Grass plants do not live forever they deteriorate and their rate of reproduction slows down. Mature lawns often have areas of weak thin grass which allows moss and weeds to colonise the lawn. The best defence against weeds and moss is thick healthy grass sward. New seed should be regularly introduced into all lawns to replace the ageing plants. If you want your lawn to stay thick and dense then overseeding at least once every 3 years is desirable. Over seeding with a variety of different seed species can be carried out in the late winter or early spring and autumn particularly after you have scarified, aerated or top dressed your lawn.
Grass Seed Germination
Avoid sowing in extremes of temperature. Seed requires a ground temperature above 8c to germinate, shoots need several weeks without frost to survive. Seed requires 3 conditions; good soil contact, warmth and moisture. The spring and autumn are ideal germination times. Hot dry weather is bad as is cold wet weather. Wet and warm are the best conditions for seed germination and grass growth! Select seed that contains a broad selection of grass species. Aerating or spiking the lawn will assist seed germination. Seeds should be spread 20 cm2. Devon Lawn Care can provide overseeding, aerating, and top dressing services to help you develop a healthy thick lawn.
Hollow Tine Aeration
Soil, particularly heavy clay soils has a tendency to compact. The soil particles get pushed closer together by heavy rainfall or traffic on the surface making it difficult for moisture and gases essential for grass development to flow freely back and for through the soil to the roots and surface leading to poor root development. Poorly developed roots lead to weak grass and poor drought and disease tolerance.
Compacted ground can have serious consequences for any lawn but can be cured by simply aerating the soil. Devon Lawn Care can aerate your lawn and relieve compaction. We have professional aerating machines that move across the lawn surface punching metal spikes 2- 3 inches into the ground making hundreds of small holes in the lawn. The spikes can be hollow to enable them to pull a soil core out of the ground which helps remove troublesome thatch as well as aerating the ground. Lawns should be regularly aerated to ensure that the grass roots are healthy and can develop.
The Royal Horticultural Society recommends that lawns are spiked every 2 to 3 years and hollow tine aerated every 3 to 4 years
Heavy soils will become compacted and need to be hollow tine aerated to reduce the effects of the compaction in the soil and can be top dressed with a 70 % sand loam mix to improve soil ventilation once every 3 to 4 years.
Lawn Top Dressing
Top dressing is a vital part of lawn care maintenance and can be a key factor in making critical long term improvements to the health and condition and hence the appearance of any lawn.
The soil that a lawn depends on plays a major part in the development of the lawn. If you have thin sandy soils or heavy clay soils which are not ideal for lawns and you may need to add a top dressing. You can significantly improve the quality of your top soil by adding a specific mixture of top dressing to compliment and gradually change the properties of your existing soil.
If your lawn has heavy clay soil introducing a layer of fine sandy soil top dressing on the surface will stimulate grass growth, encourage greater rooting, improve surface drainage allowing the soil surface to dry out quicker thereby reducing the opportunity for moss to develop. Serious drainage problems can be solved by introducing simple land drainage. If you spike or hollow tine aerate your lawn and then top dress the sandy soil will find its way into the holes improving ventilation and reducing soil compaction.
Prevention is always better than the cure and preventing compaction and limiting damp soil surfaces will certainly make it more difficult for moss to develop. Thick healthy well fed grass also makes it difficult for weeds to develop.
Top dressing is labour intensive and sourcing the right quality top dressing can be difficult and expensive when delivery costs are calculated. Approximately 5kg of top dressing will cover 1 square metre. Grass seed can be added to the top dressing to thicken up the lawn. Top dressing is compared to varnishing a boat several layers have to be applied over a period of time.
Devon Lawn Care provides a comprehensive top dressing service which can be incorporated into a lawn care program. It is most effective in the autumn, early winter, spring and early summer particularly if you want to add grass seed to the mix. Devon Lawn Care can make top dressing your lawn a simple exercise. We order, source and spread the top dressing, working the dressing into your lawn using a level lute or drag mat.
Most lawn problems are caused by damp soil surfaces and thin grass growth due to, poorly fertilised and compacted soil. Combining spiking or hollow tine aeration and top dressing with over seeding is a significant proactive process improving the soil conditions and when combined with other seasonal treatments of fertiliser and herbicide helps to thicken up the grass and pre-empt other lawn problems.