Domestic Lawn Calendar
A domestic lawn is probably subject to more varied use than any other area of turf. Some lawns will be very protected with very little usage but are there to give pleasure from their visual effect. Others will be used for playing games and holding social events when the weather permits. Because of this diverse usage it is quite difficult to give definitive guidelines for maintenance.
There are however some basic principles that apply to the care of all turfed areas.
First and foremost the soil or growing medium, sometimes referred to as rootzone, must be kept well aerated. So many things depend on this, not least the roots which move in the spaces between the soil particles. If the soil becomes compacted root growth is stunted and the turf will suffer. Depending on the size of the lawn aeration can be carried out by hand forking or a specialised machine. Machines can usually be hired or in some cases it is possible to obtain the services of a local sports ground contractor to carry out the aeration with their professional equipment.
To produce a good turf it is important to have the right grass species, so it may be necessary to carry out some over-seeding on a fairly regular basis.Whilst the species question is being addressed, frequent mowing is vitally important.This will not only thicken the turf by causing more tillering by the grass but will also cause it less stress. Infrequent mowing usually results in a high percentage of the grass leaf being removed in one operation; this is bad for the plant and looks unsightly.
It is a mistake to follow a strict timetable of maintenance but procedures can be identified by the season, to be carried out when the weather is favourable. The following can be used as a template for essential tasks with other operations being carried out as necessary.
January To March
The early part of this period could be very cold and frosty so no work can be undertaken. Should the ground be suitable for aeration this is a good time to be quite aggressive. If aeration is being done by hand don’t try to cover the whole area at once. A small amount of forking each day will gradually enable the whole lawn to be spiked. Try to keep the area free from debris such as leaves and twigs; a wire-toothed rake is most suitable for this. If there are signs of growth in February set the mower at 30mm and cut the lawn in two directions. This can be done every two weeks if conditions allow. In the second half of March, depending on temperature, it is helpful to apply fertilizer. An ideal analysis for this period is 6-0-12 known as Mascot Fine Turf Four Seasons .
April to June
This is the spring period, if no fertilizer was applied during March this should now be done. Remember nitrogen produces leaves so the 6-0-12 Four Seasons or 7-0-14 Apex are very suitable for domestic lawns that are cut once or twice each week.
Early attention to weed control will pay dividends, for both grass cover and visual effect.
It is vitally important that instructions are carefully followed when applying selective herbicide. Obtain a measuring jug and remember any weeds that may escape the spray can be treated again four weeks later. When applying herbicide always keep moving – do not be tempted to dwell on a particularly big weed. The likely result of dwelling will be a scorch mark on the grass.
If moss is a problem there are many products containing iron sulphate that can be used to help control this particularly common situation. However, it should be remembered that moss is a symptom of an underlying problem so it is important to address the cause. If there are any high spots which are subject to being scalped when mowing these should be addressed. To do this obtain a fork fitted with hollow tines, use this at an angle of 45 degrees. Take out cores close together and the raised area should be lowered when pressed down with your foot. It will be necessary to do this when the ground is wet as high spots are usually quite hard.
July To September
This is mid summer – don’t be tempted to cut the turf too short. Domestic turf should look fine at 20mm or at absolute minimum 15mm. Ensure the blades of the mower are sharpened if using a cylinder machine and check the cutting blades are set correctly against the bottom blade (or bedknife as it is sometimes called).
Further fertilizer will probably be required. If irrigation is not available it is recommended that liquid is used mixed with seaweed for general plant and soil health. Microflow 17-2-5 is ideal used at a rate of 1 litre per 100 sq. mts diluted at a ratio of 6 water : 1 Microflow.
To reduce any lateral growth rake or verticut the area with either a wire-tooth rake or a machine fitted with verticutting blades. This should be done gently in the summer as harsh treatment may cause too much moisture loss.
October to December
This is the period for serious lawn maintenance. Deep aeration followed by scarification should be undertaken at this time. There is very little chance of the turf drying out from September onwards so this operation can be vigorously tackled. When this has been done overseed with a traditional fescue and bent mixture of grass seed, covered lightly with 70:30 sand:soil top dressing. Now is the time to apply an autumn fertilizer with an analysis of 5-2-10 or 5-5-10 + Fe .
As the autumn continues keep the lawn free of leaves as fungal disease can start under areas where daylight is unable to reach the surface of the turf.
No matter what the month of the year, if there is growth and ground conditions are good the grass should be cut. Always set the mower 30mm or above so that only a small percentage of the leaf is removed.