Lawn Care Calendar
Perfect Ground Solutions have put together a list of lawn care maintenance tips and advice to help you plan, care for and treat your lawn.
Lawn management doesn't end in Autumn and should continue throughout the year.
If you need our help to create a vibrant lawn, your role in our partnership is key! We’ll provide you with regular lawn care advice and tips as and when required and offer specific advice on your lawn once we’ve inspected it.
Lawn Care Maintenance Calendar: Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter
Spring Lawn Care
March, April and May
Spring is naturally when we think about starting work on lawns, getting them to look good for the summer. In truth, the work really starts in the autumn when we plan and carry out renovations, improve the root structure and protect the plants so that they are in a healthy condition when the winter begins to subside.
However, if there are renovations to be carried out, these can be done providing there is an opportunity for the grass plants to regenerate or in the case of new seed, emerge and produce a decent root system before the soils dry out.
In recent years, winter seems to have slid into summer, bypassing spring. This has meant that we have gone from cold wet soils that are unable to support any growth, to soils that have dried out very rapidly, before such times as root structures have been able to grow especially on juvenile plants. As the hot dry weather of spring has arrived, the available water in the soil has retreated downwards meaning that many young plants have struggled to survive.
This being the case, we are making sure that any renovation works that are to be carried out, should be done as soon as possible so that the young plants have as much chance to become established as possible.
Moss control should be carried out before the spring, if it is left to grow throughout a warm autumn and into winter, it will have gained a significant amount of mass. The use of traditional Iron Sulphate mixes that dehydrate the moss and turn it black at this stage is not ideal as this can be very unsightly. Light infestations can be scarified out but abrasive and heavy-duty renovations should be avoided at this time for the reasons above.
There is chemistry available that will control the moss without turning it an unsightly black and will reduce it over several weeks as the grass starts to grow away, this is often our preferred method of reducing moss at this time of year (depending on individual circumstances), whilst planning renovations works for later in the summer.
As the soil temperatures start to rise, the grass plants will begin to grow. Their main objective at this time is to produce large fleshy leaves with the sole aim of capturing sunlight so that they can turn it into carbohydrates for energy by the process call “photosynthesis”. Following the winter, the plant will have used up much of its energy reserves in the same way hibernating animals do, this early spring growth aims to produce energy to put towards the production of a seed head. We often forget that all plants are only here for one reason, that is to reproduce and genetically, grass is one of those that would normally produce a seed head late spring with a view to the seed production cycle being complete by late summer.
This we do not see on lawns as we have a habit of cutting them on a regular basis. However, we do have the added benefit of the good leaf growth which is packed full of “chlorophyll”, the green bit that carries out the photosynthesis.
So moving away from the biology, what should be we doing lawn wise?
This rapid growth needs lots of nutrients, mainly Nitrogen and Potassium as well as many other minor nutrients so we should be applying fertiliser as the soil starts to warm and the day length increases.
It is too early in March to think about weed control although this will be something we will begin to look at as we lose the colder nights in late April. Before this time, the selective weed killers are mainly ineffectual.
Worm castes can be an issue on same soil types, especially after a warm winter. These need to be physically broken up with a rake of a brush before the first mowing, otherwise they will simply be squashed under the mower roller, causing large unsightly patches.
Cut height is important as we start the mowing programme for the year. Start by just taking a very small amount off the plants and then gradually decrease the cut height but do not go below 25 mm. Avoid wet and cold conditions as this will cause soil compaction and plant stress. Make sure blades are sharp as leaf damage caused by blunt blades causes significant plant damage and dulls the look of the lawn.
Mowing frequency will be slow to start with but as temperatures rise, we should be looking to increase the mowing regime to once a week. This will mean that we will not be taking off too much in one go and the frequent mowing will cause the lawn to thicken and stay bright green.
It is not too late at all for patching work such as where shrubs have been cut back, make sure the seed is covered but not with a compost mix. Try to use a proper topsoil. Remember that the seeds are very small and the roots will take quite a long time to reach depth so watering may be needed.
Towards the end of this spring period. We can start to look at the possibility of aerating the soil.
Soil is a living thing and needs a throughput of air and water at all times to keeps all the biological processes active. From time to time, the soil becomes compacted which means the structure is lost and a hard layer forms underground stopping the movement of water and air and also prevents root growth. This may be due to machinery damage or just foot traffic and mowing in wet conditions.
This can be alleviated but aeration but only when the ground conditions are suitable. What we are trying to achieve is “lifting” and “cracking” the soil to help form cracks that roots can use to grow into and that will also allow fluids and gasses to flow. If this process is carried out when the soil conditions are wet, all that happens is that we cause further structural damage and create a situation that is worse than before.
Summer Lawn Care
June, July and August
During the summer, the grass plants are basically trying to produce a seed head although we don’t see this as we are mowing on a regular basis. This does mean that the plants have different physiological requirements than they did in the spring.
The plants will not be producing anywhere near as much in the way of fresh leaves and sometimes, we find this means that the lawn will lose some of its brightness and not look as lush.
We have to be careful at this time of year with the type of fertilisers that we apply. Rapid release nutrients such as nitrogen can be very toxic if the weather turns hot soon after application. The fertiliser may start to “dissolve” on the surface but can be too concentrated if there is not enough moisture to wash it into the soil profile.
At this time, Perfect Ground Solutions will use a variety of slow release chemistry of if the weather begins to dry out, we will use foliar nutrition which is much more gentle and helps the plant by putting fertiliser onto the leaves where it is absorbed.
Weed control is in full swing at this time of year. We will only use herbicides that are applied as liquids as this negates any issues with moisture loss. Care should be given to make sure the correct selective herbicide is applied, otherwise some weeds may not be susceptible.
The cut height and timing in midsummer are critical. If the plants are cut too low on in hot conditions, serious stress and plant damage may occur. As we move from the spring into the summer, we should be looking to increase cut height so that by the time we reach the abrasive hot/dry weather of June, the grass does not get cut less than 35mm at the shortest. This should also coincide with a reduction to cutting no more than every two weeks unless the conditions are very wet.
By allowing the plants to be that little bit longer, we will help protect them from the worst of the heat. The leaves are designed to reflect heat and UV light so by cutting the grass short, we expose the plants to hostile conditions and also expose the soil resulting in more moisture loss. If you do want to water your lawn, the best way is to put a substantial amount of water on to re wet the soil every few days but don’t do it until the soil is very dry.
Where rainfall is sparse, we can assist the lawn by applying soil wetting agents. These will help rain to infiltrate into the soil when the soil conditions are dry. All soils contain many different types of fungi that help break down organic matter so are “good” fungi. However, where the soil becomes dry, the waxy resins that these fungi produce, bind the soil particles together and we end up with soil that is hydrophobic in that it repels water.
Where this happens, the soil is not receptive to rain when it falls and the water runs off or evaporates from the surface leaving the soil just a dry as before the rain. Wetting agents hep by reducing this effect and thus allowing the rain to penetrate.
So generally speaking, there is not to much to do with lawns in the summer other than enjoy them. My best advice to clients when they ask what to do in hot weather is always “get the deck chair and the wine out”. Try to avoid heavy foot traffic in extreme conditions and leave it alone other than admiring it!
Autumn Lawn Care
September, October and November
The late summer and early autumn is the busiest time with lawns. As we move through the latter part of summer, we will get a surge of growth from our which in part relates to an increase in soil moisture but more due to the fact that the plants by now have given up on the prospect of producing a seed head but are concentrating on producing more fleshy leaves to help produce carbohydrates from sunlight to go into the root system to be stored as starch for the winter.
This means that we should significantly boost the nutrition but should not put on too much in the way of nitrogen as this will create too much “soft” growth leading to disease issues in the latter part of the season. This is also a good time to apply nutrients such as phosphate which are slower to break down. We still need to apply plenty of potassium but not to much on very sandy soils as it is very labile and can be washed out easily. On these soils, we have to apply it little and often.
This time of year, is great for renovations. Genetically speaking, grass seeds are programmed to germinate at the end of the summer when the daylength shift and increasing soil moisture trigger germination. This is when large renovation projects should be carried out. Heavy duty scarifying to remove thatch, overseeding and moss removal should be completed before the soil moisture cools too much and the germination rate slows. Ideally, we should have these works planned to make sure the grass plants are fully established before such times as the winter weather closes in.
It is also a good time to look at remedial work on soil. If the summer has been dry, generally the soil will be in good condition and the little work will be required. However, if heavy machinery has been involved, tree work, landscaping, building etc. The autumn is the time to make sure the soil is in good condition before the rains of winter.
Breaking up soil, aerating and levelling etc should only be done when the soil is dry and this is often our last chance of the year.
Winter Lawn Care
November, December and January
During the winter, it is very important not to ignore the lawn. Leaves are one of the biggest problems we have if they are not removed. You can spend loads if time looking after the lawn and investing time and effort which will all be lost if wet leaves are allowed to lie on it for weeks on end which quickly kills the grass plants that are covered.
I know it is very tempting to use the lawn mower to clean these up which is fine, but do it on the highest cut! This will take a little longer but if you lower the cut height, you will cause significant damage to the grass plants as we enter winter and they will have to wait several months before they have a chance to grow again, by this time, many will have not survived.
In “very” frosty weather, the best thing we should do is stay off the lawn. Walking on it will cause leaf damage which will show up as dark patches and will be visible for the rest of the winter. However, in general with UK winters, this is somewhat of a rare event.
It is highly likely that there will be some activity relating to pruning overhanging shrubs etc, this will show up bare patches which are best left until late Feb/March to overseed.
Moss control should continue through the winter months. Iron Sulphate, ideally in a liquid for applied with a large amount of water will help reduce the moss to a point that it is easy to remove as the spring growth starts.
Iron sulphate can be applied at any time providing the conditions are not frozen and ideally it would be applied when conditions are very damp as this helps penetration into the moss.
Other than the above, the other sensible thing to during the winter is to make sure things like mowers are serviced to make sure that they are ready when required and that the blades are sharp.
Lawn Care Calendar and Maintenance Schedule
The following lawn care calendar gives a broad indication of activities that will be planned into your lawn maintenance schedule. To receive a bespoke plan of action for your lawn, please contact us to arrange a suitable time for us to visit.