The secret to having a gorgeous summer lawn is to give it TLC in spring. As temperatures rise and the soil warms, grass begins to flourish. With a little effort you’ll see that pallid, post-winter patch transform itself into a lustrous green sward – so the grass really will be greener on your side of the fence!
Check for weeds
Before you start feeding your lawn, it’s important to give weeds the flick – otherwise you’ll end up feeding them too! Small lawns can be hand-weeded, but for larger areas it’s easier to use a herbicide formulated to kill the weeds but not the grass. These products are available from nurseries as ready-to-use sprays or as concentrates that can be mixed up and applied via a watering can or spray bottle.
Lawns can become spongy over time as a layer of dead grass, known as thatch, builds up at the base of the grass. The problem with thatch is it prevents water and air from getting through to the roots. So in early spring, before you fertilise, remove the thatch layer by going over the entire lawn with a metal-tine rake. Press down firmly as you pull the rake in long, even strokes to remove as much thatch as possible. The result is a cleaned-up lawn, ready for aerating and feeding.
Aerate your grass
Aerating your lawn helps the soil breathe and, when done before fertilising, ensures thorough absorption of nutrients. It’s an important process because, over time, lawns compact due to regular use: they’re walked on, played on and enjoyed as a leisure zone. For the most basic aeration technique, use a large garden fork, sinking prongs in about 5cm deep, to work across the lawn in rows, or, use spiked aerator shoes and walk across your lawn in rows 15–20cm apart. If you have a large lawn to cover, hire a spiked roller to get the job done.
Give it a feed!
Having cleaned up and aerated the lawn, the next step is to feed it. This is when you’ll really see changes. Granular lawn foods are the best choice at this time of year, especially those that offer long-term gentle feeding, such as Yates Lawn Master or Scotts Lawn Builder Plus Organics. Spread them evenly by working in sections across the lawn and water in well after application. Later in the season (late spring and early summer), you can quickly green up the lawn by using one of the hose-end liquid lawn fertilisers – these are great for using before parties and other social events.
Lawns don’t appreciate being mown too low (aka ‘scalping’). While you might think you’re saving yourself work, you’re actually creating unhealthy turf. Exposing the soil causes the ground to dry out quickly and creates space for weeds to invade, so lift your mower to a height suited to the particular type of turf you’re growing. Here’s a general guide:
Note Use the upper height measure for winter mowing and the lower for summer.
Queensland Blue Couch 15–30mm
Carpet Grass 30–50mm