A rich, green lawn safe for children and pets
If you’re anything like me, you love the idea of a hardwearing, rich, green lawn, but maybe you have children and pets, and don’t want to put harmful pesticides or weedkillers on your garden.
You also don’t have a huge amount of time or money to invest in your lawn, so you need tips that are cheap, quick and easy to follow.
I am going to tell you the simple steps you can follow to have a luxurious, thick, weed free, green lawn without using pesticide or weedkiller of any kind. Best of all, it won’t take a huge amount of work!
There are 4 basic steps to green grass heaven:
1) Leave the grass long.
This is by far the most important thing to remember: don’t cut your grass too short. Mow it just as often - up to once a week in the summer but set the mower blades to let it grow a bit taller and it will become thicker, greener and tougher. This slightly higher grass will smother out most of the weeds that can easily get established between shorter, weaker grass.
Most people cut their grass far too short, so that the first hot spell of the summer turns it brown. You want a lawn, not a bowling green, so keep the mower blades on their highest setting. Consult your mower manual to find out how to raise the cutting height.
A few mowers have a maximum height that is so high that the grass looks uncut and untidy. If this is the case with your mower, lower the blades to their next setting down.
2) Feed your lawn regularly
Remember that grass is a plant, and mowing it is like hard pruning it once a week. When you treat a growing thing like this, you need to feed it regularly to replenish nutrients. You only need to do this every 2 months during the growing season (mid spring to early autumn/fall)
Buy a cheap lawn feeding attachment for your hose and use a child and pet safe, nitrogen based lawn food. There are lots of these on the market. You’ll notice the grass getting much greener within a week of feeding it.
Don’t do this in the sun on a hot, dry day. This may burn the grass. Do it in the evening instead.
3) Water your lawn occasionally
Having nice, longer, thicker grass will lock moisture into the soil, however, very long hot spells will eventually begin to dry it out.
Most of the time, you won’t need to water the whole lawn, but just those small areas that are the first to look a bit parched (grass will start to look a bit blueish or faded before it turns brown and with a bit of practice you will get very good at spotting this)
Watering these vulnerable areas next to paving slabs or where the soil is thin will help to lock moisture into the rest of the lawn. Use rainwater from a water-butt to save money.
4) Hand weed your lawn a little
I know what you’re thinking: hand weeding is such a chore! But if you’ve been following steps 1, 2 and 3, very few weeds will get a foothold in your lawn. The thick grass will prevent most dandelions and daisies from getting established and regular feeding will retard clovers.
Once a month, walk the lawn looking for the occasional weed. Use a cutlery knife to lever the roots out for the ground without disturbing the surrounding grass. You can also use the blade to scrape out small patches of moss that are starting to get established.
Fifteen minutes a month is all it will take and you will have the peace of mind of knowing that there are no harmful pesticides or weedkillers on your lawn.
Advanced tips for a beautiful green lawn
Those are the basics, but for really excellent results, rake the lawn firmly with a metal tine rake in the spring to get the winter moss out of it before you give it the first cut. This will leave some holes in the grass that you will need to re-seed.
Some lawn experts recommend putting down worm killer to protect your lawn, but I say leave those worms alone! You will get worm casts all over your lawn in the winter and these will flatten and kill small patches of grass that you will need to re-seed in the spring, but don’t be cross – those worms are aerating the soil making the grass grow better next year, and saving you the horrible chore of spiking the lawn in the spring.
Also, if you have a dog with a tendency to “water” the lawn, keep a watering can on hand to wash the spot afterwards. Left to itself, dog urine will burn the grass. Diluted into the soil, it makes great lawn fertilizer!
My neighbors are always looking enviously at my rich, green lawn and asking me what my secret is. Well now you know.