A beginner's guide to lawn care

Nick Moyle and Rich Hood

Spring is the perfect time to put your lawn back into the glorious shape it deserves to be in. Nick Moyle and Rich Hood have the perfect tips to do so

After the ravages of winter, the chances are that your lawn will be looking as shaggy and unkempt as a lockdown hairstyle. Spring is the time to take action, and time spent now will reap you rewards later in the year. Here are a few tips to get your lawn looking lovely for summertime fun.

Weed reduction

Weeds will have undoubtedly moved into your once pristine patch since you last paid it attention, so your first lawn job should be to oust them.

There are plenty of weed extraction tools on the market, but we find that one of the best is a standard, sturdy table knife. Just shove the blade down the side of the weed and lift, being careful to remove as much of the root as possible—perennial pests such as dandelions can grow back from the smallest of fragments. Repeat the procedure for any lawn intruders.

You might find that daisies (a particularly prevalent lawn-lover) are slightly trickier to extract. Regular mowing will help keep them at bay, and you can always try slashing the plants with a knife every week or so to weaken their grip. Wipe off any excess soil before slipping your new weeding tool back into the kitchen utensil drawer. This will prevent any awkward conversations with the rest of your household come teatime.

Thatch removal

Thatch cutting

Your lawn will also most likely be harbouring patches of moss—especially in the damp shady areas of your garden—so grab a lawn rake with springy tines and vigorously pull the rake across any moss-infected areas. It’s a job you should’ve done back in October really, but there will be no harm giving your lawn a once-over in spring as it will help stop its spread and it will make mowing a lot easier.

Birds love moss to line their nests, so leave a few piles here and there when you’ve finished so that they can help themselves to free soft furnishings.

Short cuts

Lawnmover

For your first cut of the year, make sure you raise the cutting head on your mower to its highest setting. Cutting your grass too close at this stage will weaken its roots and may lead to weedy problems later in the year. You can safely lower it for subsequent cuts, but it's always good practice not to completely scalp your lawn every time you mow—little and often tends to be the best policy for healthy grass.

Cutting edge

Cutting lawn

For a professional finishing flourish, trim the border edges of your lawn. Hand operated edge trimmers will give you the sharpest finish, but there are many grass strimmers currently on the market that have rotating heads that make the job a whole lot easier.

Remember, however, to wear eye protection when using one of these as they do tend to have a habit of viciously flicking stones up into the air. For the same reason, take care when edging near a greenhouse or conservatory.

Seedy business

seeding

To improve patchy areas and thicken your lawn you can deploy the technique known as “overseeding”, where grass seed is sown directly onto a lawn in spring or autumn

First off, choose the grass seed to match your existing lawn. A general-purpose mix tends to be used for family lawns, with a fine bladed blend usually reserved for lawns with grander, bowling green aspirations.

Mow your lawn nice and short then take your springy tined rake and remove any unwanted thatch (see “thatch removal”, above).

Grab a fork and spike over your patch, then scatter your chosen grass seed, using the back of your seed packet to guide you on the amount needed per square meter.

Water your lawn using a can with a fine rose (or sprinkler) and don’t go trampling over the area for a couple of weeks. It’s also worth covering the growing area with fleece until the seeds start to germinate, just to prevent birds enjoying a free feast at your expense.

Read more: Ruth Vallis: If I Ruled the World

Read more: 7 European music acts you need to know about

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter