How To Create The Perfect Lawn: 10 Steps To Success
The lawn really is the highlight of any good garden. A lawn provides space for the kids to have a play or kick about, family pets to enjoy and for you to sunbathe, relax and entertain come summer.
A healthy, lush green lawn will bring your outside space to life, but how exactly do you achieve this? From creating your lawn to maintaining or repairing it, we’ve put together the ultimate lawn guide.
Whether you’re an experienced gardening enthusiast or a gardening newbie, join us at Gardeners Dream for top tips and advice, and enjoy a perfect lawn all year-round with our 10 steps to success.
Step 1: Consider the layout of your garden
Before you start working on your lawn, you need to have a good think about the layout of your garden, and what will be practical for you.
Begin by looking at the size and shape of your garden. Which areas do you tend to use the most, and which areas catch the most sun? You want your garden layout to maximise the sunlight, so think carefully about where to place features, plants or trees, and where to lay the lawn.
Next, consider who uses your garden, and what you actually use your garden for. If you have children or pets, a full lawn is best for allowing plenty of room to run and play. If you host regular BBQs or garden parties, a patio area and lawn combo, with room to entertain, will be perfect.
Step 2: Decide which is right for your garden – lawn turf or seed?
Once it comes to the initial creation of your lawn, there are two options to choose from: turf or seed. There are benefits to both. Lawn seed offers a natural looking lawn, is easy to use in small areas, and is by far the more cost-effective of the two options. A lawn turf, on the other hand, gives an instant result and will need less maintenance in the first couple of months.
Step 3: Prepare your lawn well
Whether you’re planting seeds or laying a turf, the preparation to your lawn will be the same. Begin by removing any stones, weeds or rubbish from the lawn area. Once this area is cleared, turn over the ground by using a garden fork to dig and rotate. Next, use a rake to level the ground, then firm it down to remove any air pockets that may have formed.
After waiting a few weeks for the soil to settle, you should rake a final time before sowing your seed or laying your turf. For more detailed instructions on both preparing and laying your lawn, check out our Preparing Your Soil and Seeding Your Lawn and How To Lay Lawn Turf blog posts.
Once your lawn is planted, laid and established, you can commence with your lawn maintenance routine.
Step 4: Feed your lawn
When it comes to feeding your lawn, a seasonal approach is best. Aim to feed your lawn with a specialist lawn treatment in spring, summer and autumn for healthy grass all year round.
Spring feeding should generally occur around April time when the weather is just beginning to warm up and you’ve already cut the lawn a couple of times. Judge by the weather, as slightly earlier or later feeding may be required.
Summer feeding can also vary but is usually recommended for around 10 to 14 weeks after your spring feeding. Avoid summer feeding on any days when the weather is too dry – the ground will need a little moisture for the lawn feed to work effectively.
Autumn feeding should occur around September. A specialist autumn feed, such as the ICL Greenmaster Autumn Lawn Feed, is perfect for ensuring your lawn remains healthy until the following spring.
As a general rule all year round, you should apply fertiliser directly after you have cut the grass. This means your fertiliser has plenty of time to settle into your lawn, and isn’t disturbed by the next cut.
Step 5: Weed your lawn
Defined as invasive, unwanted plants, weeds not only look unsightly but cause harm to your garden, as they compete with existing grass for the room and nutrients to grow.
With weeds, prevention in the best place to start. Regular maintenance in the form of feeding, mowing and aerating your garden will help keep your lawn healthy, leaving you with strong grass and making it much harder for weeds to compete.
However, no matter how hard you try, often weeds will sneak in. In these instances, always begin by looking at non-chemical methods of removal. If you can, manually remove the weeds by hand or with a garden fork. If this isn’t possible, or you are dealing with a large amount of weeds, you can begin looking into chemical methods.
Identify the weeds, and be sure to browse a selection of weedkillers to find the right one for your garden and situation. Remember to;
- Apply your weedkiller in spring and summer, when the grass (and any weeds) are growing the most.
- Do not apply any weedkiller within the first six months of sowing seeds or laying a turf – this can damage your new grass and hinder healthy growth.
Step 6: Water your lawn
Watering your lawn is not actually a strict necessity. Unlike many other plants, your grass will enter a dormant stage if it reaches beneath a certain point of moisture, and will then resume growth after rainfall. Because of this, it is better to either not water your lawn, or water it on a regular basis – sporadic watering can be stressful for your grass, and therefore be more harmful than not watering at all.
Regular watering is however great for keeping grass looking and feeling healthy all year round. Like with all lawn tips, it is important to judge your own lawn and the weather conditions – each garden is different. As a general guide, we would recommend aiming to water your lawn around once a week, although this can be reduced in damp weather when your garden will be naturally watered. You should also always ensure your soil is left to partially dry before the next time you water it.
The best time to water your lawn is early morning. Watering before the sun has risen allows the water to thoroughly penetrate the soil, before it begins to evaporate in the heat. Avoid watering on an evening – the water will cling to the grass leaves overnight, which can encourage pests and mildew.
The amount of water you will need will vary based on your garden and conditions. It is worth bearing in mind that healthy roots usually lie around 6 inches beneath the ground surface, so this is how much soil will need moistening for the best possible results.
While it is important to ensure your garden gets enough water, it is equally important to ensure you don’t overwater your lawn. Keep an eye on your soil – if water is running off the surface, it has been overwatered and can no longer absorb additional water. Some hard soils, generally found in newer housing developments, can contribute to this problem.
If you are living in an area with hard soil, you will need to alter your routine and water in stages – try watering for 30 minutes, leaving to soak, then watering for another 30 minutes.
Soil not absorbing water can also occur when your soil becomes too compacted, leading us neatly to our next step:
Step 7: Aerate your lawn
Soil that is too compacted – whether down to heavy use or naturally hard soil – will not absorb water, and may hinder oxygen from reaching seeds or roots of plants.
In the situations, you will need to aerate your lawn. Aerating involves using a garden fork to create a small number of holes in your soil. These holes will loosen up the soil, and allow moisture, oxygen and nutrients to penetrate beyond the surface.
Once you have aerated your lawn, you will need to ensure you water more frequently but use less water – this will allow moisture to reach the roots and soil without the risk of flooding.
Step 8: Mow your lawn
Spring and summer are when your grass will be growing the most and at its strongest, therefore during these months it will need the most maintenance. Growth will begin in spring, and this is when your regular mowing routine should start.
- In March, you can begin cutting dry grass with a high cut.
- In April temperatures will increase, as will the rate at which your grass grows. In April, aim to mow at least once every 2 weeks.
- In May and June you should mow your lawn frequently, but with a lower cut. Aim for once a week.
- July and August tend to be drier months, so grass growth will actually slow down. In dry weather, you should mow every 1-2 weeks.
- Continue mowing every 1-2 weeks as needed until October. Towards the end of summer, you can raise the cut.
- November will likely be the last regular cut of the year – use this as an opportunity to also clean out any autumn leaves before winter.
- Over winter, you can mow as and when it is needed to keep on top of your lawn maintenance. Keep your mower on a high setting, and never cut your lawn in frosty conditions.
When mowing your lawn, always remember;
- Do not remove over a third of the grass length in a single occasion.
- Each run up your lawn should slightly overlap the previous one. This will ensure no areas are missed.
- Work more slowly if the grass is damp or if your grass is especially long, as it will be delicate and much more susceptible to damage.
Step 9: Protect your lawn
No matter how closely you follow our steps there are always ways that a lawn can become damaged, be it through weather, heavy usage or spot damage from animals.
Dogs, and more specifically dog urine, are a common issue when it comes to damaging grass. Dog urine is something that you cannot stop, and that can actually kill grass.
There are a number of ways you can help issues with dog urine. These include;
- Cleaning the area as soon as possible. Keep an eye on your dog when you let him/her outside, and use a hose or bucket of water to dilute the area and prevent grass burn.
- Spot train your dog. This is an ideal way to help the problem, but will, of course, depend on your dog and how easy they are to train. If possible, training your dog to only use one specific area of your garden will make cleaning and maintaining it so much more manageable, as you will know exactly where to clean and will only need to clean this small area.
- Keep your grass healthy. Regular maintenance in the form of watering, weeding, mowing and feeding will ensure your grass is strong, and in a much better position to protect itself against damage.
In winter, maintain a regular routine in your garden to ensure the least possible damage over the colder months.
- Ensure rubbish, leaves and debris are regularly cleared from your garden.
- Control any weeds that appear.
- Mow and water when needed.
- Aerate once a year (see Step 7).
- Be sure not to overuse your lawn in bad conditions such as frost.
Step 10: Repair/reseed your lawn
While unwatered or dormant grass can repair itself, dead grass can’t. This means any discoloured or bare patches in your lawn will need to be replaced.
To reseed a lawn, begin by completely removing any dead grass with a gardening fork or rake. Once the old grass is removed from the area you should turn, rake and aerate the soil underneath. Then, add your lawn seed and flatten the ground gently. Water the area frequently with a small amount of water for the next couple of weeks.
To re-turf your lawn, begin by cutting out the existing turf with a shovel. Rake the soil underneath, then measure out and fill in the gap with your new turf. Depending on the weather, you will need to water your new turf every 5 to 10 days to ensure it establishes well in the ground.
To keep your lawn looking healthy all year round, be sure to explore the full lawn care selection at Gardeners Dream. From lawn seed to a selection of weedkillers and lawn treatments, you can find everything you could possibly need to create the perfect lawn.