Everything you need to know about grass

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…

lawn, garden outdoors

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:

Image Name Appearance Resolution
BERMUDA GRASS
(commonly grown in Australia, Africa, India, South America and the southern region of the US)
Typically best for hot, dry or tropical climates such as those in the United States. Normally used for residential use and sport fields or parks. Watering should not be frequent. Instead go for approx. 1 inch of water weekly during hot or dry periods.
Mowing should be done frequently at a height of 1-2 inches, preferably with a mower which mulches clippings back onto the lawn to help feed the soil and retain moisture.
GRASS RYE GRASS
(commonly grown in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and central Asia)
Good for weathering both cool and hot temperatures this grass type is described as ‘cool-season grass’. Although regions with mild winters and cool moist summers are preferable, this grass can survive most conditions. Watering should happen twice a week with at least 1 inch per application. Increasing in frequency during very hot weather.
This grass has a low growth rate which means you can mow with a cutting height of 1 - 2 1/2 inches.
grass CENTIPEDE GRASS
(commonly grown in China, Southeast Asia and the southern region of the US)
Found mainly in hot and humid climates this grass is fairly low maintenance as it grows well in hot temperatures, but is sensitive to lower temperatures. Watering should not be frequent. Instead go for approx. 1 inch of water weekly during hot or dry periods.
Mowing should be done frequently at a height of 1-2 inches, preferably with a mower which mulches clippings back onto the lawn to help feed the soil and retain moisture.
grass TALL FESCUE
(commonly found in Europe and north America)
This cool-season grass has a moderate density with a more extensive root system than any other cool-season turf grass so is ideal for moderately cold winters and warm summers. Avoid frequent, shallow watering instead opting for every 3 to 7 days with a 0.5-1inch of water soaking. The optimum mowing height is 2 to 3 inches, preferably with a lawnmower which mulches clippings back onto the lawn to help feed the soil..
grass FINE FESCUE
(commonly found in northern US, Canada, the costal areas where summers are cool)
This grass blade has the finest grass blades of any lawn grass. Although it is ideal for cooler summers and high altitudes it can do well even in very cold climates. Fine Fescue is very low maintenance and only requires 1 inch of water soaking once a week during the summer.
Mowing regularly with a cutting height of 1 – 2.5 inches with or without clippings will suffice as fine fescue grass does not develop thatch.
grass RED FESCUE
(Is widespread across much of the Northern Hemisphere)
A cool-season grass that’s ideal for a lawn with shaded areas. Although adaptable it doesn’t grow well in very hot climates. Watering this grass just once a week is fine with 1 inch of water soaking.
When mowing, go for a cutting height of between 2 - 2.5 inches
grass ANNUAL MEADOW GRASS
(commonly found in the UK and Europe)
Want a lawn fit to rival a British bowling green? This grass is for you. Particularly sensitive to drought, it grows well in cooler, wet weather. When watering annual meadow grass think little and often. Frequent light watering during the day is ideal.
Depending on your desired finish, this lawn grass can be mowed with a cutting height of as low as 5mm.

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 mow 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.

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:

Image Name Appearance Resolution
grass RUST
Linked to its name, the infected grass will have a ‘rust colour’ from the orange and yellow spores on the leaf surface. Rust can come at any time of year but the most common time is early summer to late autumn Humidity, low fertility and infrequent mowing and maintenance are the main causes of grass rust.
To tackle this, ensure regular mowing and follow a fertiliser routine with a focus on ensuring plant protection.
grass RED THREAD You can spot Red Thread by its small, brown patches on the lawn. On closer inspection, the grass plant will have small, red ‘needles’ protruding from the diseased leaf. This disease will strike in summer months or during periods of high humidity.
The causes are usually drought, thick thatch, lack of feed and infrequent mowing.
grass FUSARIUM Look out for small circles of yellow patches. Once these patches have established they can turn brown and can kill the grass so it is key to catch it in the initial stages. A thick layer of thatch is the usual suspect for causing Fusarium disease.
Ensure thatch is tackled with a scarifier and the grass is well ventilated.
grass LEAF SPOT Brown spots appear in the leaves of the grass plant signalling its infection.
If the infection spreads to the entire leaf it will leave just a small strand of grass.
Most likely to occur in Smooth Stalked Meadow grass and Rye grass during summer months, when it is hot and humid.
Fungicides are used to treat this but an organic option is treating the infected grass by spraying with a solution of bicarbonate of soda and water. Be sure to use just ½ teaspoon per gallon of water.
grass FAIRY RINGS Fairy rings – not as innocent as they sound. You might spot them complete circles or arcs of stimulated grass growth. They can appear on lawns all over the world. Often caused by rotting wood or roots in the soil, there isn’t always a distinct, reason.
Fairy rings are very difficult to treat but you can help tackle them by removing excess thatch, keeping the lawn watered and mowing regularly. Any mushrooms caused can be raked to remove them.

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.

1200R
Robotic Robtoic Lawnmower 1200 R
Working area capacity (±20) 400 m²
Typical charging time 50 min
Alarm Yes
UltraGlide
UltraGlide Left Facing with Cable
Power 1800 W
Cutting width 36 cm
Cable length 12 m
Chevron 34VC
Chevron 34VC
Power 1400 W
Cutting width 34 cm
Roller Yes