Lawn care for spring and early summer

Image by StockSnap from PixabayImage by StockSnap from PixabayA beautiful lawn needs regular care throughout the year but especially in spring and summer. It is also a great time to sow lawn seed. So if you want a gorgeous lawn this summer read the guidelines below and start preparing now.

In warm, frost-free regions you can prepare your lawn in August, but in colder regions it is better to wait until September when all danger of frost is over. In the winter rainfall regions lawns are traditionally scarified and top-dressed in autumn but once the soil dries out a bit you can top dress lightly and fertilise with an organic lawn fertiliser that is high in nitrogen.

Runner lawns

In early spring, once all danger of frost is over, established runner lawns like Kikuyu should be mowed extremely short and scarified with a hard rake or broom to remove the dead mat (use the rakings to mulch your garden beds or add them to the compost heap). Spike the entire area with a lawn-spike or do it manually using a garden fork, driving it into the soil about every 30cm.

Please note that the above procedure only applies to runner-type lawns like Kikuyu, and will damage tuft forming grass varieties like shade lawn and evergreen mixes.

Kentucky Blue, and subtropical grasses like Berea, which is also called LM or Durban grass can be spiked and dressed but should not be cut too short.

After scarifying, water thoroughly a day before applying agricultural lime at +-200g per square meter, and watering it in well. About a week later, feed with a good organic fertiliser like Blade Runner, watering it in well. Because the agricultural lime improves the uptake of the nutrients applied, your grass will grow so vigorously that most aggressive emerging weeds will be smothered before they have a chance to establish themselves and set seed. Those that do push through must be weeded out immediately.

If your lawn is uneven or your soil depleted it may also be necessary to top-dress with a good quality, weed-free lawn dressing. A thin layer is normally more than enough, but if you have uneven spots the dressing can be applied a bit thicker, but never apply thicker than 3cm. As the grass shoots through you can add extra layers of topdressing until all the hollows are filled in. Use the back of a metal garden rake or a wooden plank to spread the lawn dressing evenly over the area.

For a perfect lawn all summer it is essential to feed every 4 to 6 weeks, and to mow and water regularly. Remove any weeds and as soon as they appear, and before they set seed.

Established areas of tuft forming grass varieties

Established areas of tuft forming grass varieties like shade lawn and evergreen mixes can be very lightly mowed and then lightly dressed and any hollows evened out with a good weed-free lawn dressing. Adding some bone meal to the lawn dressing will give your lawn an extra boost, and if there are any bare patches seed can be added to the dressing. Water thoroughly and regularly thereafter until your lawn is well established.

Sow lawn seed

Early spring and summer are perfect times to sow lawn seed, and if you have a small garden you should consider sowing an evergreen lawn. Evergreen mixes are available for both sun and shade, and because they do not creep will not invade your garden beds. They are also hardy, and as long as they can be watered regularly, will grow well throughout the country; with the exception of very humid regions.

To prepare the beds dig them over to a depth of about 20cm and add lots of compost and a dressing of 2:3:2. Rake the beds smooth and water gently. Once the soil has partially dried out, you can sow the seeds as recommended. Rake the bed lightly once again after sowing and water well. Ensure that the soil remains moist but not soggy until all the seeds have germinated, and allow the grass to establish itself well before mowing it for the first time. Please note that these lawns cannot be cut as short as kikuyu, so read all the sowing and care instructions on the seed box before sowing.