One of the great joys of gardening is walking out onto a beautifully green, weed-free lawn. Anyone with a natural lawn will know just how tricky this can be to achieve though.
We’re here to talk you through the best times to weed and feed your lawn for optimum results. You might not end up with a golf-course style manicured lawn, but you can achieve a healthy, green lawn to be proud of.
Why do I need to feed my lawn?
From being used as footie pitches to housing animals and being subjected to the wear and tear of daily life, our lawns work hard.
Grass is an unusual plant in that its new growth comes from the crown. This is the part of the plant where the root meets the shoot section, in line with the soil. That’s why we can mow grass over and over again throughout the warmer months of the year without it dying. We’re just cutting back the old growth.
Grass roots form an extensive network under the ground and creating a healthy environment for the roots means you’ll be rewarded with strong, healthy grass growth.
Although like all green plants, grass creates its own food through photosynthesis, we can boost the nutrients it needs to do so by adding specialist lawn food to the ground.
Feeding the lawn helps the grass to grow more strongly. This, in turn, helps to reduce the amount of dreaded weeds and moss that will take hold. Fertilising your lawn will help it to look lush and green, speed up its growth and improve disease resistance.
Different types of lawn feed
A trip to the garden centre or a quick internet search will show you that there are many, many different types of lawn feed. From all-in-one weed and feed solutions to separate feeds for specific soils, it can be hard to know what to go for.
The kind of feed your lawn needs largely depends on its condition. If you have a huge amount of moss and weeds, it’s probably best to avoid a specific weed and feed fertiliser, unless you want to be left with huge black patches that need raking out and re-seeding. You can boost the grass you have with a good quality feed and treat the weeds afterwards.
Lawn fertilisers work by adding essential nutrients like phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium into the soil. They can be fast-acting or slow release and granular, powdery or liquid form. Healthy soil means healthy plants, so adding fertiliser is the best way to ensure your lawn is as strong as it can be.
There are such a wide range of fertilisers available that you can choose products which are non-hazardous and completely safe for children and animals, and ones that won’t stain hard surfaces.
When is the best time to feed my lawn?
Spring is a good time to feed your lawn. Wait until the grass has started to grow again, usually during April, and give the lawn a couple of mows before applying the fertiliser.
It’s best to apply fertiliser to a freshly cut lawn as it needs as much time as possible to settle in before the next cut. You can apply the fertiliser carefully by hand (check the instructions and wear gloves if it contains harmful chemicals) or use a lawn spreader. A spreader is a much easier option for large areas and will make sure that the product is applied uniformly.
You can also apply a summer fertiliser in July and an autumn fertiliser in September. Be sure to read the instructions on the product before applying fertiliser as they may require different conditions. Some need to be watered in or applied to a wet lawn while others can be scattered and left.
When is the best time to weed my lawn?
Unless you’re prepared to spend literally hours of your life weeding, it’s never going to be possible to achieve a completely weed-free lawn. Generally speaking, weeds don’t really take hold until late spring and early summer, so if you time your spring lawn fertilising session just right, hopefully, you’ll have a lawn that’s thick and healthy enough to crowd out most of the weeds.
If you’ve chosen a specific weed and feed fertiliser, you can apply this to your lawn in the spring and again in autumn.
For the odd weed that appears after fertilising, you can either pull them up, making sure to get the whole root or apply spot herbicides that won’t kill the grass during the weed-growing season (which is a long old season!).
If you have a small lawn, you should be able to spot remove pesky dandelions, thistles and other weeds quite easily. I like to leave the daisies because they’re so pretty and my children (and the insects) love them. It’s easy to get into the habit of having a daily wander around the garden and pulling up a weed or three. Keep a weeding trowel handy to make the task much easier.
With a little effort, it’s really quite easy to boost your lawn and keep it looking lush for longer. Regular, weekly cuts throughout the summer and a good water in very dry periods will help to keep the grass in tip-top condition.
How often should I feed my lawn?
Lawn feed can be applied in spring once the grass is actively growing, in the summer and again in autumn. Be sure to read the instructions on the packet for full details as different feeds will require different applications. Some weed and feed solutions require a follow-up a few weeks later.
Can I overfeed a lawn?
If you apply too much fertiliser, then yes! An overfed lawn will discolour and possibly even die. Using a spreader and carefully following the instructions will help to avoid this.
I hate weeding, what can I do to make it easier?
Weeding is the bane of every gardener. Start by accepting that you’ll never have a completely weed-free lawn. Keep your grass well-fertilised and watered in the drier months, and spot remove large weeds and dandelions as much as possible. You’ll be surprised by how much difference a small but regular weed and a good quality fertiliser make to the lawn.