The grass in your garden is pretty impressive when it comes to durability. That’s why many of us can fall into the trap of thinking the grass on our lawns will look after itself but it’s more complex than it may seem.
Grass maintenance can vary depending on the type of grass in your garden as well as elements such as temperature, sunlight and moisture. Grass disease can also strike and unfortunately, there is more than one type to contend with.
To help you protect, maintain and enjoy your lawn we have put together the ultimate guide to grass designed to answer the most commonly asked questions…
What do the key terms mean when it comes to grass?
With the endless list of grasses and advice on how to care for it, things can get a little confusing especially when it comes to some of the frequent terms used.
- THATCH – is a layer of both living and dead grass and other debris which collects at the soil surface. This is caused by excessive growth rather than grass clippings when mowing the lawn.
- MOWING HEIGHT – the height at which you set the lawnmower to cut the grass. This can often be changed on your lawnmower, and should be adjusted based on the length of grass, type of grass and the weather.
- WATER SOAKING – the level of water needed to soak the lawn. Usually about 1 inch depending on the type of grass.
- COOL-SEASON AND WARM SEASON GRASS – these are used to describe whether the grass type is most suitable to hot, dryer climates or cooler weather.
- FERTILISER - concentrated sources of plant nutrients used to improve plant health. Each fertiliser can be used to treat a different problem or type of grass.
What are the different types of grass?
There are over 12,000 type of grass which is grown for various purposes from feeding animals to playing sport on. We’re just going to focus on the everyday grass types most commonly found on our suburban lawns.
In the table below, we’ve broken down the key information you need to know help you understand the best grass type for your lawn:
How Does Grass Grow?
Grass plants grow from seeds which implants into the soil. The individual grass plant has roots that grow into the soil which extends to collect water and nutrients. These roots also ensure the grass is secure to the ground.
Although the grass plant gets nutrients from the ground it also needs around 4-6 hours of sunlight to survive along with fairly warm temperatures. The type of conditions depends on the type of grass plant as detailed in the table above..
What is the Best Way to Feed the Lawn?
It sounds obvious but you need to ensure the grass lawn gets enough water. Even during the winter, cooler months if there is a dry spell make sure you regularly water the lawn. A top tip is looking out for dead leaves beginning to curl in the winter months – if this is happening, you can guarantee your lawn is pretty thirsty too!
Outside of watering and planting grass seeds initially into bare soil, it is a good idea to follow a fertilisation system across the four seasons as the changing conditions will dictate what your grass needs.
In autumn, you’ll need to add a fertiliser that helps to strengthen the grass in preparation for the cold weather whereas in spring it’s all about growth. Choosing the fertiliser will depend on several factors such as whether you have pets and if you are trying to tackle a issue with your lawn such as moss growth.
If you’d prefer not to have to reach for the fertiliser too frequently, you can opt for slow-release fertilisers which break down over a longer period. In this case, you may only need to fertilise the grass twice in the year focusing on the start of spring and the start of autumn.
Why is the Grass Growing at Different Rates?
If you notice that your grass is becoming uneven or growing at different rates there could be an additional factor unique to those sections of the lawn which appear to be affected.
The most common reasons are:
-Temperature – if the patch of grass is frequently hidden form sunlight or shaded by a tree or building it may need more attention that the remaining lawn.
-Moisture – moisture affects the rate of growth. Too much and the soil becomes waterlogged but too little and the grass won’t have enough to grow. It could be that moisture is coming from the rain and some patches are more protected from the elements therefore receiving varying exposure than the rest of the lawn. Thatch level could also be a reason…
-Thatch levels – the thatch is a layer grass which has collected at the soil surface. This can affect the amount of moisture the soil receives but also the exposure to light and can hinder the ability for the grass plant to grow and move through the soil. To tackle this you can use a thatch rake.
To prevent thatch, ensure debris and leaves are removed from the lawn before they decompose and develop a layer of thatch.
-Uneven treatments – it is important when fertilising the grass to spread the fertiliser evenly otherwise it may cause your grass to grow unevenly. A thick layer of thatch can also stop treatments from reaching the soil which may also be a potential, reason for uneven growth.
-Varying grass types – ideally, your grass should only be one type but if you have inherited a lawn from previous occupants it could be the case that the grass is made up of varying types. Each grass type (as per the table above) requires different levels of care.
How Often Should I Mow the Lawn?
How frequently you use a lawn mower to cut your lawn depends on the type of grass and the time of year. Generally, your lawn requires less maintenance in the winter months but as soon as spring comes mowing the lawn can be needed from 1-2 times a week. The frequency of mowing the lawn also depends on your preferred grass height and the climate. If the weather is very hot it is recommended that you let the grass grow longer, to prevent the sun from drying out the soil. This is a common reason why grass turns yellow.
Grass Disease. What Should I Look for and How Do I Treat It?
Lawn disease if not identified and treated can spread quickly so it’s best to arm yourself with the knowledge of what grass disease looks like, the different types and how to treat it quickly. There are many variations of grass disease which can affect your lawn depending on the country you live in, temperature and time of year so we have broken down the features of the most common disease groups:
Top Tips on Preventing Lawn Disease:
Prevention is easier than curing, follow these tips to help avoid grass disease and keep your lawn healthy.
- Don’t water at night – water first thing in the morning to ensure the grass has enough time to dry before cooler temperatures creep in.
- Clear thatch – clear thatch regularly using a thatch rake to allow the grass room to grow and let any treatments enter the soil.
- Feed the lawn - twice a year with lawn feed to ensure the grass is strong.
- Don’t over water – little and often is usual best in the summer months. Go for twice a week unless it is particularly dry?
- Fertilise – invest in a fertilisation routine before the start of spring/summer and autumn/winter.
- Mow the lawn regularly – but don’t cut it too short! Short grass can be valuable to grass disease. Ensure the cutting height on your mower is set to at least 1-2 inches.
If you do spot the begging on any grass disease, no matter how small, it’s best to treat it quickly to stop it spreading.
Products to Look After Your Lawn
Taking care of your lawn requires you to have some specific equipment. The obvious choice is a lawn mower to let you cut the grass - hover lawn mowers and rotary mowers are the most common choice, however robot lawn mowers are now becoming more and more popular. These automatic lawn mowers cut the grass for you and cut the grass so finely, that there are no visible grass clippings. A grass trimmer is also beneficial as it lets you cut close to the edge of your lawn for a neat and tidy finish, and an electric lawn rake makes light work of removing moss and thatch from your lawn. The alternative to this is a spring tine garden rake, though this can be quite physically demanding work.