It is well worth spending a few minutes reading the following information to help inform you get the best from your new garden.
Caring for newly turfed lawns
During the first month, a newly turfed lawn is at its most vulnerable. We advise staying off freshly laid turf for at least four to six weeks. This recommendation is essential if your lawn has been laid in wet weather or winter, as walking on your new turf unnecessarily will cause it to settle unevenly. Please bear in mind that your lawn will need care and time (up to two years) to bed in and become established. New lawns are very thirsty, and watering will prevent it from going tallow or brown. Importantly, watering also stops the turf from shrinking, which causes gaps between each row. Regular watering is vital, especially during warm spells of weather in spring or summer. Watering is best carried out in the early morning or evening to avoid drying out in the sun.
New turf comes fertilised
Turf comes pre-fertilised and should not be fed for at least three months after being laid. Additional feeding may cause damage as too much nitrogen will burn your lawn.
Wet winters and puddling
Most homeowners in the UK contend with clayish soil. Clay contains a rich amount of nutrients for the lawn roots to benefit from and, if treated correctly, will help produce a good lawn. However, clay soil is well known for hoarding moisture, which flows through the soil at a slower pace. In mid-winter or prolonged wet weather, try to stay off the grass as much as possible to keep a healthy lawn. If there is standing water or it is squelchy underfoot, it is best to stay off. When the lawn area has dried enough to stand on, without making a squelchy wet mark, take a garden fork and push in as deep as it will go and wiggle. Repeat every 30cm in a grid. Then, add a thin layer of 3mm grit over the lawn and sweep in with a stiff brush until it falls down the holes. Use small grit as it is hard to push in large pieces.
The appearance of mushrooms in freshly laid turf is not unusual and is not a cause for concern. The process of harvesting, transporting, and laying new turf can sometimes stimulate the growth of mushrooms. Mushroom growth is most likely to happen during warm and humid conditions and will usually disappear within a few weeks or with a change of season. They can be removed by brushing away or mowing the lawn, and it is good practice to use a collection box to help prevent further spreading.
We install extensive drainage systems on our developments to clear surface water from roads and pavements. However, it is entirely normal for some landscaped areas to become saturated in extremely wet weather conditions. This waterlogging is not a defect and so will not be covered by your warranty. A good barometer regarding surface water is to see if the water drains away, of its own accord, within a day or so. If the pooled water is within three metres of your home and does not drain away within a reasonable time, especially if you experience prolonged flooding in this area close to your home, please contact us. Please also remember that some home improvements, such as installing block paving or extended patios, could interfere with the rate that water drains away.
Most trees do not need a lot of maintenance but may require watering. In hot, dry weather, two buckets of water, as a minimum, around the base of the tree should keep it going, but if leaves start to droop, water more often. Once a year, check the stake is still firm and undo the buckle-on tie to make it bigger as the tree grows. After three seasons, you can remove the stake to allow the tree to flex to the strength of the trunk.
Most shrubs planted in your front garden are evergreen and take care of themselves. Keep the bed weed-free and check once a month. Bark or mulch should be topped up at least once a year, as it breaks down and works into the soil to improve the quality. For the first year, a good weekly watering will keep shrubs healthy in dry weather conditions. You can prune after the first year (the internet is a useful source of information about how much you can take off particular varieties).
Top tips for maintaining your lawn
- Remember to water the turf regularly and thoroughly
- Do not feed it for at least three months, and, when you do, feed the lawn each spring (after the last frost) and throughout the summer
- Keep off the lawn for four to six weeks so it can settle evenly
- Wait until the roots stabilise in the soil before mowing. Remember, new turf takes at least one season to settle properly
- Cut the grass no lower than one inch
- Always use a sharp moving blade
- Remove any clippings or debris off the lawn
- During the autumn, aerate the lawn with a garden fork as this will help healthy root growth and drainage. It can also help prevent leatherjackets (crane fly larvae), which feed on grass roots and stem bases
A few notes on your garden fence and patio
- You should maintain your fence each year by painting it with a timber care product
- In the event of storm damage to fencing, you should refer to your home insurer
- If you have decking, sweeping it regularly and hosing it down when dirt accumulates will keep it looking good and avoid any damage. You can also clean the deck boards more thoroughly at the beginning and end of the summer using a pressure washer and paint them with a timber product
- Products such as ‘Patio Magic’ can be invaluable in keeping your patio looking in good condition
Lawn Care and Maintenance
Newly Laid Lawn
If your lawn was laid just before you moved into your new property, it will require a lot of watering as it is a thin layer of turf placed on top, which dries out very quickly. The first watering should be around two hours per 50 m², with a hose and sprinkler. The larger the lawn, the more you need to move the sprinkler around. After this, it should be watered for at least an hour for 50m² every day for the first two weeks unless you have over two hours’ worth of rain. You need to do this regularly. Then, after two weeks, you can adapt the watering scheme with four days dry and on the fifth-day water for at least an hour, as mentioned above. The best time to water the garden is early morning or evening (not in full sun).
Stay off the lawn as much as possible when it has been freshly laid. Keeping off the grass stops you from getting minor divots in the grass from your feet and prevents scuffing and snapping off the fibrous roots underneath, moving the turf and creating an uneven lawn. You can tell when your lawn has knitted in by just gently taking a corner of one of the edges of turf and pulling it slightly – if it will not give, the turf has locked its roots into the soil below, which means you can now walk on it carefully. Be mindful of all edges around fence lines and patios, as these will dry the fastest as it is where the topsoil is thinnest, so there is no reservoir for the turf to grab water. There is usually a slow-release fertiliser in the turf, and it should have been treated before the turf was cut in the field – this is usually a seaweed-based fertiliser, which gives it a little boost to get it moving. After the turf has been laid, you do not need to feed your turf for the first six weeks at least – excessive feeding will cause the turf to become weak and may burn it with black marks, so we advise refraining from doing this. If you need to get across the turf after moving in, it is a good idea to use a plank of wood or board to access the sprinkler etc.
Once your lawn is established, starting a regular mowing routine is good practice, beginning at around 2 inches for the first cut and slowly lowering it down to about an inch. Do not let your grass get any longer than 4 inches. If the grass gets too long, i.e., you are going away on holiday, or it has been too wet, and the grass gets to 6 or 7 inches, reduce it by a quarter each time you mow until you get it back down to being an inch.
Early March is an excellent time to feed grass – a spring ‘weed and feed’ is advisable. It is also a good time to try treating for leatherjackets – we recommend doing this anyway, even if there are no signs, because it is good prevention. If the grass is really wet, staying off will prevent foot marks and divots.
The main issue in the summertime is watering. The rule of thumb is that, if you have dry weather, on the fifth day, you should water for an hour with a sprinkler and hose (based on a 50-metre garden – the bigger the garden, the more time you need to spend watering etc.). It is ideal to keep the grass slightly longer this time of year, so it retains the moisture – preferably, aim for around 1.5 to 2 inches; you can keep it shorter, but you would need to water it regularly. The best time to water the garden is early morning or evening (not in full sun).
When adding summer feed, try to do this just before it rains to wash it in. Otherwise, it will burn the top layer of grass in hot weather. Also, always try and pick up all your grass clippings to stop thatch from building up in the lawn.
Keep up regular mowing this time of year until the ground gets too wet, and the mower starts to make marks in the grass. You can apply autumn feed, but all this will do is build up the root structure. Spike the grass again at this time of year, as it will help with the cold, wet months ahead.
In the winter, especially if the garden is wet, it is best to stay off it. When it is dry enough to walk on, you can spike the lawn using a garden fork or mechanical tool. We advise spreading 3mm of agricultural grit lightly over the surface and then using a stiff broom to push it into the holes made by the spiking. This process will aid with getting the rain and moisture into the lower sections of the subsoil and help growth. We recommend not feeding the lawn too much at this time of year. As soon as the ground is dry enough, you can get on the lawn to give it the first cut, running the mower over without making marks. Try to keep the grass to a long length (around 2 inches) for the first couple of cuts, just to give it adequate protection if it gets frosty, which will not harm the base of the grass.
Dethatching is usually done in early spring, and you can do it again in late autumn, using either a stiff rake or a mechanical rake, depending on the area you are doing. It is best to start at one end of your garden and work down in a diagonal line across the garden. Removing all the debris will make the grass look bare for a while, but after a few cuts, this will really help thicken the grass up.
The type of mower makes all the difference to your lawn. A mower with four wheels or a roller is less likely to mark the grass than a hover mower. A wheeled mower tends to stay at one height and does not pitch roll like a hover mower. Always collect grass in the grass box. Mulch mowers without grass boxes are fine in dry, warm conditions but not so good in damp, wet conditions as we tend to get in England. You can use one, but only during dry weather, and you have to cut regularly so as not to build up too much thatch.
If you have a battery mower, getting the battery to match the size of your lawn is usually a good idea, and you might want one with a line strimmer so you can do your edges. Make sure, when you are strimming, that you dig into the grass and try to keep the nylon head just above it, leaving around an inch of grass.
Automatic mowers are a great option if you do not have time to look after your lawn.
You may need to de-thatch the lawn regularly as automatic mowers do not collect the grass clippings. They chop them into fine pieces, which end up at the base of the lawn. This situation is good in dry weather because they dry up and feed the lawn, but in cold, damp conditions, they tend to sit there and rot. We recommend de-thatching at least twice a year, and some companies will do this for you if you do not have time.
Children’s Toys and Trampolines
Children’s toys and trampolines can make yellow marks on the grass and leave the grass looking a bit thin and wispy. It is best to move toys regularly and avoid leaving them in one place. Trampolines are often quite large, so we recommend using play bark or gravel under the trampoline, as the grass will never grow underneath it. Also, be aware of where the steps to climb onto the trampoline are situated as it may get heavy foot traffic, so it is an idea to use gravel or bark in this area too. Moving paddling pools every two days is good practice to avoid killing the grass underneath.
Dog and cat urine will mark grass. There are products you can add to their water bowls to neutralise the acid in their urine but always follow the product instructions. Ensure that pet faeces are collected daily.