It’s early Spring and the lawn is very much on the minds of those who have them. Sometimes it’s an eager checking of dampness and growing state in anticipation of the renewing of the sturdy green sward, sometimes it’s a sigh at the thought of the weekly trudge up and down the green space, clipping it neatly into submission. Sometimes it’s an all out groan at the state of what was lawn before the winter hit, (see below). Ours, at the front of a shared apartment building, completely collapsed after being used as a storage and working space by a team of roofers re-roofing the house over the winter. The spatterings of the concrete mixer, the crushing of stems under piles of rafters and terracotta tiles and the endless tramping from heavy booted feet have all taken their toll on what was never the best bit of grass to be truthful.
So to urge me to action to repair and renovate this patch and to inspire some others to do the odd bit of lawn sprucing I am posting a short series on ‘how to LAWN’ with some show and tell all images.
This is the state of the patch today (March), it’s been a mild winter so the grass has continued to grow through slowly, the border edge has all but disappeared and there is no sward to speak of, certainly not on the edges, not on the ‘desire line’ paths that have formed by residents cutting corners (not visible). This lawn has been shawn very short but if yours is longer, give it a long first cut (mower on highest setting) before doing any work.
The first job here is to remove thatch (old grass clippings) and moss . There are a couple of options to remove mosses in the sward. A scarifier can be used, operates a bit like a lawn mower and is pushed over the lawn area, it takes out the dead material and mosses, often leaving gaps on the lawn that will need attention later. Alternatively a Spring Tined Lawn Rake can be used to rake through the lawn and remove the mosses. The latter is excellent for working out the shoulder muscles! The benefits of this step are to remove planty interlopers and therefore competitors to your grass plants.
The second step is to aerate the lawn area which can be done with an Aerator. There are several types from Spike Aerator Shoes, simple mutli tine barrels that are walked up and down to Hollow Tine fork like tools or even lawnmower like ones that effectively do both scarifying and aerating (blade change needed on some models). Alternatively aerating can be achieved with a garden fork, plunged into the ground wiggled around a little and removed. I usually make horizontal lines up the lawn area, forking lines at one pace apart, which in my case is about 700mm. A bit like forking over a pastry pie base before putting it in the oven. The point of the holes is to allow air pockets in the ground which the roots of the grass plant need to thrive.
To keep the airflow going a simple sandy mix or specialist Lawn Sand which adds a grass fertiliser and kills mosses. Sand can be scattered on the area and then simply brushed into the holes, for Lawn sands and specialist mixes always follow the manufacturers instructions carefully.
After all that it’s time for a cup of tea and a sit down, waiting several weeks before growing weather really kicks in then it’s time for step 3, reseeding the bald patches!