"I fought the lawn and the lawn won" - Internet quote
Once you have decided how your regime is to be run you can have a lawn as good as the best. If you have been following the Gardener’s Journal tips for lawns you’ll know we’ve talked about aerating and scarifying come the spring to counter moss and thatch. Before you do that you’ll be mowing and it’s recommended you start with a higher cut and gradually lower the tractor deck or adjust the mower height. Your grass is most probably a mixture of fine and coarse grasses.
When you close mow the fine grasses will predominate. Cut higher and the coarser grass dominates. Fine grasses can be mown to a half inch or less (10-15mm) whereas coarser grasses should be cut to allow ¾ inch (20m) of growth or more. Some grasses and weeds die back when they are cut very short but others, and that includes the weeds, can thrive with close mowing. Get to know your grass and you’ll find the ideal cutting height for your lawn with each successive cut through spring and into summer. Before then, towards the end of March you should consider ‘overseeding’.
Over time grass can thin and weaken, causing patches and bare areas. There will be a number of causes, from compaction to changes in the acidity due to fertilising, areas being shaded, thatch causing suffocation and various diseases; and the lawn becomes patchy in colour. Mowing has an effect on the composition of the grass and deterioration in the mix of grass can lead to one type becoming more dominant, taking over space left by grass that has died. This can lead to an untidy, sideways growth. In other words the lawn has won.
Overseeding or over-sowing is the process of injecting new seed into the lawn and on a small lawn you can rake the lawn thoroughly with a spring tine. The large lawn however will need lightly scarifying when conditions allow. The treatment of overseeding, scattering fresh seed amongst the existing grass plants will bring a uniform colour throughout the lawn. You also have the opportunity to choose different types of grass seed to suit your lawn, such as wear tolerant, shade tolerant or finer grass. Overseeding can be done after your first cuts of the season or in the autumn. Check the lawn for signs of thatch and deal with that first. If you’re happy that your grass is in good condition, and you’ll wait until autumn before overseeding, then top dressing will be beneficial in the coming weeks.