A very frustrating March for the keen gardeners and turf growers. A fair amount of snow to start with, and subsequently the soil temperatures slow to get up to where they should be. Only in the second half of the month did the lawn care season start, and things are about to start moving very quickly...
Summary of this month's tasks:
Check the mower is in good order and get on the lawn when conditions are fit to do so. Reduce your height of cut slowly.
Look to aerate if possible. We want water away from the surface along with strong root growth.
Make a spring / summer fertiliser application.
A good time for scarification and over-seeding work.
The lawn should be cut anywhere between 2 and 4 times this month. By mid-month you should be down to your summer mowing height, which shouldn't be lower than 18mm. The lower you mow, the less leaf the plant has to produce food and the less root mass it can sustain. We have many lawns which look great at a 25-30mm mowing height - a shorter lawn does not mean improved colour.
Aeration will improve drainage, getting water away from the surface where it can cause problems including, but not limited to waterlogging, moss and disease, along with improving root depth and mass. Aeration also improves gaseous exchange, aiding the natural breakdown of thatch.
You're now too late for hollow tining as with a dry spell this could lead to cracking - more so in the more common clay based soils. Solid / pencil-tines would be perfect this time of year.
Now is a good time for a summer base feed of a slow release product which is balanced but high in nitrogen. Mind your application rate... Too high and you'll produce a grass factory this time of year, a sugar rush for the grass. Remember that it will work out cheaper for us to feed your lawn, and with superior products - good spreaders are not cheap.
You may want to treat for weeds at the end of the month when growth is stronger. Professional herbicides are only to be purchased and applied by those with the correct certification, however garden centres do provide some reasonable products for the domestic market. Look to spot treat. The best way to deal with weeds is by encouraging a dense grass coverage. If you have a fire fighting approach you will keep going around in circles. Look to address the cause of the problem.
Scarification, over-seeding, top-dressing
Dependent on the condition of your lawn, after mowing as close as 13mm you could utilise the above for a lawn rennovation. Scarification can be a little more vigorous than that in March as soil temperatures are warmer, lending themselves to better recovery for the healthy grasses.
If over-seeding, remember that seed needs good see to soil contact just like any other plant. Seed scattered on the surface will not germinate. Deep scarification or shallow surface spiking, following by brushing seed into the surface will achieve far better results. For optimal seed to soil contact, a light top dressing can be used to cover over any remaining seed. This will also help to smooth out any hollows in the lawn.