It may have been a long winter and you're excited about Spring, but mowing, aerating and watering the lawn at the first sign of milder weather can be detrimental to your garden.
"To everything there is time, a season, and a purpose," and gardening works the same way: Sometimes you HAVE TO wait, rather than get ahead of yourself. Here are some tips and advice for having less weeds on your lawn and garden this season:
Wait to plant: The more you turn the soil in early to mid-May, the more you're disturbing those dormant weeds. It's best to wait until the end of March to begin raking, planting, and especially aerating the lawn. Poking holes in the grass when all the weeds are beginning to pop-up and spread their lovely seeds - will only give them an opportunity to fall in the holes and germinate. There will also be less damage from slugs and snails if you leave the little creatures be for now - maybe they'll visit the neighbours' lawn instead!
Mowing too soon, or too short? Prepare for more weeds. By mowing the lawn too soon, and cutting it too short, you'll only be giving those pesky dandelions more sunlight. Remember: Longer lawns = less weeds!
Watering? ALREADY? It has been a long, cold winter, and it has rained quite a bit. Watering the lawn is completely unnecessary, and it will actually create more mould and fungus. This mould will invite pesky bugs and weeds to your lawn. Let Mother Nature do the watering for now and once the weather is steadily milder, then watering will be fine.
Once you begin to water the gardens, remember the grass doesn't need that much watering - it should not be watered more than 2 to 3 times per week. During hot months, watering is also best done during the night (for those with automatic sprinkler systems who can schedule them) or first thing in the morning - the earlier the better - before the sun has an opportunity to heat up and evaporate the water before the lawn gets a good soaking.
Consider a grass replacement like Microclover: We have become so used to over-obsessing with having the "perfect lawn" that we spend too much time and money on watering, seeding, more watering, weeding, cutting, trimming the grass. Instead, overseed with microclover (available at most local gardening centres, or ordered online) for a perfect lawn all season long!
Microclover has many benefits, including:
- The ability to retain moisture, and need very little of it. You may even be able to skip watering altogether!
- It's a lovely sight with its tiny flowers, and a welcoming meal for bees and bunnies to feed on (you may not like rabbits on your lawn, but this way they will be too busy feasting on clover rather than on your flowers!).
- In time, they take over the lawn and weeds, covering completely with a soft and walkable turf.
- They resist drought quite well, you'll have the greenest garden of the neighbourhood!
- They're inexpensive: You can seed 3,000 square feet for about $25 dollars.
- Over time and with regular mowing, they will retain their height and some microclover owners have reported NEVER having to mow again. Imagine that!