Gardencare Calendar

January

  • Reduce the height of shading hedges and thin overhanging tree canopies
  • Rake up and remove leaves
  • Redefine lawn edges using a sharp,half-moon edging iron
  • Keep off the lawn when it is covered in frost

February

  • Service and carry out any necessary pre-season repairs to your mower
  • Remember 'If you see a weed, pull it up'
  • Use a stiff brush or besom broom to break up and disperse worm casts
  • Consider repairing any worn or thin lawn areas using quality bought-in turf

March

  • Continue removing leaves, weeds and stones from the lawn's surface
  • Maintain worm cast removal as per February's advice
  • Lightly top the grass so that the lawn has a uniform height of cut
  • Watch for signs of disease and treat as appropriate with a suitable fungicide.

April

  • Mow as and when necessary to maintain the lawn at a uniform height
  • Lawn clippings should be collected and composted, if possible
  • Control moss with moss killer a scarifier
  • Trim lawn edges with edging shears to keep them looking neat and tidy
  • Aerate the lawn with a garden fork to improve surface drainage and root growth
  • Apply a proprietary lawn fertilizer

May

  • After the April deluge, we should be looking forward to some drier, warmer conditions. Assuming the current wet weather halts, and hosepipe bans are lifted, irrigate the lawn if any prolonged dry period occurs. It is preferable to carry out occasional heavy applications of water to create a reserve in the soil rather than frequent light applications that encourage the colonization of the less desirable weed grasses, such as annual meadow grass.
  • Remove any stones or debris, such as spring blossom and leaves, from the lawn surface. Stones, in particular, can cause serious damage to your mower. Use a stiff brush, a leaf blower or leaf rake.
  • Bearing in mind that this should be a reasonable growing month, you should be cutting your lawn at least once a week. Prior to mowing, lightly brush the lawn with a stiff brush to stand up procumbent grass leaves and any excess lank growth, which the mower will cut back. This will stimulate the grass to produce new tillers and shoots, which will create a more dense lawn.
  • Gradually reduce your height of cut to around the 20mm mark by the end of the month for the normal hard wearing lawn, and around 15mm for ornamental type lawns.
  • If you mow the lawn frequently, you can let the clippings return to the lawn without leaving a mess. If you mow less frequently, however, it is better to collect the clippings and dispose of them to a compost or recycling bin, otherwise the lawn will look unsightly.
  • Trim lawn edges with a sharp pair of edging shears to keep the lawn edges looking neat and tidy. In a normal year, your early season aeration and overseeding will have been done during the March/April period, however, because of the early drought and the recent rains, this is likely to have been curtailed. You can still do this, as early in May as possible, providing you have means of irrigation should any prolonged dry periods be forecast. Water is critical for the young seedlings.
  • Pull up isolated weeds; apply a proprietary lawn weed killer where weed outbreaks are severe Note: make sure the weed killer is suitable for lawns; otherwise you will kill the grass as well as the weeds. Do not use a weedkiller if you have overseeded.

June

  • Continue to trim lawn edges as and when required, with edging shears to keep them looking neat and tidy.
  • Continue to pull up isolated weeds or carry out spot treatment of weeds with a proprietary lawn weed killer Note: make sure the weed killer is suitable for grass; otherwise you will kill the grass as well as the weeds.
  • Check the mower blades are still sharp and that all moving parts are lubricated as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Mow on a more regular basis, at least once per week; the height of cut should now be at the summer height of cut.
  • Unless the lawn is level and free of any humps and hollows, the height of cut should be between 15 - 20 mm. Lower heights of cut will expose the humps or hollows and can result in the mower straddling the high spots and scalping the turf. Lawns that are uniformly level can be mowed at a height not less than 12 mm.
  • Lightly scarify the lawn with a spring tined rake to remove thatch (the build-up of excess organic matter on the surface of the soil). This is necessary as thatch will hold water on the surface like a sponge, encouraging the grass plant to grow only shallow roots, which will make the grass plant less tolerant of dry weather as it does not have roots extending deep down into the soil to find moisture. Thatch can also harbour turf diseases
  • Maintain surface levels on formal lawns by top-dressing with an appropriate soil dressing, which fills low spots and dilutes the build up of organic matter.
  • Any areas that were turfed or seeded will need irrigating if the dry weather continues. If there is a prolonged dry spell the entire lawn may need to be watered. Look out for browning of the grass leaf blades, or wilting leaves, which are indicators of the grass becoming too dry.
  • Another indicator that the lawn requires supplemental irrigation is termed ‘Foot printing,’ whereby the grass wilts when too dry and flattens under foot, leaving foot shaped depressions.

July

  • The recent heavy rain experienced by most of the UK should negate the need for supplemental irrigation for the majority of people; however those lawns in areas experiencing a prolonged dry spell (not many I suspect) will require irrigation. 
  • Aerate the lawn by lightly pricking the surface with a garden fork; this will improve oxygen levels and help rain and irrigation to penetrate the surface and more easily reach the grass roots.
  • Make a small application of fertiliser on lawns that are thinning and looking unhealthy.  A good indicator of when fertiliser is required is when the amount of grass clippings collected is dramatically reduced.  Always follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Maintain neat lawn and path edges by trimming back excess grass growth with lawn edge trimmers on a regular basis.
  • Continue to pull up isolated weeds or carry out spot treatment of weeds with a proprietary lawn weedkiller.  Note: make sure the weedkiller is suitable for grass, otherwise you will kill the grass as well as the weeds.
  • The lawn mower should now be at its summer height of cut – ornamental lawns 10 to 15mm; recreational lawns 20 to 30mm. - Do not be tempted to reduce the height of cut, as you may scalp the lawn, resulting in unsightly bare patches. Mow any wildflower meadow areas and leave the clippings in situ to dry for at least a week.  Remove the clippings once they have dried and set seed.
  • Lawns that have been subjected to severe flooding this summer are likely to have a build-up of sediment on the surface.  This sediment can be either physically removed by scraping it off the surface, or broken up and worked into the surface to mix and dilute it with the underlying soil.  This can be achieved with aeration and deep scarification using a garden fork and spring tined rake.

August

  • Continue to trim lawn edges as and when required, with edging shears to keep them looking neat and tidy. Any areas that were turfed or seeded will need irrigating if the dry weather continues.  If there is a prolonged dry spell, the entire lawn may need to be watered.  Look out for browning of the grass leaf blades, or wilting leaves, which are indicators of the grass becoming too dry. 
  • Another indicator that the lawn requires supplemental irrigation is termed ‘Foot printing’, whereby the grass wilts when too dry and flattens under foot, leaving foot shaped depressions.
  • Continue to pull up isolated weeds or carry out spot treatment of weeds with a proprietary lawn weed killer Note: make sure the weed killer is suitable for grass; otherwise you will kill the grass as well as the weeds.
  • Check the mower blades are still sharp and that all moving parts are lubricated as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Mowing height should be between 15-20mm, any  lower and you run the risk of scalping the lawn.
  • After the recent rainfall and resulting excessive growth the lawn may be looking ‘hungry’ – light green in colour and starting to thin out. If so, add a fertiliser, this will replace the nutrients removed over the last two months of wet weather.
  • Red thread is also prevalent at the moment (fungal disease that turns the grass a reddy/pink colour). This can be fed out using fertilisers or by using a chemical control.
  • Lightly scarify the lawn with a spring tined rake to remove thatch (the build-up of excess organic matter on the surface of the soil).  This is necessary as thatch will hold water on the surface like a sponge, preventing the rain from reaching the soil where it’s needed,  making  the grass plant less tolerant of dry weather as the roots cannot  find moisture.  Thatch can also harbour turf diseases such Fusarium.

September

  • Start to plan the autumn renovations for your lawn, with emphasis on the type of renovations required and the materials needed.  The work you do this autumn will have positive effect on the look of your lawn next spring/summer.
  • Scarification is necessary, as thatch (the build-up of excess organic matter on the surface of the soil) will hold water on the surface like a sponge, encouraging the proliferation of moss and reducing the need for the grass to develop a deep root base.  - This makes the grass plant less tolerant of dry weather as the roots cannot find moisture.  Thatch can also harbour turf diseases such Fusarium.
  • Aerating the lawn with either solid or hollow tines. The alleviation of compaction in the surface of the lawn will allow the movement of both air and water though the top layer of the turf. This helps with drainage and therefore helping prevent moss, and also encourages root development within the lawn. When hollow tining, the cores will have to be removed, these can either be disposed of or recycled as a dressing for the spring or next autumn.
  • Re-seeding the lawn in areas where the grass is thin or patchy, but also as a way of adding newer more vigorous grasses to the turf sward.
  • Top dressing the lawn with a soil/sand mix can be used to cover the recently applied seed and also to remove dips and hollows from the lawn. Once applied, use the back of a garden rake to level off the dressing. Do not bury the grass, always ensue that it is showing through the top dressing, otherwise you can ‘suffocate’ the lawn and kill the grass beneath it.
  • Fertilise the lawn with an autumn, winter fertiliser, these are usually low in Nitrogen but have a higher amount of Phosphate and Potash than summer feeds.  These two last nutrients help with root development and strengthen the plants cell walls, therefore allowing the turf to go into winter with stronger and healthier plants.
  • Raise the height of cut after renovations to 30-40mm, any lower and you encourage the build-up of moss within the lawn. The less light that can get to base of the sward the less moss spores that are able to germinate.
  • Continue to trim lawn edges, as and when required, with edging shears to keep them looking neat and tidy.

October

  • Scarification is necessary, as thatch (the build-up of excess organic matter on the surface of the soil) will hold water on the surface like a sponge, encouraging the proliferation of moss and reducing the need for the grass to develop a deep root base.  - This makes the grass plant less tolerant of dry weather as the roots cannot find moisture.  Thatch can also harbour turf diseases such Fusarium.
  • Aerating the lawn with either solid or hollow tines. The alleviation of compaction in the surface of the lawn will allow the movement of both air and water through the top layer of the turf. This helps with drainage, and therefore helping prevent moss and also encouraging root development within the lawn. When hollow tinning, the cores will have to be removed, these can either be disposed of or recycled as a dressing for the spring or next autumn.
  • Re-seeding the lawn, both in areas where the grass is thin or patchy, but also as a way of adding newer, more vigorous grasses to the turf sward.
  • Top dressing the lawn with a soil/sand mix can be used to cover the newly applied seed, and also to remove dips and hollows in the lawn. Once applied, use the back of a garden rake to level off the dressing. Do not bury the grass, always ensure that it is showing through the top dressing, otherwise you can ‘suffocate’ the lawn and kill the grass beneath it.
  • Fertilise the lawn with an autumn/winter fertiliser; these are usually low in Nitrogen but have a higher amount of Phosphate and Potash than summer feeds.  These two last nutrients help with root development and strengthen the plant’s cell walls, therefore allowing the turf to go into winter with stronger and healthier plants.
  • Raise the height of cut after renovations to 30-40mm; any lower and you encourage the build-up of moss within the lawn. The less light that can get to base of the sward, the less moss spores are able to germinate.
  • Continue to trim lawn edges, as and when required, with edging shears to keep them looking neat and tidy.
  • This is also the time that trees shed their leaves, so leaf collection should be done at regular intervals. If leaf litter is left, it will stop the light from getting to the grass underneath and, as the nights draw in, the grass in the lawn will need all the light it can get.

November

  • By this time of year your autumn renovations should have been completed and the lawn can be left to regenerate at its own pace.
  • Fertilise the lawn with an autumn/winter fertiliser; these are usually low in Nitrogen but have a higher amount of Phosphate and Potash than summer feeds.  These two last nutrients help with root development and strengthen the plants cell walls, therefore allowing the turf to go into winter with stronger and healthier plants.  N.B a slow release fertiliser would be better, as this will trickle nutrients into the ground over the 3 months or so of its life, rather than a sudden flush of nutrients and growth which could encourage lawn diseases such as Fusarium.
  • Fertilisers with high iron content can also be used to harden the grass and help prevent moss. N.B Please ensure when using these types of fertilisers that any granules that come into contact with stone or light paving should be brushed off as soon as possible as the iron can stain, leaving it covered with pink/orange dots.
  • Ensure that your mowers height of cut is between 30-40mm, any lower and you encourage the build-up of moss within the lawn. The less light that can get to base of the sward the less moss spores that are able to germinate.
  • Continue to trim lawn edges if you already haven’t done so, with edging shears to keep them looking neat and tidy.
  • This is also the time that trees shed their leaves, so leaf collection should be done at regular intervals. If leaf litter is left, it will stop the light from getting to the grass underneath and, as the nights draw in, the grass in the lawn will need all the light it can get.
  • Also prune back any herbaceous plants that are overhanging the lawn or may do so once the growing season starts again in the New Year. These obscure the light to the lawn creating unsightly bald patches and can encourage moss or weeds.
  • As we will soon be having frosts, those with fine lawns should wait until the frost has lifted before going on the lawn, as you can bruise the grass leaving unsightly black footprints in the lawn which can turn brown as the grass leaf dies.

December

  • Once again heavy rains have caused localised flooding in certain areas, the receding waters can leave sediment; this can be potentially hazardous waste from flooded sewers or industry. Please wear protective gloves, eye protection and a dust mask as a minimum level of protective clothing when you come into contact with the sediment.  Seek advice from your local authority or the Environment Agency for further guidance.
  • As we also have started to have frosts, those with fine lawns should wait until the frost has lifted before going onto the lawn, as you can bruise the grass leaving unsightly black footprints which can turn brown as the grass leaf dies.
  • Leaf collection should continue when conditions allow. If leaf litter is left, it will stop the light from getting to the surface underneath and, as the nights have drawn in, the grass will need all the light it can get.
  • If you haven’t fed your lawn with an Autumn/Winter fertiliser, I would do so soon. These fertilisers are usually low in Nitrogen but have a higher amount of Phosphate and Potash than summer feeds.  These two last nutrients help with root development and strengthen the plants cell walls therefore allowing the turf to go into winter with stronger and healthier plants.  N.B a slow release fertiliser would be better, as this will trickle nutrients into the ground over the 3 months or so of its life rather than a sudden flush of nutrients and growth which could encourage lawn diseases such as Fusarium.
  • Fertilisers with high iron content can also be used to harden the grass and help prevent moss. N.B Please ensure when using these types of fertilisers that any granules that come into contact with stone or light paving should be brushed off as soon as possible, as the iron can stain, leaving it covered with pink/orange dots.
  • Also, finish pruning back any herbaceous plants that are overhanging the lawn or may do so once the growing season starts again in the New Year. These obscure the light to the lawn, creating unsightly bald patches and can encourage moss or weeds.
  • At this time of year the mower has usually been put back in the shed and forgotten about – please don’t. At the very least, wash it down and grease or oil the working parts; if it’s a petrol mower please remove any remaining petrol, as this can go stale and can prevent the mower from starting in the New Year. Organising the machine to be serviced by a reputable mechanic is far preferable.
  • Finally, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.