Lawn tasks to ‘avoid’ for healthy spring grass or risk ‘bare patches’

Home Depot: How to ready your lawn for Spring

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Whether gardeners like it or not they’re going to have to change up their routine a bit during winter. Generally this is a great time of year for anyone who finds gardening a bit of a drag as there’s not a whole lot to do. For those who want to keep your garden in check though, there are some winter lawn care jobs you can still carry out even on the coldest days – some are even best saved for this time of year. Express.co.uk spoke to gardening expert Angela Slater at Hayes Garden World, who has shared a few tips on how to ensure lawns stay healthy throughout winter and until spring.

Avoid walking on lawns

She advised: “If the lawn is wet and waterlogged make sure you avoid walking over it as this can cause compaction and lead to even greater problems.

“A healthy lawn needs a good even distribution of air pockets to allow the grass to thrive and if the soil is compacted the grass cannot grow and you will be left with soil like concrete and bare patches.”

If gardeners notice that their lawn is suffering during wet, muddy weather, they are recommended to lay stepping stones through it to allow easy access. This is to ensure the grass stays healthy without causing damage by walking over it.

Walking on the grass when it is frosty can also be very damaging, warned Angela. This can also leave gardeners with “compacted patches” they will need to re-seed in the spring.

She said: “Do not walk on the grass if it is frosted as you will break the grass which can lead to brown patches.”

For those who are suffering from brown patches on their grass, they can easily repair it using edges or patches with turves cut out from other areas of the garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) then recommends cutting all lawn edges to crisp up its appearance, and save work next season.

Avoid keeping leaves on lawns

As well as not walking across the lawn, Angela advised gardeners to rake up leaves as soon as they accumulate as they can block the light, which can result in bare patches appearing on the grass.

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She said: “Don’t leave leaves on the lawn as you will be left with unsightly patches in the spring which may need re-seeding to bring them back to life. Always clear everything off the lawn in the autumn. This includes garden furniture, children’s toys and garden equipment.”

The leaves also prevent moisture reaching the grass, which limits its growth. To ensure a lush green lawn by spring, regularly brush or lightly rake leaves during the winter season to keep it free of debris.

Avoid leaving moss on lawns

When raking up the leaves, gardeners should also deal with any present moss that is growing on their lawn.

Angela said: “If you have mossy patches on the lawn, now is the time to do something about them. Using a spring tine rake, drag off as much moss as you can then go over it with a fork making lots of small holes. 

“Get some horticultural sand or John Innes soil-based compost and brush it into the holes to improve the drainage.

“The last thing you want is water sitting on the lawn over winter. If the result is a patchy lawn, wait until spring before scattering over some seed.”

Avoid using fertiliser

While autumn and spring are great times to treat lawns, avoid using fertiliser during winter. 

Due to the cold weather, grass may grow slower or have stopped growing altogether, meaning it won’t be able to recover from treatments.

The expert said: “Don’t feed your lawn in winter. The grass isn’t growing, so it isn’t taking up any nutrients. These will just get leeched out of the soil and be wasted.”

Avoid dogs urinating on lawns

In the winter lawns are especially sensitive. Dog urine, along with a number of other possible factors, can easily kill your lawn if allowed to do so. 

Angela urged: “If you have a female dog, don’t let it use the lawn as a toilet, otherwise you will be left with yellow patches which will need re-seeding.”

However, if your dog has used the lawn as a toilet, it can help to add a mixture of water and sugar to the soil in order to encourage microactivity. This, in turn, will help wash away the added urine to prevent brown spots more efficiently, according to the lawn pros at Revive.

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