Here are 6 ways to get your lawn ready for what’s going to be an early spring.
I’ve pinched myself, checked Google, dialed 123 to listen to the Talking Clock and asked random people in the street if it’s really February and they’ve all confirmed it is, which is bonkers because this weather is totally bonkers. Admittedly, people aren’t quite sure how to dress appropriately, by which I mean I’ve seen people dressed in wooly hats and duck down gilets walking next to people in shorts and string vests – and, no, neither one looked that confident with their decision (NB: it’s never a good idea to wear a string vest). But that’s not the point. The point is: this is not normal weather for what is the second page of any given calendar.
And it got me thinking — is spring going to come early this year?
The answer: probably.
There’s blossom on the trees, there are lawns that already need of a trim and there are people having picnics in the park like this is normal behaviour, all of which is worrying for two reasons. 1) Is there a Day After Tomorrow like natural disaster looming? And B) If growing a lush summer lawn is all about getting a head start before the growing season gets underway, do you need to start preparing your little slice of the great outdoors now.
The answer is: yes (to the second point, that is).
So get your gumboots on, your notebook out and take your feather duster to the garden shed because I’ve got six super-simple steps that will help you prep your lawn now so that you have the most Instagrammable lawn all summer long (and if that doesn’t earn me a space on your Christmas card list for 2019 I don’t know what will).
Step 1 – Tune It Up To 11
If there’s one thing you want to do now, before the sun starts making your lawn grow up faster than the youngest child in a family of five, it’s making sure your lawn mover is summer-ready because I’m guessing your lean, possibly green, grass-chopping machine is going to be getting it’s cut on a lot this summer. So, replace the spark plug, give the oil a change, grease up all the fittings, give it a new air filter, scrape the mowing deck until it’s glistening and, most importantly of all, give the blades a proper good sharpen. If you genuinely care about having a healthy lawn, the last thing you want to do is cut it with blades as blunt as a wooden spoon. That will make your grass oh-so-susceptible to disease. Oh and, as a little tip, stock up on string for your string-trimmer too. Not having string when you need it most is ridiculously annoyingly.
Step 2 – Take Your Spring Clean Outside
If there’s one thing that winter is really good at (other than making your boiler stop working at the most opportune moments) it’s making a right mess of your lawn. So why not make the most of this glorious weather and start spring cleaning now? Get your wheelbarrow out and start raking up all that debris – fallen twigs, any acorns your pseudo-pet squirrel has missed, those stones that have appeared from nowhere, branches, crisp packets your neighbour’s kids just left outside, lawn thatch and any dead leaves. Then chuck all this stuff into your garden waste wheelie-bin (everything except for the crisp packets, that is). Just try and wait for a dry and sunny day so that you don’t have to wear sixteen layers of wool to stay warm and you’re not stomping around on a soggy lawn, which will just compact the soil and wreak havoc on your lawn’s young and vulnerable grass shoots.
Step 3 – Weed Out The Nasties
No one wants to see a summer lawn covered in weeds. It’s like opening your barbecue on the first nice day and realising you forgot to clean it before the autumn. It’s gross. To prevent this (I’m talking about the weed thing), the best thing you can do is get me and my team over. But the second best thing you can do is apply some pre-emergent herbicide sometime between now and the beginning of spring. Think of it as giving your lawn a Sunday roast with all the trimmings, followed by a flu shot. Whatever weeds tend to pop up in your garden – crabgrass, dandelions, anything – they’ll have a tough time germinating, especially if you reapply this stuff in the middle of summer.
Step 4 – Feed It Some Fertiliser
You know how your granny always used to say now-cliche things, like, “Always treat others like you would like to be treated”? Well, that goes for grass too. Yup. What you treat your lawn with is just as important as how you treat it, and the best thing to treat it with is a dollop of spring fertiliser. It’s a surefire way to get your lawn off to a cracking start, especially if you’re drizzling slow-release fertiliser on your lawn. Not only will this give your slab of turf all the nutrients it needs, it will deliver them slowly, over a long period of time, instead of all once, which is great because everyone knows that rushing your food will give you a sore tummy. You also won’t need to apply any more fertiliser for another six to eight weeks – woo woo.
Step 5 – Stop Your Lawn Going Bald
Looking in the mirror and seeing that you’re going bald is almost as bad as looking out the window and seeing that your lawn is going bald. But unlike with your hair, filling in any bald spots on your lawn doesn’t require a £20,000 hair transplant sold to you by some ex-cricketer in the back of a magazine. You just need to sprinkle on some grass seed, and the best way to do this is to scratch the soil with a rake to loosen it a bit, and then sprinkle an even layer of seed over said area. Once you’ve done that, pick up your rake again and lightly rake the seeds into the soil, give it a good watering, and then ask your nearest farmer if you can have a sack of straw to cover it up with – not for aesthetic reasons, but to stop any birds filling their bellies and any overdue rain from washing away the seeds.
Step 6 – Mow Problems Here, Officer
By mid-summer, you’re probably going to hate mowing your lawn. I get that. But that first mow is awesome. The hum of your machine, the smell of freshly cut grass, the almost straight lines, the neatness and pride — it’s amazing. Just make sure you raise the deck of your mower pretty high (probably to its highest setting) otherwise you’re going to weaken your lawn on your first attempt at a trim. Ideally, you want to cut it at 3-4 inches high or you’ll run the risk of harming it so bad it gets a disease it struggles to recover from, along with some stunted growth and a garden that’s a less than satisfactory shade of green.