Gardening Times

I RECALL writing an article last year advising readers to aerate by digging over borders to allow the frost to break up the soil.

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This is also pertinent to lawns.

Lawns should be aerated in autumn to let deep penetrating frosts enter the ground to improve drainage over the winter. However, this didn't happen this winter as we had few frosts but lots of rain.

The cold weather may have turned your grass a poor colour, but it has also brought significant benefits to your soil.

Frost helps to break up and open the soil for better root growth in lawns.

Autumn, winter and spring have all been wet and although your autumn aeration will have helped, the continuous rainfall has most likely highlighted new wet areas of your lawn.

Aeration in spring can help the drainage of the garden. If your soil is particularly wet applying coarse sand to the area will help water move away from the surface.

A lot of our natural soils are clay - often referred to as cold soils as they can take a long time to heat up in spring and support good grass growth.

If moss is a problem now is the time to tackle it with a balanced fertiliser with iron (ferrous sulphate).

Correct application is important to avoid scorching areas of the lawn. Use a simple hand-held spreader or a wheeled drop spreader. Application in light rain helps the product to soak into the moss which will turn black in days.

The moss should be raked out 10-14 days after application using a springbok rake or a scarifying machine. Moss is a sign of existing problems such as poor drainage.

It is always important to protect the growth of the grass at this time of year by reducing no more than one third of the grass length during mowing. This allows the grass to stay strong and avoids the scalping that can lead to moss.

Once the moss has been removed it may be necessary to go over the lawn with a little grass seed to fill areas where the moss has crowded the grass out. If the lawn is to be used for budding sports stars, use a hard wearing grass seed such as ryegrass. If you want a fine lawn, use a finer grass such as fescues.

It may be necessary to apply a further application of fertiliser in late May/early June but avoid putting lots of fertiliser on which can lead to excessive soft growth.

If weeds are a problem consider a weed 'n' feed or a ready-to-use selective spray to route out daisies or dandelions. Alternatively use a daisy fork but be sure to fill any holes with a compost/seed mix to stop more weeds invading.


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