Spring lawn care

Martyn Cox / 10 April 2014 ( 22 March 2016 )

Read our guide to getting you lawn back to good health after winter, including when to mow and what to feed your lawn in spring.

An attractive lawn can set off your garden perfectly, but in spring most are in a sorry state. Never-ending downpours, cold weather and lack of maintenance over the past few months have left many looking tired and scruffy. 

Don’t give up on it yet. Spend a few hours giving your lawn some attention and you’ll be rewarded with a healthy emerald sward that will look fantastic throughout the season.

When to mow your lawn

Give your lawn its first spring mow in March, once the grass has had new growth for a few weeks. Mow when the grass is dry and not frosty.

The first mow of spring

Start with the lawn mower blades placed on their highest setting. The height of cut can be reduced as the season progresses and for most hard wearing, domestic lawns an eventual height of about 2.5cm is ideal - a luxury lawn containing finer-leaved grasses can be kept at just over 1cm high. After mowing, trim overhanging grass at the sides of the lawn with edging shears.

Related: guide to buying a lawn mower

Mowing around spring bulbs

Steer the mower around daffodils, crocus or other spring bulbs that are naturalised in the lawn. These should be left for at least six weeks after the flowers fade to allow the dying leaves to recharge bulbs for next year.

The sides of the lawn often takes a hammering and those on sandy soil are liable to crumble. Restore their shape with a half-moon cutting tool to leave a 7.5cm deep, vertical edge. If your lawn has straight sides, use a length of timber as a cutting guide.

Related: how to grow daffodils

How to remove lawn thatch

Over the course of the year, dead grass, weeds and moss can form a layer on top of the soil surface known as thatch that restricts growth and prevents water from reaching the roots of grass. This debris can easily be removed by gently raking the surface with a spring-tined rake.

How to aerate your compacted lawn

Heavy foot traffic last summer and autumn can result in parts of the lawn become compacted, leading to weak growth, invasion by moss and poor drainage. Fix problems by aerating. Plunge a garden fork into the ground as far as you can and wiggle it about to create deep channels. Repeat every 10cm or so over the affected area. Work some sharp sand or ready-made top dressing - a mixture of top soil and sand - into the holes with a broom.

Feeding your lawn

Excessive rainfall over winter washed a lot of nutrients out of the soil, leaving grass lacking vigour and looking a tad anaemic. Give them a quick pick-me-up with a granular or liquid spring lawn feed – these formulations are high in nitrogen, which will boost new growth. If you’re an organic gardener, you can green them up quickly by applying diluted seaweed extract (maxicrop.co.uk for stockists).

Related: how to improve your soil

Weeding your lawn

Some chemical lawn feeds contain a selected weed killer, but many dandelions, daisies, plantain and other perennial weeds can also be controlled by hand.

Those with shallow roots are easily lifted with a hand fork, while weeds with tap roots can be prised up with a long-handled weed pulling gadget. Fill any holes left by weeds with compost and press down the surrounding turf.

Visit the Saga Garden Centre to buy quality plants online

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.