To fully understand why it is necessary to feed a lawn, and when you should, it is helpful to know a little about grasses as plants. All plants use their leaves in the food assimilation process which then keeps them healthy most of the time and are able to go through life without too much help or hindrance from human beings.
The lawn in the image, never gets fed - and rarely watered! It is subjected to the public walking over it week in week out!
If you strip the leaves off a perennial plant, they will normally re grow but a little bit smaller and weaker. If you keep taking the leaves off, the plant will eventually weaken and die. No matter how good the soil below is, if the plant cannot turn soil chemicals into the food that it requires, it will starve.
Leaves are responsible for assimilation of soil chemicals into life-giving nutrients to feed the whole plant. The stem, roots, flower buds and new leaves; all are dependent upon those life-supporting leaves.
As an analogy, if you place a sheet of black plastic over a patch of weeds, they will eventually die even the roots of stubborn weed plants such as nettles and ground elder. The sheet will stop the sunlight, which the leaves need to carry out their work of photosynthesis; they will firstly turn yellow before dying, along with the rest of the weed plant!
Lawn at Great Comp Garden
The lawn is made up of thousands of individual plants. It is not a single entity in itself! If you buy a 'turf' you are purchasing a patch of lawn which consist of several thousand plants!
When grasses are used in the lawn, they suffer all manner of abuse from gardeners, who would not dream of treating other plants in the same way! For instance, we do not prune our shrubs every week, nor cut down our perennials or annuals on a regular basis. But, we need to do this with our lawns (grass plants) to keep them tidy, accessible and under control. We do this without too much thought as to what we are doing to them as plants!
This regular pruning of grasses in the lawn, results in both the food reserves and food-making properties of the foliage being removed from the plants your lawn grasses!
It is a fact that if you allow your grass to grow a little longer even with a regular trim it will normally stay greener, without too much additional help by way of fertilisers. This is because you are then leaving a good percentage of the foliage intact even if you have clipped its wings a little! It can carry its work albeit in a reduced manner! So now you will have grass that can take care of its feed requirements in a reasonably normal manner. It will reward you by staying greener even if not quite the artificial lush green of a fertilised lawns.
A lawn allowed to grow in this way, will have a much healthier grasses than a lawn of artificially fed grasses with feed which has a high proportion of Nitrogen. The high Nitrogen level is necessary to compensate for the lack of foliage which is essential for normal health!
I would argue with no proof that allowing the grass plants to grow as normally as possible, will ultimately strengthens them as whole plants. One then has to ponder whether there is a need for supplementary feeding with a high Potash Fertiliser to help the roots get through the winter!
In my days as a public park manager, responsible for a few hundred acres of grass which varied from bowling greens through to housing estate verges, I never recall feeding any grasses other than the well-clipped sports areas. Financial cutbacks meant the end of autumn feed on the sports turf also, but I never saw any evidence of grasses dying through the winter, or even getting a better start to life in the spring!
Yes, lawns require special form of maintenance including aeration in some instances, and top-dressing also. But it is hard to justify the habitual feeding regime advocated as being essential. But then I am not in the chemicals industry!
The First Cut
The spring season is an important time for getting your lawn into top shape for the following months. What you do now in the spring by way of lawn care, will determine how well your lawn will cope with the wear and tear of day to day use, and also its ability to withstand drought or even water-logging during the summer months.
Lawn Care Main
Lawns take up a lot of time compared with most aspects of the garden. In spite of the time and care lavished upon lawns, many fail to live up to expectations. Maybe the expectations are too great to start with. Problem being, that next door and surrounding areas seem to have better lawns!
Throwing money at an established lawn or patch of straw is not always the best way forward - neither the most successful in terms of attaining the quality lawn that you want. It is always a good ide to take a step backward, to see what the problem really is with the lawn. More often than not it will be something to do with your lawn care regime.
Not all lawns need aeration; but most do! Soil Compaction drives air out of the soil. A garden lawn is probably the most hostile environment provided by gardeners in furtherance of obtaining a beautiful garden. This is one reason for aerating a lawn. No other plant / grass are subjected to such willful abuse than the grass on the garden lawn, it needs care!
Top Dressing Lawns
Top Dressing of Lawns is beneficial. It encourages new basal growth of the grass plants - giving a thicker sward of grass. Top Dressing is also a good way to 'level out' the bumps and hollows in an uneven lawn.
Top dressing is normally carried out in mid spring. It can be done at any time in the growing season (March-October), but a dressing in the spring soon 'disappears' under the resultant lush lawn growth. Earlier in the growing season - but not in the autumn - a suitable fertiliser or feed can be added to the top dressing to give that little bit extra.
There are many and varied problems associated with keeping a good - or even reasonable - lawn. Quite often the problems are caused by something quite simple. That is, if you know what to look for! Describing a lawn problem seems to be beyond many of the people who write emails to me for help. A brown spot is a brown spot is it not? Well, err no, not always.
Bumps in the Lawn
Ok! Let's get one thing right, straight away. You do not get a level lawn by using a roller. Using a roller, simply gives you hard bumps and hard hollows - and all the bits in between.
In fact, unless you are going to carry out all of the other operations necessary for a first class lawn, you can get rid of the roller altogether - although I might concede that it is useful for a light run over before the first cut after the winter.
Brown Patches in Lawns
There are several causes of brown patches on lawns and other bare areas on the lawn, some are outlined below... Broadly, lawn brown patches can be split into three categories - depending upon the size of the patch. Recognising the size and shape of the patch - simple you might think - can go a long way in identifying the cause of the brown patch. I have had mails in the past where the write has claimed to have brown patches on the lawn, when in fact the entire lawn was brown - killed off by the wrong use of a certain weedkiller!
Lawn Moss Killer
If you really want to eradicate moss from your lawn, then you have to find out the actual problem that is causing it, rather than just treating it. The reasons are various, but not too difficult to isolate.
They can be one or several of the causes outlined below.
The latter is also available as a ready to use 'Moss Gun' for small patches. Neither do anything by way of treating the basic problem of moss in lawns. They simply are simply Lawn Moss Treatments - killing the moss which is there. It will return. You can alsouse lawn sand
Moles in your Lawn
Moles are one of the most frustrating of all garden and lawn pests! They are rarely seen, but can cause absolute mayhem. The damage they do to plants is minimal, but if you are unfortunate enough to have moles in your garden, they will cause you more angst than an infestation of aphids! The main problem being, that they are so difficult to get rid of, and you normally see the damage they do, before you realize that you have a mole or so!
Cute little things they might be, but if your lawn is your pride an joy, or if it is just a nice lawn to sit and relax, the molehill trademark will soon turn you against them! One mole can wreak havoc in the garden, but a few and you have a potential disaster.
Fairy Rings in Lawns and Turf
Fairy rings in lawns normally start to show up in late spring or mid-summer. They then carry on growing right through until the autumn and usually into subsequent years. They are easily recognised by either of two or both trademarks. Once they have started, they will be visible throughout the year.
They are most commonly seen as dark green circles of lush grass in the lawn usually after they are a half a metre or so across, though they are visible at first as a tuft of dark green grass.
The Fairy rings may also be first noticed as a group of toadstools manifest in mid-summer. (Sometimes without the dark green grass!) Not all toadstools in the lawn are as a result of Fairy Rings.
Dogs Fouling Lawns | General problems
The main problem with dogs on lawns is that of the brown patches caused by bitches urinating. Male dogs are not such a problem in this respect, for they do it differently..
The brown patches tend to be a circular patch with bright green grass growing around the perimeter as the bitches urine eventually breaks down to Nitrogen, which then feeds the area outside the actual damage. The brown patch is basically scorching - similar to that caused by applying too much fertilizer - especially in dry conditions.
Treatment by soaking the area with water - immediately after the bitch has done the deed! Soaking the brown patches after they have formed will be absolutely essential if you are going to over-seed the patches.
Lawn and Garden Edging
Garden lawns have to stop at some point, often causing a minor problem as to how to end or edge your garden with your lawn. Much will depend upon the style of your garden, but you will also have to take into account basic things like, the type of lawn mower you want to use, and even the basics of, how much time do you want to spend giving your lawn a neat finish!
It is not normally a good idea to simply end your lawn at the boundary of your garden edge; against a wall or fence. This will inevitably lead to either additional maintenance work - or an untidy finish, where the mower blade cannot quite get to the edges of the turf at the garden border edge.
Feeding a lawn is a relatively simple operation, but so many get it wrong, or do it when it it not necessary! Here's how and when to do it; and what to use.
Each of the aspects are important. Do it at the wrong time and you could end up with a weakened lawn. Use the wrong feed and scorching or unhealthy grass can result.
The process that causes most problems, is simply that of putting your fertiliser on the grass! Uneven application leads to a patch lawn at best, and a ruined lawn at worst!
The big sign outside the garden store commanded WINTERIZE YOUR LAWN.
I've fed the lawn: I've watered the lawn: I've mowed the lawn: raked it and watched a lot of it die anyway. Now I'm supposed to winterize my lawn? I hope it's not too late.
Grass lawns have to be the stupidest thing we've come up with outside of the IRS! We constantly battle dandelions, Queen Anne's lace, thistle, violets, chicory and clover that thrive naturally, so we can grow grass that must be nursed through an annual four-step chemical dependency.