April 2017 Lawn Diary
This Month in a Nutshell
Not a bad start to the year and a pleasant risk free March (most unusual) for your gardening pleasure. The Met Office predicts some good conditions to come (see outlook below) so it would appear the lawn care year has officially started - enjoy!
Summary 'to do' list for now through April:
- Moss Control
- Raking or light Scarifying
- Spot Weed Control
- Top Dressing
- Repairs and Seeding
Courtesy of the Met Office:
UK Outlook for Tuesday 4 Apr 2017 to Thursday 13 Apr 2017:
Tuesday will be largely cloudy but rather warm, with some light and patchy rain, but it will become drier and brighter by Wednesday, although cooler. By midweek, high pressure will become more dominant and the dry, bright weather will spread across much of country for a few days, with light winds. The greatest risk of thicker cloud and outbreaks of rain will be in the northwest, and the best of the sunshine and the warmest temperatures will be in the south. A good deal of settled and dry weather is then likely, especially in the south where it will be warm. More changeable weather will affect the northwest especially though, with some rain and strong winds at times.
UK Outlook for Friday 14 Apr 2017 to Friday 28 Apr 2017:
The middle of April may see more unsettled conditions for a while with short periods of cloud, rain and strong winds particularly affecting the north and west of the UK. Dry and calm conditions are more likely to dominate though, especially in the south and then later in the month for many. Temperatures are expected to be warmer than average, but with rather chilly nights at times, which will lead to frost in a few places. Any colder spells are likely to be short-lived however, although there are some hints that these may become more prevalent later in the month.
Grass cutting has usually started by now though a few more notherly areas may not have. Try and get on to it sooner rather than later as April can be a wet month which will speed growth but makes mowing difficult.
A few early mowing tips:
- 'Squeegee' the lawn in the morning to brush off any overnight dew
- Mow in the afternoon to allow the grass daytime drying time
- Keep the cut on the high side until you get to a more frequent mowing pattern
- Be careful with the turns as the ground can be soft
- Thoroughly clean the mower - wet grass sticks under the mower
For the mowing season you need to do two things: keep it clean and keep it sharp so starting off with sharp baldes in the spring is best but alas rare! If the grass is damp it can easily build up inside the mower so always give the mower a good brush, scrape or hose down after every use. Secondly, if you do a lot of mowing, then be prepared to sharpen or swap blades mid-year to maintain a clean cut. Order your spare blade now before the shelves empty!
This is the month to get your spring lawn feed into the lawn. The demands of the winter will have taken their toll and a spring feed is critical for a healthy lawn. Your timing will depend on how things are warming up in your part of the world. If you're doing any other lawn maintenance such as moss control and raking or scarifying, then put your lawn fertiliser in afterwards. Your weed control should be done after fertilising preferably in May or even June.
There are a variety of Lawnsmith® Fertilisers that can be applied at this time of year. The choice is simple and based around your soil and your enthusiasm for lawn care.
FAQ What fertiliser to use when over seeding an existing lawn? Normally you use the fertiliser appropriate to your soil type but when over seeding you need to help the new seedlings and your existing lawn so in this instance use a neutral fertiliser such Humber Palmer's Spring & Summer Excel or either of the Lawnsmith fertilisers for sandy soil. This is because there is a much wider range of neutrients in these fertilisers suitable for both young and established grasses; feeds for clay soil or the Starter fertiliser don't reach the parts that sandy will!
Once things start to warm the more common weeds such as dandelion will quickly appear though Woodrush and Celandine are now very obvious. Digging them out is about the only sure fire way of controlling them. See Weed Identification for more detail and control methods.
Don't start applying weed killer to the whole lawn just yet as many more weeds will come through over the next month or so. Plan on treating individual weeds with a Ready to Use Weed Killer or manually removing any obvious large weeds now. If there are too many, treat the whole lawn at the end of April or into May about two or more weeks after fertilising.
This hasn't been too bad a winter for moss but it is still where a lot of your effort should go if your lawn has suffered from heavy moss infestations. If you've been following our Moss Control Advice and the Lawn Diary you'll be up to speed with your lawn care programme. We did add an article to Lawn Care Advice last month based on what you were telling us up and down the country: not only did you confirm serious problems with moss but many were experiencing quite severe thinning of the grass. Here's the link to the article incase you missed it last month: Spring Lawn Repairs
This month is the best month for attacking the moss as the grass will soon be growing well. If you are just applying a ferrous sulphate based moss killer to control moss growth, then you can get on with it sooner rather than later but after you've done a medium to high cut on the lawn. This means you won't need to mow for a while after application and you'll have uncovered some moss giving better exposure to your treatment.
If on the other hand you're going the whole hog and raking the moss out your plans should include applying an iron or ferrous sulphate based Moss Killer, over seeding bare patches or even the whole lawn with appropriate grass seed and finally assisting recovery with fertiliser. See Scarifying & Raking for procedures. Raking in even early May is perfectly acceptable as long as there is ground moisture available for grass recovery.
Don't forget you don't HAVE to kill the moss before raking it out as applying a ferrous sulphate based moss killer after raking to kill what remains will be more effective. Treating before AND after is even more effective particularly if moss loves your lawn but you need at least three to four weeks between applications with cool wet conditions. See Moss Removal.
TIP: Good moisture levels around the grass and moss such as on a dewey morning helps the ferrous sulphate penetrate deeper. If there is no dew and the moss is dry then just give it a quick squirt with the sprinkler by walking up and down the lawn carrying it - it just needs a little damping.
Only if you have put grass seed or turf down, if moss needs a little wetting prior to spraying with ferrous sulphate or if it is dry after raking or scarifying.
Any form of lawn aeration is pretty much in order in April. This may be slitting, spiking or hollow tining. If you are using a hollow tine aerator do it sooner rather than later as the large holes help the lawn warm and drain. This can be a problem if the weather becomes warm and dry thereby causing the lawn to lose too much water. My cut-off for hollow tine aeration here in Yorkshire is mid to end of April so if you are in southern England early to mid-April and perhaps early May for Scotland.
As discussed in Lawn Aeration Advice, aeration is highly beneficial if done properly. Using lawn aerators such as a rolling aerator or aerator sandals makes it relatively easy. At the least you should be looking to use a hollow tine fork on the most trafficked areas around clothes lines, path-to-lawn entry points, kid's goal mouth and postman's shortcut. Add grass seed to any worn areas after aeration then fertilise the whole lawn.
This is the perfect time to get out the lawn raker or manual raker scarifier to remove old dry grass or moss. Remember that raking uses wire tines whereas scarifying uses blades. This means raking is unlikely to cause much damage whereas scarifying if done in a hurry will cause damage just at the time when weeds are becoming numerous. If possible use spring for raking and light scarifying with autumn the best time to really get stuck in to scarify and de-thatch the lawn. If the lawn is thin or has bare patches, particularly if the moss was bad get some grass seed in before nature puts in weed seeds! You can read how to do this properly in Over Sowing with New Grass Seed
Any and all lawn repair and renovation jobs can be done now. If you are planning on doing any turfing this is the end of the turfing period. Any turf laid after this month will require regular watering to establish.
Early spring is often a disease free time for lawns with red thread only occurring as humidity levels rise from May onwards.
Your main problems this month will be worm casts. Worms are beneficial in that they digest organic matter providing nutrients and enriching the soil. They also do some valuable aeration. A lawn with worms is generally far healthier than one without; therefore going around killing them to reduce casting is not a good idea. Fortunately the chemicals that did kill worms are no longer available.
The problem end of the worm is the cast and your lawn may be covered with them at this time of year. Brushing doesn't work when the casts are wet but you can reduce the casting. This can be done with one or more applications of Angus Downcast; a product specifically formulated for worm cast control. Alternatively, an application of Soluble Iron is ideal if you are already using it as part of a moss control program but not quite as effective at worm cast reduction as Downcast. These products work by making the lawn surface less palatable for the worm so they surface less or move into the borders. By applying either of these (not both in the same week) before the start of the mowing season you will reduce the casting problem giving a better cut and nicer lawn.
Consider this appropriate for the finest of lawns to consolidate any areas raised by worm activity and frost heave. Do this any time from now into May on relatively firm ground (not soft). Please note that rolling will not level a lawn, top dressing will.
Top dressing is an advanced lawn care procedure to reduce thatch and smooth the lawn surface. If you are not a lawn nut then I suggest you don't need to bother!
If you are, then as soon as you've got some good grass growth lower the mowing height prior to putting in your first top dressing. Application rates and frequency will vary depending on your goals and type of lawn so please read our top dressing advice.
This a great time to be creating a new lawn with grass seed or turf. With warmer temperatures on the horizon seed will germinate quickly. Getting seed in or turf down now, hopefully with the aid of spring showers is an opportunity not to be missed.
Lawnsmith Products from this diary:
- Lawnsmith® Fertilisers
- Iron or Ferrous Sulphate
- EVERGREEN Mosskil
- Ready to Use Weedkiller
- Lawnsmith® Grass Seed
- Lawn Aerators & Scarifier
- Angus Downcast
Thanks for visiting the Lawn Diary
Have a great month