A new lawn may look attractive but it will not stay this way without some love and attention.
It takes time for a new lawn to establish, so within the first year of ownership heavy use is to be avoided as the grass needs to establish a robust root system.
Spring and Summer
During the growing season, April to September, your lawn can be mown once a week, or twice a month if growth is less vigorous. Not cutting the lawn regularly will cause the grass to form tussocks, making the sward harder to cut and the appearance will deteriorate.
As a general rule grass cuttings should be removed. These can be put onto a compost heap. Leaving cuttings can be untidy and also thicken the sward making subsequent cutting difficult.
An annual application of a lawn fertiliser can boost the health of your lawn and aid recovery under heavy use.
Autumn and Winter
Your lawn will continue to grow but very slowly due to the cold weather. During this period, your lawn will struggle to recover from heavy use caused by any activity such as children playing, dogs exercising or simply a desire line across the lawn to the dustbin.
Due to the wet weather your lawn can become very damp. If a lawn is well used the soil will become compacted, impeding drainage and making matters worse, which then leads onto grass dying.
Leaves can fall onto your lawn, which if allowed to pile up, or left over winter, can block out light to the grass, preventing growth, which will eventually kill the grass. During the growing season this is not normally an issue as leaves will be picked up by the lawn mower. However, in the autumn and winter these should be raked up and moved off the lawn. These can be piled up on a flower bed to attract wildlife or added to a compost heap. In locations where there are numerous trees, this may have to be done weekly until no further leaves fall.
Try to manage use in the Autumn and Winter so that your lawn has a chance to recover.
There are many fertilisers on the market for your lawn. A lawn does not necessarily have to have fertiliser treatment. However, if your lawn is well used a good ‘feed and weed’ treatment in the spring will help your lawn to recover from heavy use. Do not over fertilise your lawn as this can be detrimental to its health. Always follow the guidance on the packaging. As an environmentally friendly alternative, there are several seaweed based products on the market that can be used instead.
Aeration. Your lawn will benefit from an annual forking over as it can become compacted underfoot. To alleviate this, push a standard garden fork into the turf at regular intervals across the lawn. This forms holes down into the lawn, allowing air in and water out, improving the health of both the soil and the turf. This treatment helps to prevent standing water issues.
Shade can be an issue for new lawns. Grass needs light to flourish, so in shaded locations the growth of grass will be restricted. It will take longer for grass to recover from heavy use and in some cases it may not be sustainable. An alternative surface treatment may be more appropriate such as gravel or paving slabs.
Moss can form within your lawn which can choke out the grass species. This can simply be raked out and removed or there are products to spread over your lawn that kill the moss. The moss will turn a dark brown or black colour, then again it can be raked out. In some gardens this may have to be done annually to keep the spread of moss to a minimum. The best way to prevent moss in an environmental way is to improve light conditions and the vigour of your grass. Moss can be raked out, without chemical treatment, but this method is more labour intensive!
Putting down boards or planks over your lawn to protect the turf from heavy loads as a temporary measure can be a good way to prevent compaction and damage. Longer than a week however and the grass will begin to suffer. Yellow grass, trapped under an object will normally recover and return to its normal colour after a week once back in the light.
Your lawn can be repaired by either cutting in new sections of turf or by re-seeding an area. Repairs will need time to grow and establish, before being used normally.
A lawn is a growing, living amenity. It does need looking after and cannot be used indefinitely without some care and attention.