Having a green carpet of healthy and uniform grass in the garden is not difficult, but it requires a series of care throughout the year to keep it in an optimal state. These annual tasks are mowing, watering, aerating, top dressing, reseeding, scarifying, fertilizing, and weeding, all of which are key operations to ensure success.
A lawn requires numerous mowing throughout the year. The successive cuts favor that the tussocks extend wide and cover the soil more fully. Mowing also prevents grass from gleaning and completing its life cycle by wilting.
In your garden center, they will advise you on everything you need to keep your lawn green and impeccable.
How often should the meadow be mowed? This key question does not have a single answer. It depends on many factors: climate, orientation, soil, species planted, use, frequency of irrigation, and so on. As a basic rule you should not cut more than a third of the length of the blade at one time, although logic says that in summer, that is, in the middle of the growth period, it will be necessary to mow much more often, while in winter, especially in cold areas, the mowing frequency must be drastically reduced.
Regarding the height of the cut, each grass species requires a certain one. It is advisable to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but do not forget that in extreme conditions – very cold, very hot, insufficient watering – you will have to raise the height of the cut so as not to punish the grass too much.
Irrigation is another of the decisive factors to have a quality lawn since most of the tussocks are very demanding in water. However, a very common mistake is overwatering. Irrigation must be done depending on the type of grass and, above all, on evaporation-perspiration. Its frequency also depends on the climate, time of year, and soil.
For efficient use of water, do not water in the middle of the day in hot weather, not only to avoid loss due to evaporation but also to protect the leaves from burns and, above all, from diseases.
Remember that the more abundant and spaced watering encourage the deepening of the roots and, therefore, greater resistance to drought.
Over time, the lawn ends up compacting, which prevents the roots from growing in optimal conditions and receiving the water they need. This problem is aggravated when the soil is clay. The work of aeration tries to compensate for compaction by extracting small clods from the ground as if it were a punch.
It consists of applying a small layer of sand, mulch, or a mixture of both on the lawn. This work is especially indicated after aeration because the gaps are filled with a new, looser substrate that will facilitate the roots to spread and the quality of the grass improves.
In many lawns, a layer of plant debris, moss, and the earth usually accumulate at the base of the grass, which waterproofs the soil and favors the appearance of fungi and pests. To remove this mattress you must scarify, that is, scratch the surface of the earth. You can use a rake on small areas, or a scarifier on larger meadows. The frequency of scarification will depend on the climate and the orientation of the terrain. In darker and more humid areas you should do it more often, up to once a year, but in better-situated lawns, it would not be necessary to resort to this work for several years.
Sometimes bald spots appear on the lawn, where you will have to reseed. Before doing so, you must improve the area where this bald spot has occurred; To do this, apply mulch and remove the soil lightly with a hoe. The best times are early spring or fall; avoid very hot or cold times. You can take advantage of the top dressing work to reseed.
The best time to fertilize your lawn is in the spring. In autumn and summer, to prepare it for temperature stress (high and low), it is better to use a potassium fertilizer, and for sowing, one rich in phosphorus. The simplest thing is to resort to specific fertilizers for grass, which are usually formulated solid with slow-release, that is, they provide the necessary nutrients over several weeks or months. Another option is to use mulch as compost, which also improves the structure and microbial activity of the soil. In addition, you can take advantage of the top dressing after aeration to apply the mulch.
In any lawn, it is normal for weeds to appear and spoil its appearance. To prevent their appearance, mow the meadow frequently and at the lowest height allowed by the planted tussocks and the time of year. This will keep many unwanted tenants at bay, although you should combine it with manual weeding – especially if the plot is small and when the weeds are grasses – or chemical, applying a broadleaf herbicide.
If moss appears in your meadow, good fertilizer and regular scarification will allow you to reduce the problem. If, because it is a shady and humid area, the moss persists, you should use an anti-moss product. Ask your garden center for advice.
Consult the table Lawn care month by month in Verde es Vida magazine nº70, page 51 (online newspaper library).