You’ve laid your beautiful new lawn – congratulations! Now you’ll want to keep it looking good. But what do you need to do to achieve that? And just as importantly, is there anything you shouldn’t do?
We’re here to answer those all-important questions. So if you’re wondering how to care for a new lawn, you’ve come to the right place! Read on for everything you need to know for a lawn that will make your neighbours green with envy …
How to Care for a New Lawn
1. Give your new grass plenty of water
New grass is thirsty stuff, so give it plenty to drink. Those fresh green blades are 80 per cent water. And it’s water that carries the nutrients needed for growth from the roots right to the tips.
Because the roots of new grass aren’t fully developed, they won’t be able to reach as far down into the soil to find water. So ensuring there’s sufficient moisture close to the surface of the soil is essential.
If you’ve sown your lawn from seed, take care with watering before the grass appears. You want the seeds to have enough moisture to germinate, but too forceful a jet can dislodge them. Instead, use a fine spray pattern with your hose, or a rose with small holes on your watering can.
If there’s been no rain between two and three days after sowing the seed, that’s the time to water. And if you’ve laid turf, the golden rule is not to let it dry out.
It will take around two weeks for the shallow roots of the grass to start to extend into the soil. If temperatures are above 10 degrees Celsius, give your lawn a thorough watering every day during this period.
If it’s cooler than this, the grass will lose less water through evaporation. That means watering every couple of days will probably be sufficient.
If you’ve laid turf, you can quickly check whether your lawn needs watering by lifting a corner. The aim is to keep the underside of the soil damp, but not soaking wet.
2. Keep off the grass!
You know all those signs you see in manicured gardens asking you to keep off the grass? They’re there for good reason!
Avoid stressing your grass by avoiding walking on it while the roots are still growing. At this point in its development, the grass needs all its energy to go into those roots. That means if you damage the blades by walking on them, it won’t be able to spare the energy to repair itself.
If you need to walk over the grass in order to water it, lay some boards over it first and walk on those. That will distribute your weight more evenly and minimise the damage. Make sure you remove the boards again as quickly as possible.
If there’s a frost, don’t walk on new grass at all. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to stay off it for around three weeks after the turf has first been laid. After that, try to avoid heavy use for the first three months. The roots will then be well enough established for the grass to cope with normal traffic.
Bear in mind that different kinds of grass will be more or less resilient. Rye grasses will stand up to fairly heavy footfall, while ornamental or bowling green mixes are damaged far more easily.
If you’ve sown your lawn from seed, check the packaging. That will usually give you guidance on how long to leave newly established grass before walking on it.
3. Give your new grass a snack
Giving your grass a nutrient boost will help it grow thick and strong. Ideally, you’ll have fertilised your lawn bed before laying turf or sowing seed. if so, you won’t need to fertilise your lawn again for around six weeks.
But if you didn’t use a pre-turf fertiliser, you can still give the new grass a helping hand. How soon you should apply fertiliser after laying your lawn depends on the time of year.
In winter, the grass will hardly grow at all, and no fertiliser is needed. When the weather warms up to about 5 to 6 degrees Celsius, you can give it the first dose. After that, feed it every four to six weeks.
If you’ve laid your lawn in spring, wait four weeks afterwards if you didn’t fertilise the ground first. Use a fertiliser designed for use in spring and summer, and apply it according to the instructions. It can be a good idea to use a spreader to get even coverage.
If your lawn was laid in the summer, the grass will be growing more slowly. Apply your fertiliser after you’ve cut the grass three or four times. That will be about five weeks after your lawn was laid.
And for autumn-laid lawns, pre-turfing fertiliser will be sufficient if you used it. If you didn’t, apply a feed to the grass between four and six weeks after the lawn was laid. Use a formula low in nitrogen. You don’t want to stimulate lots of new blades of grass at this time of year. They’ll be vulnerable to disease.
Whatever time of year you laid your lawn, don’t use a fertiliser that incorporates a weedkiller. The formula is too strong for young grass and can damage it.
4. Get your mowing regime right
Mowing your grass will stimulate growth – but make sure you don’t do it too soon. If you get out the mower before the roots have properly established themselves, you risk pulling out your new grass.
There’s an easy way to test if your grass is ready. Just grab a few blades and give them a tug. If you feel the soil lift as you pull, you need to wait a little longer. But if the grass breaks off in your fingers, leaving the soil where it is, the roots are well embedded. It’s time to get out the lawnmower.
Before you get started, make sure that it’s in good shape. You want your blades to be clean and sharp so that they slice cleanly through the grass. That will avoid creating a jagged edge that will take longer to heal and could admit bacteria or pests.
Take it easy with that first cut – you just want to snip off the very tips of the grass. So put the mower on its highest setting.
Mow on a fine day when the grass is dry. (In autumn, you may have to compromise and do it when it’s damp.) Make sure you put the grass collecting box on. Grass cuttings need to be removed from the lawn or they’ll prevent light and air getting to the soil.
You can take the grass down slightly lower with each subsequent cut. The green bit is the energy store, so doing this gradually is key. Taking off too much will impair growth and the ability of the grass to repair itself. Aim to trim off no more than about a quarter of the blade with each cut.
5. Keep it tidy
It’s not just grass cuttings that can stop light and air getting to the surface of the soil. Garden furniture, toys and fallen leaves will all have exactly the same effect. Leaving them on your lawn will lead to yellow or bare patches.
Autumn leaves are a particular problem, because they also provide a haven for pests. Regularly raking them up, or blowing them away with a garden vacuum cleaner, will help keep your lawn looking good.
6. Dealing with fungi
If you’ve laid your new lawn with turf, it’s not uncommon to find fungi appearing soon afterwards. That’s because lots of grass contains fungi, and moving the turf can stimulate spores to spread and grow.
If they appear, don’t worry. They won’t damage your grass, and are actually a sign of a healthy growing environment. Many fungi are even beneficial to lawns, and they’ll die back within a few weeks. If you can live with them until then, it may be worth leaving them alone.
But if you can’t face waiting, there’s no need to attack them with chemicals. In fact, there are no fungicides formulated for use on lawns, in any case. Instead, just pull them out by hand.
If there’s a particularly dense patch of fungi anywhere on your lawn, it may be worth investigating further. If there’s any decaying matter under the soil, the fungi will be feeding on it.
Use a small sharp knife to excavate the area and check for any dead plants or roots. If you find anything, whip it out, then re-seed the area.
Enjoy your healthy green lawn!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to how to care for a new lawn. Regular watering, feeding and a sensible cutting regime will give you great results.
As with so many aspects of gardening, a little patience goes a long way. Avoid walking on your grass before it’s properly established. And cut it gradually shorter, so that it’s got time to recover between cuts. Your patience will be rewarded with a strong and healthy lawn.
Good luck, and happy gardening!