Summer is right on the doorstep. Soon everyone will be in the street will be outside and inviting family and friends over for barbecues and dinner parties. And when the sun comes out you will be wanting dig out your garden furniture from the shed and bath in the sun on your lawn.
The problem is though, because we live in the UK, we don’t get the sun too often, meaning that our gardens aren’t always in the best condition.
To prepare you for the sun season, here are some summer lawn care tips to get your backyard ready for action.
Mowing the grass
Every lawn in the country needs mowing; yours is no different. It is actually good for the grass as it increases the density of the lawn meaning that there is room for weeds to grow.
You should be looking to mow the lawn twice a week on average over the summer. There should be sufficient moisture in the air to keep your lawn healthy enough that it won’t die from regular trims.
Areas of grass that are covered by lots of shade should be mowed less often than the rest of the grass as the more sunlit sections will grow quicker. Too much mowing in the shaded areas can cause an uneven surface.
You should also avoid mowing the lawn when it is wet from rain or watering as this can cause damage to the soil. Wait until it has dried up before trimming.
When it comes to the mowing itself, the tricky part is getting the ideal length of grass to get that sharp and professional look to it.
For a great summer lawn, look to trim the grass down to an inch in length.
For those of you that are looking for a Wimbledon style lawn length, you should be cutting your grass to just under half an inch in length; the actual measurement given by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club themselves is 8mm.
Stay away from cutting the lawn any shorter than this as this will mean that your grass will become weak and become more prone to invasion by weeds and other pests.
This is likely going to be the most used piece of equipment you will use when maintaining your lawn for the summer so getting your selection right is important.
If you are looking for an actual lawn mower, the important thing to keep in mind is the size of your garden; there is no point in forking out on a big fancy machine if you can barely fit it in!
The bigger the lawn, the more i would recommend a mower with a wider cut. It will take a lot less time to finish the job and will give it a smoother and cleaner finish. Likewise, smaller gardens will require a narrower cut.
Watering the grass during the summer
Even in the UK, there will be less rain in the summer. The longer the grass goes without watering it turns brown, stops growing and the soil turns hard so it’s important to keep your lawn hydrated so it remains healthy and luscious.
Most of the time, the rains will be enough to keep the grass from going bad but just pay attention to the weather and look out for any extended periods of time where rain is not expected. Make sure you water the lawn before it starts to turn a yellowy brown colour.
If the ground does become hard, before putting any water on it, give it a thorough spiking with a fork to open it up. By doing so enables the water to actually seep into the soil and hydrate it. If you don’t fork the hard soil, the water will just run off.
Another tip when watering your lawn in summer is to not do it every day and instead look to water it around twice a week. This is because daily watering gives your grass a shallow root system, resulting in a weaker turf that will actually dry out a lot quicker. In contrast, watering your lawn twice a week creates a deep root system, resulting stronger grass.
Different soil types require different amounts of water. Most soils can be categorised into either clay or sand based but even then they will have different makeups of minerals etc so it is difficult to have a ‘one way fits all’ method of watering.
The general rule is that if you can’t fit at least half a prong of pitchfork in, the soil has not been watered enough.
When to water
The best time to water your lawn is in the morning as the air is usually cooler compared to other times during the day.
The afternoons tend to be hotter which can mean that the water could potentially evaporate leaving the grass without. If you water in the evenings, there is a risk that water is cool enough to stick the the shoots overnight which can encourage fungi.
Watering your lawn too often or at the incorrect time of day can encourage weeds, moss, diseases. Watering your lawn can be more damaging than by not watering it at all.l
Feeding the grass
The benefit of feeding the grass is that when it grows, it can develop more shoots which will make your grass look thicker and leave less patches in the lawn.
The garden will also become susceptible to weed and moss invasions. These thrive best in environments that are low in nutrients so keeping your law well fed can combat this.
If you do have some weeds or moss in your lawn you can get feed that is combined with pest killers. The best feed you can give to your lawn keeps it healthy while preventing weed and moss growth at the same time.
In dry conditions, avoid feeding the lawn and wait until there is sufficient water in the soil before applying the feed.
It is recommended that you give your lawn feed on a 6 week basis. This gives the garden enough time to absorb and process the nutrients at optimal rate.
Your soil composition may not be fully loaded with all the necessary micro-nutrients needed to keep your lawn healthy. By applying a fertiliser to your lawn you can provide them with everything that it needs.
The benefits of applying fertiliser to your grass are plentiful; the nutrients aid the production of chlorophyll to enable photosynthesis, they encourage rooting and help build cells to assist in growth.
Aerating your lawn is essential part of maintaining a healthy lawn this summer. It involves creating holes in your lawn, make it less dense which allows extra oxygen in the air down to the roots in the soil.
The more space that is created from aerating also creates extra space to store water for your lawn. It improves drainage so water cannot lay on top of the soil and wash away while also providing greater depth to the lawn for roots to expand and grow.
Poor air flow in your lawn can cause thatching. As there is not much room for water or air to pass through, good soil microbes and other organisms such as worms cannot survive. Once a plant dies, the microbes break it down creating room for newer plants to grow and die and so on and so forth.
Without the microbes, once the plants die, they are not broken down and start to form a layer of thatch. If built up enough, this thatch layer can prevent water, oxygen and nutrients from reaching the roots of your lawn.
What to do
A way you can improve air flow to your lawn is by spiking the it with a pitchfork or lawn spiker but be wary of the potential squeezing effect this can have in your soil.
As your push your fork down, the soil will become more compact which what you are trying to avoid from aeration in the first place. This is more common in soils that are more rich in clay than sand based soil.
If this is the case, another technique you can be looking to use for aeration is by using a tine aerator tool. This will create lots more holes to allow air flow while minimising the amount of soil clumping together.
When using a tine aerator, you will find that it will leave behind cores of soil on top of your lawn. The best way to distribute the soil is by actually using your lawn mower. This is because the rotary motion of the blade will distribute the soil back out evenly.
There will be areas of your lawn that will be more compact than others due to common uses such as where you put up a washing line and walk on a specific path of grass to get there. These sections of turf will need aerating more often than others.
Of course, you can always seek professional expertise to get the most effective results.
Not all pests are bad. Despite them being unsightly, some can actually be beneficial to your lawn. Here are some tips about what to so with some of the most common bugs that you will come across in your lawn this summer.
Pests such as ants can be troublesome. They are not only problematic to the way it looks but also affects its health and wellbeing.
When they start to build their nests, they cause damage to the groot systems. They also pose a threat the a lawn mower; if they become large they can make the mowing process difficult and can even cause damage to the blades if they get caught up in a mound.
A solution to removing the mound as safely as possible is by pouring or spraying hot soapy water over the area, or even just by sweeping it away.
Having said all of this, although they can be annoying, ants can actually provide a benefit to your garden as well.
This is because they act as a natural pest control agent themselves; they are known to eat the larvae of most other lawn pests that are spawned in the foots of the grass. Of course you wouldn’t notice this as it happens underground.
Similar to ants, bees are likely to cause holes in your turf. These types of bees are known as miner bees but they do not carry round a stinger. Miner bees can actually benefit your lawn a they will create vital small air holes in the soil to provide ventilation.
Having bees resident in your lawn is a sign that your turf is healthy and has created an optimal living environment for your grass.