Yorkshire Lawn Care

Lawn Care Tips

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Looking after a lawn can be a full time job if you don't know what you're doing. We've prepared a general guide below, which complements our lawn treatments and should help you maintain the health and good condition of the lawn between treatments.

We have also put together a set of guide leaflets for you to download and print, to help you get out onto your lawn and really examine it's condition.

If you have any questions about what you read here, or need any further advice about looking after your lawn, please contact us and one of our technicians will be glad to help.

Hollow Tine Aeration

What is it?

All lawns need air to enable their natural growth. Grass plants need air to their roots. Aeration is the most effective and simplest process of reducing soil compaction and improving the lawn ability to access air through its root system and therefore grow strong and healthy.

We use machinery originally designed for golf course mainanance for best results. The machine used will remove hundreds of cores, leaving many holes all over the lawn. This process allows the soil surrounding the holes to swell slightly so improving the soils ability to pass moisture and nutrients to the plant's roots.

Why needed?

Over time most gardens will become compacted, from general use and the elements. This squashes the particles together and reduces the grass's ability to grow. This compaction will itself cause a number of problems, it will increase the likely hood of the lawn becoming flooded or water logged. Compacted soils are much more likely to become over run with weeds and moss. The roots are unable to access the nutrient they require so the grass tends to be thin, weak and pale in colour.

If thatch is a problem in a lawn then the best way to reduce its impact on the turf growth is by Hollow tine aeration.

How often?

A lawn cannot be over aerated as long as it is not damaged, the more often the better. As a rule we suggest that it is carried out between every 1 and 3 years but as all soil types, lawns and situations are different it is really something that needs to be discussed to suit your lawns needs.

Scarification

Scarifying is a process perhaps best described as a mechanical de-thatching of the lawn. Its purpose is to remove thatch from the lawn, although it has associated benefits as well. The petrol powered machine used has a series of blades that rotate at high speed and cut into the turf vertically. The depth can be adjusted to remove as much or as little as required. This method of removing thatch is far superior to using a domestic electrical scarifier or using a garden rake.

What is thatch?

Thatch is the organic material which develops between the green leaves of the grass and the soil surface. A small amount of thatch can be useful to a lawn as it helps to preserve moisture and provide a nice soft feel. Thatch is made up of dead, dying and decaying material from the grass as well as outside sources such as moss and leaves. In a healthy growing environment this thatch layer should remain constant, if this thatch is left unchecked and increases it will prevent the needed water and nutrients reaching the grass roots. Thatch provides a breeding ground for unfriendly bacteria and fungi that are likely to cause disease, poor rooting turf is more susceptible to drought and increased incidence of mower scalp.

Why?

Thatch is generally broken down and controlled in a healthy growing environment by bacteria and fungi which feed on the fibre and convert it back into nutrients which are returned to the lawn. Anything that reduces the activity of these bacteria and fungi is likely to increase the level of thatch in the lawn. Thatch is usually accumulated in the lawn due to a number of factors such as incorrect or over use of fertilisers, over watering or too frequent watering, poor soil conditions or compaction, Infrequent aeration and scarification.

What's the answer'?

As with most problems, identification of the reason should enable you to prescribe the right cure. In most cases excessive thatch can be cured by either scarification or Hollow tine Aeration. It is worth noting though that if the thatch problem has developed over many years then it is unlikely that a cure can be rapid and a program of treatments will likely be necessary to return the lawn back to a healthy state. Scarification will remove much, although not all, of the thatch and allow the grass to regenerate. It is advisable; although not essential to carry out scarifying before a fertiliser treatment as this will greatly speed the rate of recovery from the process.

How often?

All lawns are different and it is therefore very difficult to predict how often to scarify a lawn. There are a number of factors that will affect the frequency required. If a lawn contains large amounts of thatch and moss it may need a number of treatments to reduce the level to be manageable. Different grass types tend to produce more thatch than others and therefore need scarifying more frequently. So it is really something that needs to be discussed to suit your lawns needs.

Moss

Mosses are resilient and versatile non flowering plants that are, for many, the worst of all lawn problems. They are a symptom of a poor lawn rather than the primary cause. To successfully remove a moss problem, it is important to identify the primary cause and remove it or reduce its impact. Moss will thrive in areas of excessive moisture shade and poor turf quality. Left unchecked, moss will increase, reducing the grass' ability to thrive and will eventually “choke” out the grass completely. Moss is able to lay dormant in a lawn in dry conditions for long periods, but as soon as moisture is present again in the Spring or Autumn it will come back to life.

Why?

Usually moss is prevalent in lawns either due to excessive moisture or weak turf. These in turn are caused by a number of different factors as below:

  • Excessive moisture
  • Shade
  • Grass mowed too low
  • Compacted soil – due to heavy use
  • Clay soil
  • Poor nutrient levels
  • Poor drainage
  • Excessive thatch
  • Drought
  • Grass left too long during winter
What can be done?

The first thing to do is to try to identify the cause of the moss problem. If it is due to shade from trees, it is possible to remove lower branches or thin out the tree. If it is due to excessive moisture, then hollow tine aeration will help to improve the surface drainage. If thatch is the problem then deep scarification is needed. One of the easiest ways to reduce the incidence of moss is to prevent the lawn from getting long over the winter months. Grass rarely stops growing in the winter nowadays so it is important to keep cutting it.

Dealing with the moss that is already there is the next issue. As moss develops from the Autumn through to Spring, it is important to treat it at these two times. Firstly in the Autumn, but more importantly in the Spring when moss is likely to be at its most prevalent.

Mowing

Mowing is one of the most important things that a house holder can do to maintain a beautiful looking lawn.

What mower?

When making a choice as to which lawnmower is most suitable for your lawn there are a number of factors to take into account:

  • The size of the lawn
  • How high you want the grass to be
  • Is the ground even or not
  • Is the ground sloped or flat?
  • Ease of use

A cylinder mower is generally one that will give a fine, low, quality cut but they are often heavy and difficult to use. They also require the ground to be even to cut the grass properly, and need to be serviced regularly to maintain their quality.

A rotary mower is a general purpose all rounder that will suit most lawns and can come in many different size and price ranges.

A hover mower is often easier to use as they are lighter and can provide a reasonable cut on uneven ground.

How often?

Your lawn should be mowed as regularly as you can do it, at least once per week during the main growing seasons of April – June and Sept – October. This can be relaxed during the height of summer if a drought ensues as the growth will slow and during the winter months again when the rate of growth slows. It is, however important not to let the grass get too long at any time of the year, including winter, as this will reduce the quality significantly, increase the likelihood of moss invasion and reduce the aesthetic appearance of the grass. Do not be frightened to mow your grass in the winter if it is getting long and the ground is not waterlogged or frozen.

The aim is to keep the grass long enough to prevent roots from being starved and the plant getting stressed, but short enough to be neat and attractive.

Close shaving is unfortunately common practice. It means certain destruction for a quality lawn as the desirable grass varieties rapidly weaken. The result is thin open turf with coarse grasses that will soon be invaded by moss and weeds.

But by following the rules above, the leaf is controlled, fertiliser loss is curtailed and the menace of weeds and moss is reduced. This is because the grass assumes a dwarf habit, stimulating development of side shoots rather than vertical growth. This gives the appearance we all desire of a thick, lush lawn carpet.