Remove, control, and prevent lawn weeds

Weeds weaken your lawn because they zap up the nutrients in the soil. So, a weedy lawn is likely to be an unhealthy one. And unhealthy lawns are prone to disease and less resistant to drought.

So, while weed killing is hardly the most glamorous of garden tasks, we must do it. But lots of us worry that we’re going to kill off the wrong plants. And if you don’t remove the roots, they’ll just grow right back.

Our tips on removing, controlling, and preventing lawn weeds will help you identify and kill off the hardiest of weeds so that your lawn has the space and nutrients it needs to thrive.

 

Weed control: know what you are removing

Before you get started, you must know what kind of lawn weeds you are going to remove.

We distinguish between root weeds and seed weeds.

 

Carrot weed

Carrot weed (Daucus corota) is a perennial plant with deep, extensive root networks – sometimes, the roots can be metres-long. This makes the weeds difficult to remove.

Wild carrot weed has upright, fern-like leaves, similar to other intrusive weeds like parsley dropwort. The plant produces tall stems, topped with delicate white flowers, bunched tightly in umbels.

The weed root produces a carrot-like tuber (which can be edible but is likely too tough to enjoy). However, carrot weed looks similar to hemlock, which is deadly if eaten. If in doubt, avoid!

If you pull the top off the carrot weed, the “carrot” breaks off, forming more complex roots, and the plant will spread. Read on for tips on eradicating this root weed from your lawn.

Examples of other root weeds are thistles, nettles, bindweed, horsetail, cultivated grass, and ground elder.

 

Seed weed

Seed weeds are often annual plants that spread through seeds, often distributed by the wind or bird droppings.

Seed weed plants produce seed in large numbers. Examples of these types of weeds are dandelion, elder, thistle, hairy bud herb, daisy, common ground herb, annual meadow grass, shepherd’s purse and birthwort.

15 ways to remove and control lawn weeds

There are several ways to remove or control lawn weeds. Here, we’re going to give you 16 top tips to clear your lawn of invasive species.
(V) = environmentally friendly tip

 

  1. Weeding (V)

    Removing weeds by hand is the most efficient way to remove invasive plants. Hand weeding gives you control over what you remove and helps you avoid damage to other plants.

    When you weed by hand, it’s only effective if you pull the whole plant out of the ground, including the roots.

    It is a time-consuming job but can be very effective.

    It is not wise to weed when rain is coming because any weeds that haven’t been wholly removed will grow back faster. Weed your lawn in dry weather; that way, any remaining weeds struggle to survive.

     

  2. Hoeing weeds (V)

    Hoeing is a quick method of removing lawn weeds. The hoe helps you loosen the weeds beneath the soil.

    However, hoeing can do more harm than good with root weeds because the hoe might only cut off the roots, leaving pieces of the root intact underground. Any root remaining will come back with a new plant.

    Hoeing is most suitable for seed weeds, as the roots are shallower in the soil.

    Hoeing weeds

  3. Remove lawn weeds using a tool (V)

    You can use various types of tools to get rid of weeds. Use a root cutter or thistle cutter to remove weeds, roots and all.

    Additionally, root cutters usually come with a long handle, meaning that you don’t have to bend down to access the roots. So, this method is advisable if you struggle with a bad back.

    You can loosen and remove seed weeds with a hoe, chopper, or cultivator.

    Weeds growing between the cracks of your patio tiles can be difficult to remove as it’s difficult to access the roots. Use a grout scrapWeeer or grout brush to remove the weeds in this case. Be careful not to damage your patio tiles. Not all tiles can withstand steel wire.

     

  4. Removing weeds with machines (V)

    If you’re trying to remove weeds from between the cracks of a large patio, getting down on your hands and knees with a grout scraper can be back breaking after a while.

    You can use an electric weed sweeper to remove both weeds and moss from your concrete without using harsh chemicals and pesticides.

    You see quick results with a weed sweeper, and it’s better for the environment than chemical treatments.

     

  5. Removing lawn weeds by scarifying (V)

    Dethatching your lawn removes the moss and dead organic matter from between your grass plants, both of which suffocate your lawn.

    Scarifying will initially make your lawn look worse, but your grass grows back vigorously and recovers within a couple of weeks.

    Think of scarifying as mowing vertically to give the grass more room to develop. Find out more about scarifying here.

     

  6. Fighting weeds with a gas burner (V)

    Weed burners are easy to use, are ecologically sound and ergonomically friendly.

    Most gas-powered weed heaters are butane-powered, available in the same type of canister you might use for a camping stove.

    Weed burners work by heating the leaves of the weeds, which causes the plant’s cells to burst. This makes them dry out and die.

    You might need to repeat the process over the space of a few weeks to get rid of the weeds completely, but this is a minor hassle as weed burning is good fun!

    Fighting weeds with a gas burner

  7. Fighting weeds with an electric weed burner (V)

    Electric-powered weed burners do precisely the same as their gas-powered counterparts, but you don’t have to deal with gas bottles.

    Electrically-powered burners work a little like big hairdryers and require a power cable, so you’ll need an extension lead if you have a large garden (or opt for gas).

    Gas-powered weed burning uses a flame that can be quicker than the dry, hot air approach offered with an electric burner.

    Either way, weed burners are better for the environment than chemicals.

  8. Weed control with an organic ground cover (V)

    Give those suffocating weeds a taste of their own medicine.

    Smother them with a layer of mulch, such as grass clippings, compost, or coconut shells. This will suffocate seed weeds, and they’ll die off.

    And the organic covering will break down and feed the soil. Win-win.

    Alternatively, you could plant attractive ground cover plants like Lily of the Valley or Creeping Thyme. Seed weeds, in particular, will struggle to survive in competition with these more beautiful choices.

     

  9. Fight weeds with plastic (V)

    For a longer term approach, cover the affected ground with thick, black plastic. Most bin bags are too thin and are likely to pierce over time, so you’ll need to buy an approved black plastic weed barrier.

    Everything underneath the plastic will die from a lack of sunlight. But give this approach plenty of time: the plastic must remain in place for at least 3 to 6 months.

    Remember that EVERYTHING beneath the plastic will die – that includes your grass, so reserve this method only if you’re going to reseed or renovate.

     

  10. Remove weeds with boiling water (V)

    Not many people know about this method, and it’s surprising because it’s so easy and inexpensive.

    Pour boiling water over the plants, and the heat will destroy the proteins in the most stubborn of weeds; ultimately, killing off the plant.

    However, this method won’t necessarily eradicate the roots, so you may need to use this approach several times before the plant loses strength and dies.

     

  11. Weed control with salt

    It might surprise you to discover it, but most garden plants can’t withstand exposure to salt. So – to get rid of weeds – a saline solution is effective.

    However, you need to be careful when applying the saline solution because this approach could also kill off the plants around those pesky weeds.

    Mix one-part salt with eight-parts water, add a little dishwashing soap and add the mix to a spray bottle. And then spray directly onto the leaves of the weeds.

    Tip: Avoid spraying intensely into the soil; otherwise, neighbouring plants could die. Also, the saline solution may stain patio tiles, so bear this in mind when applying.

     

  12. Weed control with bicarb

    Another home-garden-and-kitchen remedy: bicarbonate of soda.

    Mix 5 tablespoons of soda in a bucket of hot water. For precise application, pour it into a plant sprayer.

    The same applies here: be careful when using to protect neighbouring plants.

    You can also sprinkle the baking soda directly onto the weed: moisten the weeds with a hose on a mist setting, and sprinkle one teaspoon of baking soda over the foliage of the entire week (not just in the centre). Water well to activate, and allow it to soak into the soil.

     

  13. Weed control with white vinegar

    Cleaning vinegar is an effective weed killer that you can use diluted or undiluted – it’s so acidic that weeds die quickly.

    This method isn’t advised if your soil is prone to acidity. Acid soil inhibits your lawn’s growth and could actually make your weed population stronger because many weeds enjoy acid soil (such as horsetail or moss).

    Use a sprayer or watering can, and work in a disciplined manner to avoid spraying neighbouring plants.

    Please note: adding salt, vinegar, or baking soda to the soil isn’t always recommended as the environmental impact isn’t always clear. If you’re looking to maintain your green credentials, choose an approved environmentally-friendly approach (indicated in this article with (V)).

     

  14. Fighting lawn weeds with natural pesticides (V)

    Herbicides are chemicals that kill weeds, while pesticides help eliminate garden pests by poisoning or burning their target. But some pesticides are also approved for weed killing.

    However, many pesticides contain harmful chemicals and aren’t considered environmentally sound.

    Natural pesticides, however, dissolve after a couple of hours so that you can plant or sow again the same day. Use a pressure sprayer to apply and read the instructions carefully.

    Even though the pesticide in use might be safe for most plants, you should still wear protective clothing to minimise contact.

     

  15. Control weeds with chemicals

    We can buy over-the-counter weed killers in the UK, and we’re free to use those in our gardens. However, some weed killers are designed to be used only by licensed professionals. Make sure you read the label because you could be breaking the law and find yourself with a fine (and a weedy lawn).

    If your lawn weeds are exceptionally hardy and are more difficult to kill than those pesky walkers in The Walking Dead, then you should call in a professional who will safely blitz those weeds once and for all.

 

7 tips for effective lawn weed control

So, you know how to control your weeds. Here are seven more tips for getting started.

 

Tip 1: good preparation is half the battle

Determine what kind of weeds you are going to remove, and choose how you’re going to go about it. Mow your lawn a few days before using weed killer for the best results.

Tip 2: take the season into account

The best season to remove lawn weeds is in the spring or early summer when the soil is still slightly moist, and weeds are actively growing.

Tip 3: avoid breezy days

If you use weed killer, do this at a time when there is little or no wind. The wind can disperse the weed killer, and – before you know it – your treasured plants have gone for a burton.

Using weed killer spray

 

Tip 4: separate weeds from good plants

Make sure you don’t attack the wrong plants. Cover good plants with plastic or work very specifically with a plant sprayer, pressure sprayer, or watering can.

Tip 5: prevent back pain

Back pain is a common setback (lousy pun intended) with manual weed removal. Take care of yourself: wear knee pads, and kneel to prevent damaging your back.

Step 6: Protect your new lawn

If your lawn is less than six months old, you should choose a weed killer especially formulated for young lawns.

Tip 7: protect your pets

If you use pesticides on your lawn, prevent your pets from making contact with the grass for at least a day.

Dog on a lawn

 

Preventing lawn weeds

Once you’ve tackled the weeds in your lawn, it’s vital that you know how to prevent them from coming back.

Use the following tips for a beautiful, weed-free garden.

 

Tip 1: New garden?

Before sowing grass seed or transferring plants into the soil, make the garden as free of weeds as possible. Start with a blank canvas, and it’ll be easier to prevent weeds in the future.

Tip 2: Create a dense turf

Create a dense turf by overseeding, especially in bald spots. A thick turf doesn’t give weeds the space they need to grow.

Tip 3: Scarify your lawn.

Like all plants, grassroots need oxygen. Aerate your lawn once a year.

Tip 4: Mow regularly and do not cut too short.

This helps the grass form a better barrier against future lawn weeds. Keep at least 3cm in length for ornamental lawns and 4cm for shady and play lawn.

Tip 5: Your turf also needs nutrition.

This nutrition comes in the form of manure or lawn feed. Fertilise your lawn 3 to 4 times a year for best results.

Tip 6: Remove weeds

Remove annual weeds before they flower heads turn to seed.

Tip 7: Improve the pH value of your soil

The ideal pH value for your turf is 5.5 – 6.5. If your soil is more acid, sprinkle lime. Acid-loving weeds, such as moss, don’t like this at all.

Tip 8: Make use of a mulch layer

A mulch layer of, for example, grass clippings, garden waste, compost, or wood chips prevents and reduces the growth of weeds. Read our tips for mulching.

Tip 9: Are you installing a terrace or driveway?

Place a weed barrier cloth underneath the tiles. This means that weeds are less likely to grow between the tiles.

 

Everything you need to know about weeds

We hope these tips can get you started. If you want to know more about weeds, read Everything you need to know about weeds, take a look at all our other articles

Check out our range of grass seed, fertilisers, scarifying products, and accessories for a beautiful lawn and garden.

If you have any questions, we’re here to help! Get in touch, and we’ll be pleased to help you.

The ultimate guide to sowing grass seed

Lawn care is simple if you know-how. And MOOWY is here to fill in the gaps of your knowledge so that you, too, can learn the art of sowing grass seed for a beautiful lawn that provides years of pleasure.

Why should I sow new grass seed?

Is your lawn looking a little tired? Are there bald spots and yellow or brown patches? Perhaps there are sections underneath trees that just don’t grow.

Grass seed isn’t just for new lawns. Laying seed over an existing lawn is called “overseeding”, and it’s an annual task for all lawn lovers. Overseeding helps overcome bald spots, and – by selecting the correct type of grass seed – you can remedy those reluctant spots underneath trees that receive little sunlight.

There are several reasons WHY your lawn might need overseeding, so it’s helpful to address the problems first. Your soil may require additional drainage, or it might need extra nutrients. And over time, the earth becomes too acidic to accommodate healthy grass growth.

If your lawn has soggy patches, you need to increase the drainage of the soil. Aerate your lawn – check out our shop for our unique aeration sandals.
All lawns require additional nutrients, so check out our range of specialised fertilisers and choose one that suits your soil conditions. And you can neutralise soil acidity with our Lawn Lime.

If your lawn has become choked with weeds and moss, then you could scarify to kill off the organic matter that prevents oxygen flow (helping minimise damage from pests such as Leatherjackets and grubs).

But, ultimately, overseeding (or completely reseeding) will help your patchy, tired lawn burst back into life.

When is the best moment to sow grass seed?

While there are optimal times of the year to sow your new grass seed, it’s possible to sow almost all year round.

However, the best time is from February to October, when the soil temperature is more likely to be at least 10°C. The seed won’t germinate at lower temperatures.

Remember, this is the temperature of the soil, not the temperature of the air. Your soil takes much longer to warm up than the air, so it’s a good idea to use a soil thermometer to gauge how much warmth the earth has absorbed.

However, the soil also maintains its heat much better than the air, so – although the air temperature in the autumn may drop – the soil will retain much of its summer heat throughout the autumn months.

If you sow grass seeds in the spring, the seed puts a lot of energy into creating blades (or leaves). However, the plant also wants to flower, detracting energy away from the roots. For vigorous grass plants, you want strong roots; extra phosphorus will help promote more robust roots.

To focus energy on the roots, fertilisation is essential. Use a good starter fertiliser such as MOOWY’s Lawn Starter, which contains extra phosphorus for improved root networks.

A robust root system ensures healthy growth and better drought-resistance.

The best time to sow fresh grass depends on the season and a range of other conditions such as rainfall and soil temperature.

What are the most suitable conditions for growing new grass seed?

We might now know when is the best time of the year for sowing grass seeds, but there are still a few things to bear in mind.

Soil temperature

Grass seed won’t grow in soil at less than 10°C – it just won’t germinate. That’s nature for you!

Use a soil thermometer to gauge the soil temperature. Make sure that you sink the thermometer at least 3cm into the soil to get a reliable reading.

The moisture content of the soil

Like all plants, your grass seed needs moisture to germinate. If your soil is dry, give it a good soaking the evening before sowing. You need to give it time for the water to penetrate the ground for the best results.

Just watering directly before seeding won’t produce optimal results. Make sure that you’ve let the water soak into the earth for faster germination, growth, and root development.

The grass seed MUST make contact with the soil

Grass seed needs good contact with the soil for germination. Simply sprinkling the seed over your existing lawn isn’t a guarantee that it will make contact with the earth – it’s likely to get stuck in the blades of the existing lawn.

So, make sure that you rake the seed after sowing and roll the lawn with a weighted roller to ensure that every seed makes contact with the earth.

Don’t skip this step: no contact, no germination!

Rake up compacted soil first

You’ve probably noticed that grass doesn’t grow on concrete. It may well grow between the cracks of concrete slabs, but on the concrete itself, there’s no growth. This is because the surface is too hard and impenetrable for the seed to sprout and develop roots. Likewise, if your soil is compacted, your grass seed will struggle to grow.

In the case of compacted soil, you should thoroughly rake the topsoil to loosen it up and aerate the earth to encourage better drainage and water penetration BEFORE you sow your grass seed.

Sowing grass seed by hand
Spreading grass seeds by hand

Which grass seed suits my soil?

There are several factors you should consider when choosing which grass seed to sow.

Think about the level of use you expect from your lawn. For high-use lawns, you need a robust plant that withstands heavy traffic. For lower impact lawns, you can select an ornamental lawn seed that withstands shorter cutting.

It’s worth considering the consistency and acidity of your soil. Heavy clay soils are nutrient-rich but are easily compacted. Sandy soils are lighter but retain less water: for well-draining soils, you should choose a grass plant that’s more drought-resistant.

We offer three main types of grass seed:

  • Sport & Fun for heavy use and play lawns
  • Shade & Sun for shady lawns (but also suitable for full sun)
  • Ornamental seed for that
  • Quintessentially manicured English lawn

Sport & Fun: grass seed for Sports Lawns & Playgrounds

If you use your lawn intensively, you need a robust grass plant that withstands heavy use.

MOOWY’s excellent Sport & Fun grass seed is a specially selected blend of coarse and fine grasses that can weather heavy use and changeable climates. We chose a high percentage of fine-leafed ryegrass, which is tough and resistant to disease and heavy use.

This seed mix proliferates and establishes itself in just a couple of weeks. And once established, the grass requires very little additional maintenance other than mowing and occasional fertilising.

Sun & Shade: grass seed for shady lawns

Do the trees in your garden shroud your lawn in shade? Maybe your garden just doesn’t get that much direct sunlight?

Sun & Shade lawn seed is specially selected for maximum germination and healthy growth in shaded parts of your garden. With a fine-leafed structure, Sun & Shade grows slowly and tolerates shorter mowing.

However, you don’t need to buy separate grass seed for the sunny spots – Sun & Shade has been expertly curated for its tolerance to both full sun AND shade.

Ornamental: grass seed for ornamental lawns

If you’re looking for that quintessential manicured lawn, our Ornamental grass seed could be a perfect choice. Go full Downton Abbey and enjoy the stunning look of a shorter lawn for that luxurious “carpet-feel”.

We’ve expertly selected grass types that develop fine leaf blades that tolerate shorter cutting. If you want a lawn like a golf course, our Ornamental seed will make you very happy indeed.

Great grass seed

You sow what you reap. And in the context of grass seed, high-quality seed produces superior results.

You can judge the quality of grass seed by the germination rate (the speed and percentage of germination) – but this alone is a poor quality indicator. Some fast-germinating seeds have a life cycle of just six months, so you’re back to square one the following year.

Buying only high-quality grass seed ensures that your investment pays off over the long term. You might spend a little more initially, but in the long run, you’ll save time, money, and effort because your lawn is more stable and durable.

New vs existing lawns

Sowing grass seed for a new lawn

Preparation of the soil is essential if you’re sowing grass seed for an entirely new lawn.

Firstly, find out what type of soil you have: is it heavy and clay-like or sandy and formless? Gather a handful of soil and squeeze it in your palm – if the soil remains crumbly, then you have sandy soil; if it forms together like clay, it’s a heavy, clay soil.

Heavy clay soils are high in nutrients but poor in drainage, which makes them more drought resistant. Clay soil becomes easily compacted, which makes it inhospitable to grass seed germination. It’s a good idea to mix some good quality topsoil into heavy clay earth to even out the texture – this will also help with drainage.

Sandy soils are low in natural nutrients. However, sandy soil drains well, so you’re less likely to find soggy patches that challenge new seed growth. Again, if your soil is VERY sandy, mix in some topsoil – it will make the earth more absorbent and better able to retain water and nutrients.

Before you start sowing your grass seed, remove all weeds and stones and level-out the earth. If there’s some existing grass, remove it with a grass trimmer.

Plough and level out the soil – then you’re ready for sowing!

How to sow grass seed for an existing lawn

If you have an existing lawn that bears the signs of age (yellowing areas and bald spots), then overseeding is a great fix.

Thinning lawns are prime real estate for weeds and pests, so reseeding your lawn will help keep the weeds down and the pests at bay.

Overseeding is a simple process of scattering seed over the existing lawn, concentrating mainly on the bald/dying spots. But be sure to rake and roll the soil afterwards to ensure even distribution and ample soil contact. More about that coming up.

How do I sow grass seeds? 7 simple steps

It’s time to get to work! Follow our step-by-step guide for optimal results.

Step 1: Calculate the amount of grass seed needed

The amount of grass seed you need depends on whether you’re laying out a new lawn or reseeding an existing one.
For a new lawn, we recommend 34g per square metre. For overseeding, half of that amount is sufficient: 17g per square metre.
If you’re not sure how big your lawn, you can easily approximate it. A large step is about 1 metre, so pace your lawn to estimate its length and width.

Step 2: Work in small sections

If you have a large or asymmetrical lawn, divide the larger areas into smaller parts and calculate how much grass seed you need for each part.

Step 3: Choose your moment

If you’re overseeding, you should sow new grass seeds immediately after mowing. Make sure that the grass is dry (but the soil is moist).

Step 4: Distribute the seed evenly

Spread the grass seed evenly over the earth. A spreader is a useful tool for this, but you can also do it by hand. Spread the first part lengthways and the second part widthways for even coverage.

Step 5: Lightly rake the grass seed

Raking ensures optimum contact with the soil. Without soil contact, the seed will not germinate.

Step 6: Roll with a weighted lawn roller

After you’ve raked the seed into the soil, rolling with a weighted roller helps maximise the soil contact. The grass seed gets pushed into the ground a little so that it remains firmly in place and is less likely to get wash away from watering or rain.

Step 7: Water, water, water

Water the soil well and keep it moist until the seed plants emerge. NOTE: It’s better to lightly water four times a day than to heavily water once a day; otherwise, there’s a chance that the grass seed will wash away.
[Top Tip: Grass seed germinates in sunlight. Do not cover the seed with extra garden soil or compost after sowing].

What do you need to sow grass?

With the following checklist, you won’t miss a thing.
What you need:

  • Grass seed
  • Spreader
  • Spade
  • Rake
  • Lawn roller
  • Garden hose
  • Lawnmower
  • Sod cutter
  • Fertiliser

Keep in mind:

  • Choose the right time, preferably in spring or autumn
  • Prepare the soil: remove weeds, stones, and old grass clippings
  • Know the size of your lawn and the amount of grass seed needed
  • Walk as little as possible on the lawn during the first season after sowing
  • Wait 21 days after germination before mowing the lawn
Growing grass plants
Growing grass seeds

3 Golden tips after sowing grass seeds

Tip 1: Buy 10% more grass seed than needed

Once your grass seed has germinated, you’ll see good growth. Nonetheless, sometimes you’ll still have a couple of bald spots. So, buy a little more seed than you need for the size of your lawn – that way, you can overseed to guarantee full coverage.

MOOWY’s grass seeds are supplied in resealable packs, so your seed will remain fresh for future overseeding.

Tip 2: Limit treading on new lawns

Young seedlings are exceptionally delicate, and they don’t tolerate treading until they’re established. So, avoid treading on your fresh grass during the first season after sowing. If you sow in early spring, avoid walking on the grass until the summer is well and truly underway.

Tip 3: Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance

You’ve done all this work to develop the perfect lawn – it would be a shame to let it go to rack and ruin!

You should cut new grass regularly to encourage growth, but wait for at least 21 days after germination to allow the new grass plants to establish before the first mowing.

As a general rule of thumb, cut no more than ⅓ of the length of the blade when mowing. If you want a shorter lawn, then stick to this rule, and cut again a few days later – again: no more than a ⅓ of its existing length.

Give your grass ample nutrition by selecting an appropriate fertiliser. Over-fertilisation can scorch the leaves, so we recommend a granulated fertiliser for slow-release food – a single application of a good quality fertiliser will last you up to 90 days.

Sprinkle lime annually to lower the soil’s acidity, and make sure that you dethatch the grass once or twice a year to boost oxygen absorption.

Give nature a helping hand during drought periods by watering your lawn regularly. Use a lawn sprinkler for the best (and easiest) results.
Keen to get started? Check out our assortment of grass seeds.

How to Repair Your Patchy Lawn (step-by-step plan)

If the yellow and brown patches in your lawn are growing bigger and bigger, and herbicides are failing to produce results, it might be time to consider lawn repair. 

The idea of a full lawn renovation may sound a little drastic and more than a little intimidating. But with the right guidance, you can transform your failing patch into a classic, beautiful English lawn.

Why repair your lawn?

Your lawn has a lot to endure throughout the year: children playing, garden parties, unpredictable hot and dry summers (combined with monsoon-like downpours), and cold winters that freeze your soil. That’s a lot to deal with. And – over time – your soil becomes depleted, and your grass plants start to give up the ghost. 

But the weather and heavy use aren’t always the primary culprits of lawns in need of repair. Moss, weeds, and soil insects such as Leatherjackets and grubs can decimate your grass; leaving a dry, dying, patchy lawn with bald spots and dead organic material.

There is hope: it’s time to renovate. But how do you repair a lawn?

Patchy Lawn
A patchy lawn

Restoring your lawn after the winter

After a harsh, cold winter, most lawns need a little TLC. The low temperatures cause the grass to lose its fresh green colour, and you might discover new bald patches that you’d never noticed before.

Winter offers the perfect conditions for a range of grass diseases, such as Snow Fungus, which occurs between 0- and 8-degrees and is caused by humidity or extended periods of sogginess due to melting snow.

Grass is a hardy plant, but it falls foul to winter conditions. But fear not: you can restore your lawn to its former glory.

MOOWY’s Step-by-Step Plan: Restore your lawn in 6 Steps

Follow our step-by-step plan, and your lawn will soon be looking healthy, lush, and radiant in no time.

Step 1: Scarify your Lawn

No, this is nothing to do with Hallowe’en. Scarifying your lawn is a process that removes the moss and thatch layer that inevitably proves disastrous for the health of your lawn.

Removing this top-layer of thatch gives your lawn the room it needs to breathe and absorb nutrients. It also creates space for new grass seed to germinate.

Step 2: Sow new grass seed

Scarifying – at first – often makes the lawn look superficially worse. It creates new bare patches – but don’t panic: this is all an expected part of the process. After you’ve lain new grass seed, it will spring back to life in no time.

Solve new bald patches by sowing grass seed. Prepare the topsoil and remove any stones, so that the earth is level and ready for new growth.

Step 3: Fertilise your lawn

Besides oxygen and water, every lawn needs nutrition. This nutrition comes in the form of lawn fertiliser, which improves the soil’s nutrient content and makes the grass grow back strongly.

It’s widely recommended that you fertilise your lawn three to four times a year: in spring, in early summer, in late summer, and finally in autumn.

The best time to restore your lawn is in the spring or autumn because the soil will be at the right temperature

Step 4: water!

Water your lawn immediately after fertilising. Some aggressive fertilisers can burn your grass; you must dissolve the fertiliser before the sun shines on your lawn.

However, avoid over-watering. Puddles could wash your new lawn seed away or redistribute it into clumps, resulting in patchy (rather than consistent) new growth.

Stop watering when the water no longer immediately soaks into the soil.

Step 5: Spread Lawn Lime on the grass

For the most beautiful lawn, you need the right degree of acidity in your soil. MOOWY’s Lawn Lime improves the soil condition and ensures that additional nutrients (such as fertiliser) are adequately absorbed.

If your soil has a low pH, simply sprinkle lime onto your lawn.

Tip: Sprinkle lime during the winter. This strengthens the lawn and prepares it for the new season

Step 6: Mowing your grass

Finally, mow your lawn to encourage growth. However, wait until the new grass is 10cm high before the first mowing. This is to ensure that the blades are strong enough to withstand the stress of cutting.

Never cut more than 1/3 of the blade’s length in one go. If you’re looking for a golf-course-style manicured lawn and would like the grass shorter, wait a few more days after the first mowing, and cut another 1/3 of the length.

To keep your lawn in tip-top shape, you also need to trim the edges of the grass. This is done quickly and easily with a grass-edge trimmer.

What is the best time to repair your lawn?

The best time to repair your lawn is in the spring or autumn, when the soil temperature is warm enough for new grass seed to germinate. There will also be plenty of stored moisture, providing your grass plants with the boost they need to withstand the restoration process.

What do you need?

You’ll need some tools and materials to renovate your lawn expertly. We’ve listed them for you here.

The following tools are needed to repair the lawn:

  • Scarifier or rake
  • Spreader, for fertilising and liming
  • Sprinkler with nozzle
  • Lawnmower and edge trimmer

The following materials are needed to repair the lawn:

  • Grass seed
  • Lawn fertiliser
  • Lawn Lime
Lawn feed granulate
Spreading lawn fertiliser by hand

How Long does Lawn Restoration Take?

Restoring your lawn can be a time-consuming task. Apart from the labour time for scarifying, sowing, fertilising, liming, and mowing, you also have to choose the right time of year.

Be patient. Make sure it’s not too warm and that no heavy rainfall is expected. And remember: don’t walk on your new grass plants for at least two weeks after sowing.

How to choose the right grass seed?

If you’re overseeding, decide which type of grass seed you need.

If your lawn is likely to experience intensive use, it’s best to use Sport & Fun grass seed for sports lawns and playgrounds.

If your garden doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, consider using Shade & Sun grass seed for shaded lawns.

For the quintessential English lawn, choose Premium Grass Seed.

Read more about these grass seeds and everything you need to know about buying grass seeds in the article Buy grass seed or on our grass seed category page.

Lawn care doesn’t have to be difficult

Fertilisation

Your lawn needs food, just like us.

Fertilising your lawn three times a year helps provide all the nutrients your grass plant needs – not just to survive, but to thrive.

You can fertilise a 500-square-metre lawn in half an hour. So, for just 90 minutes of work each year, you can enjoy a beautiful, robust, and hardy lawn that requires very little else.

Fertilising nourishes the roots of the plant and promotes a vibrant green colour. Offer the nutrients your grass needs, and enjoy a hardy, moss- and weed-free lawn all year round.

 

Overseeding

Golf courses and football fields are regularly overseeded, and that’s what gives them that flawless look. So, if you’re looking for pitch-perfect grass, you need to overseed. 

Overseeding is nothing more than just throwing grass seed over your existing lawn. This helps replenish bald spots and keeps the lawn lush and full. 

Old grass plants grow slowly, while newer plants grow steadily and evenly. New grass plants establish themselves each time you overseed which helps inhibit weed- and moss growth. It also increases your lawn’s reproduction capacity, giving you a stunning, thick lawn all year round. 

 

Renovate by scarifying

Scarifying? 

It sounds like something you might do at Hallowe’en, doesn’t it? 

But, this process will rejuvenate your lawn like no other. 

Fertilising and overseeding brings great results, but – eventually – your entire lawn will need renovating (removing old, dead grass and wild growth, and replacing it with robust, newer grass plants). 

Scarifying is one of the more challenging lawn-maintenance jobs – and it can be a little – well, scary. 

At first, it will look like you’ve totally wrecked your lawn. But give it a week or two, and your lawn springs to life: stronger and more vibrant than ever before. 

You could scarify a 500-square-metre patch in a morning, but you’ll need the right tools, fertilisers, and grass seeds

 

What can you do now?

First things first: assess your lawn. If there are bald patches and lots of moss or weeds, then you could consider scarifying. Otherwise, just fertilise three times a year, and overseed once a year. 

Scarification, fertilisation AND overseeding takes less than a day’s work (spread over a year). But it’s time well spent: just think of the fantastic lawn you’ll have in return.

 

Why mow your lawn?

It’s vital to mow your lawn correctly.

I see mowing as my favourite pastime: I’m a grass fanatic.

Mowing is my meditation: I don’t think about anything else for a while, and just live in the moment. I put on my favourite music and make the most beautiful, straight lines.

That really is my thing.

And the smell of freshly cut grass?! There’s nothing better.

Each time you mow, you encourage new growth. And over time, regular mowing fills out the lawn and makes it look neater.

Mowing promotes hardiness: each time you mow, you damage the grass, forcing the plant to repair itself. The cutting blade’s damage triggers a hormone within the grass plant that encourages growth and healing, creating a deeper green colour and more vigorous growth.

Mow with sharp blades, and only once a week; that’s more than enough. If you skip a week now and then, don’t mow shorter than you did before – that can be very stressful for the grass.

If growth has gone too far, do a little renovation: fertilise well and restart the regular mowing regime.

 

Lawn scarification, all you need to know | With clear step-by-step plan

What is scarifying?

Scarification sounds like something you might expect at Hallowe’en. But it’s nothing to do with scary monsters and Trick or Treating. Scarifying your lawn is a task that lots of people worry about because it stresses the lawn. But done the right way, this process will completely restore and renovate your dying grass.

Scarifying is a vital maintenance technique that removes moss or dead organic material from around your grass plants (also known as the thatch layer). This organic matter suffocates the roots of your lawn, inhibiting grass growth while encouraging more weeds and moss.

Scarifying is a process that breaks the soil surface and is usually done manually with a rake or a scarifying machine. Verticutting is another scarifying method that doesn’t break the topsoil and gives the grass more room to develop.

Why do I need to scarify my lawn?

Grass plants need space to develop and thrive into a beautiful green lawn. The grass plant’s main growth takes place at the base (also called “the crown”), which sits at the soil line. The grass blades sprout from the crown – and the space between these crowns dictates the growth of a healthy lawn.

However, if the soil surface becomes overpopulated, the grass plants suffer. Moss is the particular culprit here – growing between the grass crowns and, ultimately, preventing oxygen and nutrients from reaching the soil.

Scarifying restores the space between the grass crowns.

In addition to moss, lawns develop a thatch layer of dead organic matter (such as autumn leaves) which suffocate the lawn, preventing the absorption of water, light, oxygen, and nutrients

This is all terrible news for your lawn. But fear not: scarification is the solution and should be performed annually.

It’s quite a tough job (and you will think that you’ve wrecked the lawn initially), but your lawn will visibly improve if you do it right.

Scarifying rake

When should I scarify my lawn?

Scarifying stresses your lawn, which is why it’s best only to scarify while your grass is growing well. The best times to scarify your lawn are from March to May, and in the autumn from the end of August to October.

Grass doesn’t grow when the soil temperature is below 10ºC. Be careful not to use the outside temperature as a yardstick – air temperature is NOT the same as soil temperature.
Soil warms up much more slowly than the air, but it maintains heat for much longer.

Give your soil time to reach the right temperature. In most cases, this will be at the beginning of March, but the best way to tell is to use a soil thermometer. Sink the thermometer 3cm into the surface of the soil for the most accurate reading.

The weather on the day of scarifying your lawn shouldn’t be too warm or sunny. A cloudy day is best, and a drop or two of rain won’t hurt during the process.

Scarifying your lawn also puts a strain on the lawn, so it is best to scarify at a time when the grass is growing well.

At what time of day should I scarify my lawn?

It’s not so important to choose a specific time of day during the spring or autumn – it’s inadvisable to scarify your lawn at all in the winter when the soil is cold and hard.

The rule of thumb is to avoid scarifying during the hottest part of the day when the temperature is over 20ºC. Scarifying your lawn tears the grass, which causes it to dry out more quickly – so avoid scarifying in full sun. Remember the adage – “mad dogs and the Englishmen go out in the midday sun”? Them’s the rules: avoid scarifying when the sun is at its most powerful.

In any case, make sure that you water the grass well after scarifying; another reason to leave it until the afternoon/early evening, as wet leaves can scorch until harsh sun).

How often should I scarify my lawn?

It depends on how much thatch or moss your particular lawn produces. Shady lawns are more prone to moss, for example – so they need more regular scarifying. Most lawns benefit from annual scarifying. A lawn that hasn’t been scarified for a long time is likely to need some intensive work, so making scarification part of your annual routine means that the job is easier each time.

If the thatch layer reaches 2cm deep (or more), you should scarify annually. If it’s under 1cm in depth, you can scarify every other year.

TOP TIP: grass cuttings left on the lawn after mowing mulch down into thatch much more quickly, making more regular scarification necessary. Avoid extra work by clear cuttings after mowing.

Should I use a scarifier or a rake when I want to scarify my lawn

?

A scarification machine (or a verticutter) minimises the effort required for scarification. However, many people prefer to do it by hand, using a rake.

If your lawn is larger than 150sq-m, we think rake scarification is probably going to be a little back-breaking.

When scarifying your lawn mechanically, you can choose between an electrically-driven or a petrol scarifier. We recommend a petrol-driven scarifier for larger lawns (unless you have lots of extension power cables!). Petrol-driven machines are often more powerful – if you have lots of moss to remove, petrol is a good choice.

A scarifier is expensive to buy, especially if you need it just once a year, so we recommend hiring one. Get in touch with your local garden centre or DIY store – they may have machines to hire. Alternatively, Google “scarifying machines to hire near me” for your nearest garden machine specialist.

You can hire a scarifier for around £40 a day. However, the job is unlikely to take all day, so find out if your neighbour wants to use it as well and split the cost!

Scarifying your lawn by hand is the most labour-intensive option, but – for smaller gardens – it’s quite a satisfying garden task.

 

scarifier Scarifying with scarifier

How do I scarify my lawn?

Use our step-by-step guide to find out the correct technique, or watch the video below (or subscribe to the MOOWY YouTube channel for regular tips and tricks for beautiful lawns).

STEP 1 | Mowing the lawn briefly

Scarifying long grass is much more difficult, so be sure to mow beforehand. Cut your grass between 3- and 5cm in length for best results.

STEP 2 | Scarifying

A common mistake is that people plough too deeply into the soil, making the job much harder than it needs to be. Dig a maximum of 5mm into the topsoil for optimal moss removal – this is enough to cut through the grass plants’ top roots, causing the plant to release a growth hormone that activates the healing process.

If in doubt, start with a less conspicuous part of your lawn to get an idea of the pressure you need to apply if you’re scarifying by hand.

STEP 3 | Scarify 2nd time for optimal result

For best results, it’s a good idea to scarify at least twice (three times is even better). This makes sure that any areas you’ve missed get exposed.

You’ll be shifting lots of organic material from the lawn each time – make sure you remove it from the lawn (and add it to the compost heap).

Start lengthwise for the first scarification, and then at a 45-degree angle – this way, you’re sure to cover the entire lawn.

This lengthwise and diagonal approach makes the job of scarification:

  • Lighter work for you if working by hand
  • Softer impact on your scarifying machine
  • Much less intensive and stressful for your lawn

And your lawn recovers more quickly!

If your lawn is in a particularly poor condition, scarify it a third time.

Scarifying with scarifier

STEP 4 | Aftercare, what do you do after scarifying?

Scarifying is stressful for your lawn, and it’s going to look like you’ve driven a bulldozer through your lawn. It’s like a slasher movie for your grass.

But:

The process of scarification forces the lawn into repair mode, and the plant releases growth hormone straight away. This is the perfect time to fertilise and water the lawn, and – for best results – it’s a great opportunity to overseed. But fertilise first.

Fertilise with a high-nitrogen fertiliser such as Spring Boost or All-round Vital Plus fertiliser. Nitrogen stimulates leaf development, and this improves and shortens recovery.

Front image of the All-Round lawn fertiliser lawn feed product pouch with lawn feed in front of the pouch

Go to product

 

 

Overseeding the lawn at this stage stops weeds growing in the fresh gaps and encourages lush, full grass coverage once the lawn has recovered. We recommend MOOWY’s Quick Repair grass seed for the quickest and most effective outcome. Read all about the benefits of overseeding here.

Front image of the Quick Repair grass seed product pouch with grass seed in front of the pouch

Go to product

 

 

TOP TIP: don’t let the lawn dry out after scarifying – your grass needs water to bounce back. Water thoroughly after fertilising and overseeding, then water again once or twice a day for the next two weeks (unless there’s plenty of rain).

 

I’m ready. When and how do I start scarifying my lawn?

Make sure you have the right gear to get started. If you’re working by hand, you’ll need a high-quality scarifying rake, and you’ll need fertiliser and lawn seed. Luckily, MOOWY has put together a range of scarifying kits – for perfect scarification every time.

If you have any questions, we’re here to help! Get in touch, and we’ll be pleased to help you.

Three secrets for a beautifully lush lawn

Does your garden lawn look more like a 1970s football pitch than those pristine examples you see in the modern Premier League?

Muddy, thinning grass that lacks colour and resilience is avoidable. And we’re about to share the secrets with you right now.

Secret #1

Most of us don’t even look at our lawn-mower blades, but the health and vitality of your grass relies heavily on your mower blades.

Think about it: cutting with a blunt blade results in a tear. And a tear produces a larger surface area on the grass blade, creating a breeding ground for diseases and bacteria that give the grass’s tips that familiar brown tinge.

Our first #TopTip is to mow with sharp blades only – that way, damage to the lawn is minimised.

It’s possible to sharpen your existing blades. Or you could buy a new blade; you don’t need to replace the entire mower.

Either way, for Premier League lawns, use decent, sharp mowing blades.

Secret #2

Eventually, most of us end up with bald spots. But thankfully, a balding lawn is easier to solve than a balding head.

Maybe you have high-traffic areas on your lawn that seem to thin out by the end of the summer? Perhaps you notice little paths worn into the grass from your pets who seem to favour the same journey to the end of the garden?

The solution?

Overseeding – a process that replenishes the bald spots and helps your grass remain young, healthy, and hardy.

Overseeding gives your lawn a much higher reproductive capacity, helping those bald spots grow more densely.

And overseeding is super-easy:

Simply mow your lawn, then sprinkle grass seed over the top. That’s it!

If your lawn suffers from shady areas, overseed with our Shade & Sun grass seed for the best results. If you have soggy patches, try our aerating sandals to improve drainage.

Secret #3

Most people think that rain and sunshine are enough to nourish a lawn. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

For a beautifully lush and resistant lawn, you should fertilise the grass THREE TIMES each year.

Many of us fertilise the lawn in the spring, but that’s not really enough.

Our slow-release fertilisers usually last for around 90 days (that’s three months). So, for a stunning year-round lawn, fertilise with a high-quality granulated fertiliser at the beginning of the spring, during the summer, and in the autumn.

The autumn feed is probably the most important: it helps strengthen the grass for its winter dormancy. A weakened lawn develops weeds and moss over the winter, while a well-fed lawn is more resistant.

Fertilise three times a year with our slow-release fertilisers and you’ll maintain a beautiful, lush green lawn all year round.

How to repair your lawn after the winter

What happens to the lawn during winter?

The amount of sunlight decreases dramatically during the winter months. And when buildings, trees, and hedges restrict sunlight, shaded areas remain damp for months at a time. As a result, the individual grass plants begin to die off, causing bald patches that considerably thin out your lawn.

However, a mild winter can do as much damage to your lawn as a harsh, cold winter. Moss loves a cold, humid, shady climate, especially where temperatures are between 2- and 10-degrees.

A cold but dry winter offers your lawn the greatest chance of survival.

In 5 steps, you will enjoy a beautiful lawn again this spring:

  1. Start by removing leaves, branches, and any moss; a fertiliser with iron works wonders
  2. Aerate the turf by combing or scarifying the grass
  3. Sow new grass to fill in the gaps and keep weeds out
  4. Fertilise with a spring fertiliser with high nitrogen content
  5. Keep the grass seed moist for 3 weeks. New grass should germinate within 10 days.

Which grass seed do you use?

The choice of grass seed depends on your type of lawn.

Timing is of the essence when sowing seeds!

The optimal time for sowing seed very much depends upon the conditions in your garden.

If hedges or buildings throw shade on parts of your lawn for most of the year, the soil’s temperature will be lower than in the rest of the garden. Therefore, you should avoid sowing too early in the year. Wait until the ground has reached at least 10-degrees before you start sowing!

Grass that grows around trees is best sown as soon as the temperature permits. That way, the lawn has enough time to establish itself before the trees’ foliage becomes dense, limiting the available light.