LAWN CARE | Tips & Best Practice

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N:P:K Explained

Fertilizers are generally made up of three nutrients vital to a 'plants' growth. There can then be some secondary trace nutrients added to enhance the fertilizer in specific ways. 

Nitrogen (N): Needed for plant growth and chlorophyll production.
Symptoms of Deficiency: Lightening of leaf colour from dark green (also see Iron (Fe)).

Phosphorus (P): Needed for root growth and also the breakdown of carbohydrates to provide energy.
Symptoms of Deficiency: Blackening of leaf edges.

Potassium (K): Needed to form strong cell membranes and aid in keeping the plant hardy.
Symptoms of Deficiency: Yellowing of leaves form the edges.

Secondary Nutrients:
Calcium (Ca): Builds cell walls and keeps up the vigor of the plant.
Symptoms of Deficiency: Curling leaves from the growing leaders and shoots.

Magnesium (Ma): Regulates the uptake of nutrients into the plant. It is contained in the chlorophyll of the plant.
Symptoms of Deficiency: Yellowing of the chlorophyll but not the leaf veins. Mottled yellowing.

Secondary Trace Nutrients:
Iron (Fe): This helps kill moss (although it turns it black and needs racking out), it also is used for chlorophyll production.
Symptoms of Deficiency: Leaf chlorosis, leaves turning yellow but veins staying dark green.
Lawn Care Plan

Spring - April - Scarification
Remove the bulk of moss and thatch from the turf.
Reason: Moss and thatch build-up restricts the permeation of water to the soil, restricts airflow around the plant, hold moisture around the stem of the plant which pressurizes and can cause rot and disease in the plant. After a wet, and at the moment mild, winter; moss thrives and needs a good hammering to get on top of it.

Late Spring - May - First Feed - 5:5:20 (+3%MgO & bacillus spp.)
Feed the lawn and moss control which works great after scarification. The high potassium figure might put some people off but this is a 
Reason: The feed is slow release and works by binding to the soil particles which stimulates soil health and root growth.
Our product contains a natural bacteria (bacillus spp.) which eats away at the thatch and the moss without any need to rake or any mess created.

Early Summer - June - Weed Control
Aims: Control weeds in the lawn. 
Reason: Taproots will help remove compaction and trefoils will flower an attract inspects into your lawn that will eat aphids etc. The downsides are aesthetics and also plant competition. Some of our clients have clover patches in their lawns, or wildflower corners of the garden to bring in the beneficial insects into their gardens.
In order to control broadleaf weeds, we remove them by mechanical hand tools. Smaller weeds might need just one pray initially and then with care, should be outcompeted and be minimal. 

Summer - July - Second Feed - 9:3:3 (+3%MgO)
General slow release feed.
Reason: The second feed is about balancing out the nutrients within the soil and keeping the plant fed just before its second growth spurt which occurs mid to late summer.

Late Summer - August - Soil Conditioning - Liquid Seaweed
Feeding the soil and stimulating natural enzymes, bacteria, soil microbiology, and creatures. 
Reason: Organic gardening is all about looking after the soil and is really just good gardening practice. If you look after the soil, its life, bacteria, and strata; you will have a plant that is self-sufficient, healthy and above all strong.

Early Autumn - September - Hollow-Tine Aeration
Aims: Alleviate soil compaction, encourage root spread, the option of soil correction
Reason: Compaction is a killer for healthy plant growth. Compaction does not allow water to permeate through the ground, pushes out any oxygen in topsoil, stunts growth and causes problems in adverse weather conditions such as drying out when hot and also puddling water when wet. It is a great opportunity to correct soil structure by adding sharp sand or fine compost into the hollows, this works great for heavy clay soils.

Late Autumn - October - Third Feed - 8:6:13 (+3%MgO)
To prepare the lawn for winter. 
Reason: This feed is all about root growth and getting the plant ready for winter. It also gives the lawn a boost with humifirst which is derived from organic manure containing humic and fulvic acids. This helps root growth, improves soil structure and is also great as a starter fertilizer when laying turf or seeding. 
Some Words of Advice

Phosphorus (P) - Too much phosphorus in the soil can have a negative effect on the soil, binding up the other nutrients if out of balance. This means that the plant cannot absorb and use the other nutrients in the soil, even though they are there in abundance. We monitor our lawns with soil tests.

Lawn Sand - Can also be used to combat moss and also improve the soil. Topdressing has gone slightly out of fashion and is time-consuming and costly to do. If you need topdressing to address undulating or pitted lawns, then I would suggest re-turfing the lot as you will get a better finish level wise and also aesthetically for not a huge amount more in cost. 
The Biggest Top Tip

Mow higher! Set your mower to 25mm (1").

This gives your turf:
  • A short enough cut to look smart
  • It keeps the grass long enough to recover quickly from each mow
  • It suppresses weeds by not allowing light to get through the foliage
  • With the grass being stronger, it is hard to out-compete for nutrients
  • Air can move through the grass and keep the ground dry without a bed of moss setting in