Fixing your lawn for summer
Does your lawn look like this?
It has rained so much in recent months. Lawns have taken a great deal of battering. Extremely wet conditions can cause grass roots to die off. Overly wet soil conditions can reduce the oxygen in the soil (the water replaces the oxygen). Areas that have been walked on will become compacted. This reduces the air spaces in the soil, which the grass needs to grow. The heavier, or high clay content your soil is, the worse it will be. The majority of soil in the Solent area in front of the South down hills have a high clay content.
Work needs to be done to get your lawn back to its best before the summer sets in. Your grass will probably need a good cut. For the first cut, set the blades higher, so less of the grass is cut. If you set the blades too low, it will cut the grass shorter. This will weaken the grass, and make it easier for weeds to grow in the lawn.
Once this is done, you need to loosen the compacted soil, to get the oxygen back in, so that the roots can grow. The process is called aerating. This produces healthier, stronger grass with better growth. To do this, use a garden fork, pushing it into the lawn, at spaces of approximately 15cm, to a depth of approximately 15cm. Once the fork is to the required depth, move the handle of the fork backward and forward to enlarge the holes in the lawn. These will become drainage holes.
The next step would be to mix loam with horticultural sand, the general ratio should be approximately one part soil/loam to nine parts sand. Use a stiff brush to brush the mixture across the lawn, into the holes created by the fork. This will result in a drainage system throughout the compacted lawn. For large lawns, or extremely heavy clay soils a hollow-time aerator can be used (these can be hired).
Following this moss and weeds should be removed. I would advise against using many shop bought herbicides, they are bad for the environment, and can make animals sick if it is ingested. There are environmentally friendly versions that can easily be made at home (drop me an email if you’re interested in making some). Once the weeds and moss are removed, the lawn initially will look worse, but it will give the grass roots more air, and more space for the grass to grow in to.
Walking on a very wet lawn, wears the lawn out, and kills the grass. It will become thin, and bald in patches. To fix this problem, rake up and loosen the soil and sprinkle a suitable grass seed mix into the area.
Lawns that have become waterlogged need to be ‘fed’. These are available in granular form, or liquid form. Make sure that you feed the lawn on a dry day. If it is due to rain, it will wash the feed away.
Once you have done all this, make sure everyone keeps off the lawn for a few weeks, to allow the lawn to flourish, grow, and harden. Good luck.