The long, frozen winter of 2014-2015 is finally roaring to a close, and the thoughts of avid gardeners are turning to the outdoors. Spring bulbs are blooming, and there may be just a hint of green beneath the dry, brittle thatch of last year’s lawn. So, check the air in the wheelbarrow tyre, and make sure your rubber boots don’t leak, because we’re about to get your lawn ready for summer.
To Burn or Not to Burn
Burning off the thatch of your lawn is actually illegal in most areas. However, if you live in an area that allows it, the ash can be very beneficial for your soil, restoring valuable nutrients as you water it in. So, if you are allowed to burn, and can do so safely, it won’t damage the lawn itself. However, keep in mind that this can destroy other plants, trees, and shrubs.
Scalping the Lawn
Scalping the lawn consists of mowing it down to the roots. Check with your local nursery to see if your type of grass responds well to this treatment. Lawncare UK can tell you whether or not this practice is recommended. Basically, you will set your mower on its lowest setting. Since the majority of lawn grasses have very strong root networks, clipping the grass extremely closely not damage it. The up-side to scalping the lawn is that with all of the thatch removed, the soil will warm up quicker. This stimulates grass growth. Scalping also cuts most weeds off at the ground, giving lawn grasses a head start in claiming their territory.
Even though the freeze thaw cycle has probably loosened the soil quite a bit, this is still a good time to do further aeration. Manual aerators are operated much like a shovel. You place the aerator spikes onto the ground and stand on the top edge, just as you would a shovel. This pushes the aerators into the soil and pushes out a plug of soil. The holes left behind hold water and fertilizer. This is especially useful for high traffic areas of your lawn, such as dog trails or areas where you just haven’t gotten around to pouring that sidewalk.
Pre-emergent herbicides give you a great advantage over the ever present weed seeds. These chemicals will keep seeds from germinating. Some people who have pets are reluctant to use these chemicals for fear for their pets’ health. Be sure to read the instructions and cautions carefully before you apply the treatment. Many treatments must remain undisturbed for a certain number of hours, while others should be watered in. In some cases, you need to stay off of the lawn for the specified time period. This restriction applies to pets, as well. With herbicides and pesticides, pets can absorb the chemicals through their feet. It will also get on their fur, where they will lick it off.
When you follow these tips, your lawn will start the summer thick, green, and healthy. And, you won’t have as many weeds!