Looking after your lawn during the Spring and Summer

Below are some of the most common questions we get asked about how to produce great looking lawns throughout the Spring and Summer and, of course, our answers to them.

Q. How do I know if my lawn needs fertiliser?

A.  By the look of it.  Is it growing week on week and how much are you collecting in clippings? A healthy lawn will grow continuously throughout April to October and is usually only restricted on growth when its too dry.  If your grass is a uniform green colour and is growing well, its got sufficient nutrients.  If its yellow or just refuses to grow, then its almost certainly because its short of nutrients.

Q. My lawn is full of moss. Isn’t that stopping the grass growing?

A. No, not really.  The main reason that lawns are full of moss is because they are so impoverished that the grass can’t grow and the only thing that then grows is the moss.  Add nutrients, help the grass to grow and you’ll see the moss decline and eventually disappear. Fertiliser is a great way to see the moss suffer – the more that you regularly apply fertiliser, the less moss you’ll see establish. If necessary, try to kill the moss and rake the excess out – but the best way to control moss is to make sure that the grass is growing really well.

Q. If I apply fertiliser to my lawn, will I have to mow it all the time?

Yes!  That’s great – healthy lawns grow continuously and need mowing. A vigorous, healthy lawn needs mowing once a week – and more if you really want to.  Its healthy exercise; get your mower out and enjoy the fresh air. There’s nothing like mowing the lawn to make the garden look great.

Q. Are fertilisers toxic? Will lawn fertiliser harm my pets?

A.  No. Lawn fertilisers, properly used, are quite safe and wont harm any cats or dogs.

If you have pet rabbits or guinea pigs which graze the grass, best give the grass a few days for the fertiliser to dissolve and get taken up by the  grass – and then its quite safe for nibbling rabbits.

Q. Are fertilisers toxic? Will lawn fertiliser harm wildlife?

A.  No. Lawn fertilisers, properly used, are quite safe and wont harm any wildlife; insects,  rodents, birds etc.

If you have wildlife in your garden, that’s great. A healthy lawn will encourage more wildlife and there’s never any issues over toxicity

Q. What does ‘properly used’ mean?

A.  Apply fertiliser as uniformly as you can so that areas are not over-dosed and lead to scorch. Scorch is just due to the concentration of minerals in the fertiliser being higher than the surrounding soil moisture – the greater the concentration and some green leaves will be scorched. But don’t worry; the effects are only temporary and the grass will soon respond to the fertiliser nutrients, new growth will take place and the scorch will disappear.

If you don’t have a fertiliser spreader, then apply by hand but wear gloves when doing so and wash your hands after use.

Q. Do I need to water my lawn after applying fertiliser?

A.  Its not essential but if the soil is dry then the fertiliser wont dissolve and the response will be slow.  Scorch is more likely  on dry lawns, so a sprinkler is sometimes useful to make sure that fertiliser dissolves and starts working right away.

Q. Oh dear. I’ve scorched my lawn by applying fertiliser when its too dry. What should I do to help it recover?

A.  Check that it is the grass which is scorched – because its quite often just the moss which scorches and that’s usually a good thing.  If you have scorched the grass then water the lawn with a sprinkler and that will help it recover quickly – by dissolving the remainder of the nutrients and prompting fresh growth. Don’t worry too much about scorch – it might look bad but your lawn will soon recover,  especially if it rains or you water it.

Q. How do I know which fertiliser to use?

A.  All lawn fertilisers contain a mix of nutrients and all will work to some extent.  Nitrogen is the key ingredient as this promotes leafy growth and this is what makes the lawn nice and green.  Other nutrients – phosphate (P), potash (K) are there to support growth and ensure that grass plants stay healthy.  The heavier the yield of grass clippings that you remove, the more P & K you need to apply, especially K.

Nearly all lawns are deficient in most nutrients, so the better the balance between all nutrients, the more growth you’ll see and the longer the fertiliser response will last.  In most cases, you can experiment with different fertiliser types and see which works best.

Q. Do I need a fertiliser which is ‘slow-release’?

A.  Slow release fertilisers generally last longer and  that’s for your convenience; you need to make fewer applications.  The main benefit from slow release fertilisers is that they are less likely to scorch your grass and allow it to grow for longer without the need for more fertiliser.  This is very useful in summer when lawns get too dry for freshly applied fertiliser to dissolve and start working.

Q. I’ve used fertiliser already. How do  know when I need to apply more?

A.  When the first amount has been ‘used up’. You might see your lawn turn yellow and will notice the grass yield from mowing will reduce. That might be because its too dry but if its not then it’s a sure sign that you need to apply more fertiliser.

Q. I’ve applied grass seed. How soon should I apply fertiliser?

A.  Grass seeds will germinate quite happily on their own and fertiliser does not help them early on; in fact, high concentrations can sometimes suppress germination.  Wait till most of the seed has germinated and has a leaf at least 50mm long and, ideally,  a second leaf just emerging. That’s when new grass seedlings need more nutrients to grow. Make sure there is enough moisture at this point and water the new grass seeds if necessary.

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