Lawn Care Tips for May
Monday, 10 May, 2021
Posted in May Lawn Care Tips
The lawn should be cut on a weekly basis in May and the height of cut lowered gradually. No more than one third of the grass should be removed, any more than this will cause stress and stunting.
Lawn Weed Control
Weeds are growing rapidly in May so this is a good month for successful spray application due to maximum leaf area. Don't mow the lawn for a few days before spraying as we don't want to remove weed leaves. One application will control most weeds but deep-rooted plants may require a second treatment later in the year. A foliar feed can be added to the spray to encourage rapid greening of the lawn. Verticutting and light scarification will help control trailing weeds such as clover.
As the name suggests, this is 'vertical mowing', the blades will cut the growth of trailing weeds preventing them from being so invasive. It will also thin the sward and help remove dead leaf growth, therefore enabling lighter scarification in the autumn. Verticutting is a much lighter operation than scarifying, the blades don't touch the moss or thatch and remain in the leaf zone only. Verticutting can be carried out before the lawn is mown during the spring and summer but shouldn't be done in drought conditions as it will cause additional stress.
The lawn is growing rapidly in May but it may have sparse growth and weak colour, particularly if we are in a dry spell. There's probably very limited nutrition contained within the soil due to heavy winter rain leaching out the nitrogen so feeding is essential to help it through the summer months.
We use two types of spring/summer fertilisers:
- 3-month combined fast and slow release (which requires a follow-up treatment in mid-Summer).
- 6-month slow release which will last throughout the whole Summer. Ideal for general utility lawns, not suitable for fine turf.
There are advantages and disadvantages of both types of feed and we can advise on the most suitable. Both fertilisers contain slow-release nitrogen to encourage strong green growth, phosphate to encourage strong deep rooting (this will help survival in drought conditions) and potash to help build strength and disease resistance.
The lawn should be cut on a weekly basis in May and the height of cut lowered gradually. No more than one third of the grass should be removed, any more than this will cause stress and stunting, this is why fortnightly mowing can cause severe yellowing. In dry/drought conditions the height of cut should be raised to reduce stress and yellowing.
Most people now tend to use rotary mowers, either petrol or electric. We offer rotary and cylinder mowing:
- Cylinder mowing gives a better-quality cut but is only suitable for fine flat lawns. The scissor action of the blades gives a superior cut.
- Rotary mowing is ideal for general mowing of utility lawns, the clippings can be collected or mulched. We have either pedestrian mowers or small tractor mowers.
We offer cutting widths of 16", 21" or 31" in rotary mowers and 20" in cylinder. Prices are calculated on size of lawn in square metres... not per hour.
Lawn Moss Control
Not an ideal time of year to control moss but with the help of the homeowner irrigating on a regular basis it can be done! Moss is encouraged by many factors including: high/low pH, mower scalping, compaction, heavy shade & waterlogging. Unless these factors are corrected, moss will always return. Moss killing can be carried out from Autumn until Spring, once or several times, this will stop moss becoming too invasive. The treatment works rapidly and the results can be seen on the same day as treatment. The dead moss can be left to deteriorate or scarified out. It would be beneficial to aerate (spike) the lawn after moss treatment to allow the soil to breathe. Mosskillers tend to scorch the lawn as we get into warmer weather so April and May are the final months that we carry-out this task until Autumn, unless the lawn can be watered during dry spells.
Lawn Disease Control
Although it is a little early in the year, Red-Thread and Dollar Spot may be showing already. Both initially show as small round patches of dying grass and get larger and join together as the season progresses. Red Tread has a pink/red tinge to it whereas Dollar Spot tends to be 'straw' coloured and the dying/dead areas are fore more circular and symmetrical. Both can be controlled with a fungicide, applied twice per season. Improving growing conditions by spiking, scarifying and applying correct fertilisers will help to prevent disease attack.
Solid tine aeration can be carried out throughout the Spring and Summer. The reason for tining at this time of year is to aid water penetration through the moss and thatch layer, this will encourage deeper rooting therefore helping to tolerate drought conditions. Fertiliser application will also be aided by the nutrients reaching the rootzone rather than lying on the surface. Spiking can be carried out as a one-off or monthly treatment plan.
Lawn Water Management
As we head into Summer, it's worth thinking about how to help prevent the lawn from going brown in dry periods. There's no way of totally preventing the grass from going dormant but applying a 'wetting agent' will assist in keeping the lawn green by allowing water to reach the rootzone rather than lying on the surface and evaporating. A wetting agent reduces the surface tension of water enabling it to travel to the rootzone rapidly through layers of moss and thatch. Wetting agents will also help to green-up areas of 'localised dry patch' and 'fairy rings'. To be effective, it needs to be applied on a monthly basis from April until August and can be incorporated into a treatment or mowing plan.