not an unsightly mess (Image: getty)

Aeration

To aerate your land correctly, push a tube into the ground and leave an open hole while moving out the tiny plug of the soil.

After forming the loose soil, roots of your grass can grow deeper into the ground, and both fertiliser and water will penetrate quickly and reach deeper layers.

Plant new grass seed

Before starting, use a power rake to lift and loosen up the soil.

Go over your garden from two directions and then spread the precise amount of seeds around by using a broadcast spreader.

You will need approximately fifteen seeds per square inch.

It's possible to revamp a messy back garden (Image: getty)

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Water your soil regularly

You’ll need to water the new grass regularly, at least twice a week, especially throughout the summer.

Most lawns need approximately 1.5 inches of water a week, but it’s important to water regularly if we’re experiencing hot weather.

To determine how often you need to water your lawn, you can use a few tests, including the screwdriver test.

This involves pushing a screwdriver six inches into the soil to check if it is moist.

Weeds are pests, especially during the summer (Image: getty)

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You can use an oscillating lawn sprinkler which can cover a waste area and prevent washing away grass seeds at the same time.

Fertilising the lawn

Let your lawn dry and spread weed-killing fertiliser over the new grass.

Take care to apply it in mid-spring and summer if you have warm-season grass seeds in your lawn, and during summer or early fall if you’re growing cool-season grasses.

That way, your grass will get all the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.


Bringing a lawn back from the dead

If you have a lawn that has become really overgrown it will be a long process to get it back under control. Start by cutting the lawn back with a strimmer, then rake up and remove all the grass. At this stage your lawn will be in shock, you should leave it for at least 2 weeks before doing anything else to it, this will give the lawn chance to recover. It will be brown/yellow at this time but don’t panic. Also, it is important to resist the urge to feed the lawn at this point, the grass will already be long and lanky due to it fighting for light previously, feeding at this point could make the situation worse.

A few weeks after your initial chop back start to mow the lawn, this will help kill off any weeds that remain and also help encourage the grass to grow out rather than up. You will probably have a few bare patches at this point so you can reseed these areas. Try to match with the type of grass you are growing to avoid obvious different types of grass in your lawn.



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