Lawn mowing | How and When to Mow your Lawn for the Best Results | 8 Expert Tips

Lawn mowing might feel like a chore, but if you want a lawn that you’re proud of, you need to mow. In fact, lawn mowing is probably the most crucial of all regular lawn care tasks.

But there’s an art to effective mowing, and most people don’t really know exactly what they’re doing when they mow their lawns. And that’s why we put this article together – to help you maximise the benefits of mowing your lawn.

When and how often should you mow? What is the ideal cutting height for your grass? Which mower should you use?

We’ve got answers to all of those questions (and more). So, before you get the mower out, stick the kettle on and put your feet up. Here are our eight tips for a beautiful and sleek lawn.

Why is it important to mow your grass?

Lawn mower against long grass

Chances are, you mow your lawn to make it look tidier. But there’s a range of other benefits that you might not know about.

Each time you cut, the plant releases a growth hormone that helps repair the leaf. This gives the grass plant an energy boost each time you cut, but if you mow incorrectly, you risk damaging your turf.

Here’s why:

Light and oxygen

Your turf needs light and oxygen.

Grass is green because of photosynthesis – an essential chemical process triggered by exposure to sunlight.

But:

In thick, tall grass, it’s only the tips of the grass that access the sunlight – the majority of the blade’s length is shrouded in shadow. So, cutting your grass provides greater access to sunlight for more of the blade.

Lawn mowing offers greater access to oxygen, helping promote growth from the roots.

Therefore, lawn mowing triggers a sequence of beneficial conditions that promote healthy growth, resistance to disease, and minimises the chance for moss and weeds to take over.

Lawn Mowing – When to Mow

When to cut: the million-dollar question.

In general, always mow your lawn when the grass is dry.

Wet grass tears, creating a larger wound on the blade of the plant. This exposes the plant to fungi and disease and compacts the surface of grass, preventing oxygen from reaching the roots. And wet grass sticks to your mower, clogging up the moving parts.

On the other hand, it’s wise to avoid lawn mowing in the midday sun. Make sure it’s not too hot or your grass will dry out and go brown.

The best time to mow is late afternoon when the sun is low in the sky. Your grass will have enough time to recover before nightfall.

How often should you mow your lawn?

No two lawns are the same, which means that there’s no one definitive answer to this particular question. In short, you should mow your lawn as often as it needs cutting.

If your grass grows quickly, then twice a week is good: it will help encourage the strength and resistance of the turf. Remember, the more you mow, the denser your turf will become because the plant grows more at the roots.

But once a week is enough if your grass grows slowly.

Grass grows more quickly in the summer when it’s warmer, so you can reduce the regularity of mowing the lawn in the spring and autumn.

In most cases, you shouldn’t need to mow at all during the winter.

Always remember The 1/3 Rule.
This way, the grass does not lose its vigour.

What is the ideal cutting height for the grass?

Long grass, ready for lawn mowing

Before you rush off and set your cutting blades at their lowest setting, remember The ⅓ Rule: never cut more than a third of the grass’s length; this way, it won’t lose its vigour.

Avoid cutting your grass too short – this is called scalping, and it damages the roots. The ideal cutting height depends on the conditions of your garden, but – in general – anywhere between 2.5cm and 4cm is optimal for most lawns.

Play lawns need a little extra length to maintain their strength and resistance, so if you use your lawn intensively, cut it to around 7cm.

Shaded Lawns

Don’t cut shaded lawns too short.

If your lawn is mainly in the shade, mow it to around 7cm in height, allowing it to absorb more light and produce the nutrients it needs.

If the grass is long

If you’ve left the lawn until it’s very long, make sure you adhere to The ⅓ Rule.

Cut a maximum of one-third of its total length. Cut regularly, reducing the height by 1/3 each time until you reach the optimal height for your garden.

Lawn Mowing for the first time

When you lay new turf, wait at least two weeks before you mow for the first time. This gives the grass plants time to take root, creating a solid foundation for your lawn. Or if you’re growing new grass from seed, leave at least three weeks after seedlings have appeared before you first mow.

Set your mower to the highest setting (adhering to The ⅓ Rule) and gradually lower it over time.

If you’re growing a new lawn from seed (or are overseeding your existing lawn), leave it for at least two weeks after the seeds have germinated before you even consider moving. Leave it for longer if you can to allow the roots to develop fully.

Mow your freshly seeded areas to around 7-8cm for the first month or so when you do start cutting.

How do you mow stripes into your lawn?

We’ve all admired those immaculate stripes across the tennis courts at Wimbledon, and you might have tried – unsuccessfully – to achieve the same effect in your own garden.

With the right equipment, it IS possible to create the striping effect on most lawns. It doesn’t work as well on low-growing, warm-season grasses such as Bermuda grass, but for most British lawns, it’s possible.

You’ll need a cylinder mower with rollers at the front and the back of the cutting cylinder. The front roller is usually grooved, which helps line the grass up for even cutting. The back roller presses the grass down in a single direction.

It’s the rolling action that gives each stripe its apparent variation in colour. The grass, of course, doesn’t actually change colour; it’s just the way the light reflects on the rolled surface that gives the appearance of stripes.

You achieve the stripes by:

  1. Mowing up the lawn in a straight line.
  2. Turning the mower.
  3. Mowing in an adjacent straight line down the lawn.

Et voila: Wimbledon stripes in suburbia.

Mulching or removing grass clippings

Most of us think we should remove grass clippings from the lawn, but – in some cases – it’s better to leave it to mulch.

Mulch is a layer of organic material that sits on the surface of your soil. Grass cuttings make excellent mulch for your lawn but generally require shredding to assist organic breakdown. You can buy a mulching kit for the best results.

The BBC recommends leaving clippings on the lawn in the spring and summer, suggesting that they provide around 30% of the lawn’s nutrient requirements as the clippings decompose. However, they advise removing the clippings at the beginning and the end of the growing season because decomposition takes longer and could suffocate your grass plants (especially in wet conditions).

In the autumn, scatter grass clippings around your plants in their flowerbeds. This insulates the soil and helps maintain moisture. And as the clippings decompose, they provide nutrition for your plants.

Leaving grass clippings on the surface of the lawn means that you don’t have to empty the grass bin of your mower, and it provides an extra layer of protection during the summer.

TOP TIP: Rake fallen leaves from your lawn in the autumn to prevent suffocating your grass. Raking them into your flowerbeds between your plants provides an excellent mulch layer to protect your perennial plants over the winter.

By mulching, you return nutrients to the lawn

Which type of lawn mower should I use?

Lawn mower on long grass

There’s a surprising range of lawnmowers on the market. They all have their pros and cons, of course. Read on for details.

Hover mowers

Hover mowers have a single blade that spins at speed, creating an air pocket beneath the body of the mower, which causes the whole unit to hover slightly.

Hover mowers are easy to manoeuvre and much less effort than cylinder mowers. As the name suggests, the mower glides over the surface of the lawn and cuts as it goes.

Hover mowers are convenient and quick to use but can’t achieve the classic striping effect (unless the entire mower sits on wheels (with accompanying rollers)).

Most hover mowers are electric, but you can also choose petrol- or battery-powered.

Cylinder mowers

Cylinder mowers contain a reel of spiralised cutting blades. When pushed, the grass is caught between the spiral cylinder and an additional straight cutting blade, making a clean cut (as long as the cutting blades are sharp).

Cylinder mowers are powered by electricity, petrol, diesel, or batteries.

If you want the striping effect on your lawn, use a cylinder mower.

Manual push mower

If you have a smaller lawn, you might consider a manual push mower – a cylinder mower that’s powered by pushing.

This option is far more physically demanding than powered machines, but there are no cables and you don’t need to buy petrol. These machines make very little noise.

Ride-On Mower

Ride-On mowers (sometimes referred to as “riding mowers”) are perfect for large gardens and are great fun to use.

Ride-On mowers tend to have a much wider cutting deck and are capable of excellent striping. These machines are usually petrol-powered, although some are available with car battery-style cells that are rechargeable.

Perfect for large lawns or narrow strips between trees, ride-on mowers are versatile and take a lot of the effort out of mowing the lawn.

Robotic Lawnmower

Robot lawnmowers are the ultimate in convenience, but they come with a hefty price tag. On the other hand, it could be a good investment because you’ll never have to cut your lawn by hand ever again.

Similar in operation to a robot vacuum cleaner, a robot lawnmower navigates its way around the lawn. Some models have weather sensors, GPS navigation, and even smart connectivity (charging itself when it needs it).

You can operate a robot lawnmower from an app on your smartphone.

How do you maintain your lawnmower?

All lawnmowers require regular maintenance to help prolong their life, but also to protect your grass.

Regular oiling of the moving parts helps keep the mower in tip-top condition while sharpening the cutting blades ensures a clean-cut (rather than a tear).

Remove mud and grass clippings after each use and store your mower in a dry place.

Lawn Mowing: 8 tips for a beautiful lawn

TIP 1: Always mow with sharp blades

For a clean-cut, mow your grass with sharp blades. Blunt blades tear the grass, which dries out the plant and leaves the grass blades open to infection and disease.

TIP 2: Mow weekly in the spring and summer

Grass grows faster in the spring and summer. By mowing weekly, you’ll keep your lawn in tip top condition!

TIP 3: Only mow when the grass is dry

Wet grass tears, so ensure that the grass is dry before you mow. This benefits the quality of your grass and is better for your cutting blades.

TIP 4: Do not mow when it is too cold

The best temperature for mowing grass is between 12 and 20 degrees. Mowing when it’s too cold will damage the plant.

TIP 5: Always take The 1/3 rule into account

Cut up to a third of the grass length at a time. This way, the grass retains its vigour.

TIP 6: Mow in different directions

Varying the direction and pattern of cutting each time you mow helps your grass grow straighter and healthier.

TIP 7: Maintain your mower during the winter

Replace the oil, air filter, and spark plugs if your mower has them. Lubricate all moving parts and ensure that the blades are sharpened. This way, your mower is ready for the new mowing season!

TIP 8: Trim the edges of your lawn.

Don’t forget to cut and trim the edges of your lawn for the neatest look. Use a strimmer or a manual edger to cut crisp lines.

Ready to get started? Or do you want more information?

We hope you feel a bit more knowledgeable after reading this article. But you might still have questions.

We love to be helpful, so if you have any questions – whether it’s about this article or anything to do with developing your perfect picture-perfect lawn – get in touch.

Email us at hello@moowy.co.uk.

We’re looking forward to helping you.

 

 

How to keep your lawn in shape this summer

Ahh, the British summer – that most unpredictable of nature’s gifts. T-shirt tans, knotted hankies, and beautiful, seemingly endless days of scorching heat; followed by monsoon-like downpours that flood our lawns and ruin summer get-togethers.

It’s true to say that your lawn sees a lot of weather during a typical British summer, so how DO you keep it looking green and luscious throughout this most tricksy of seasons?

Grass grows faster in the summer and needs some special attention. So, in this article, we’re going to explore how to keep your lawn in perfect shape with expert summer tips that result in fantastic results every time.

Ready? Let’s get to it.

Summertime watering – what time is best?

Probably the most significant challenge during hot spells is the lack of rain. When your lawn needs water, it lets you know by turning an unattractive shade of yellowish-brown. Grass needs around 2.5cm of water each week during the summer so, if the skies aren’t providing, we need to get the hosepipe out and give the lawn a good drenching.

The best time of the day to water is the morning; well before the sun hits its hottest around 3 pm. This gives any water laying on the leaves time to evaporate to prevent scorching and plenty of time for the surface water to penetrate down into the roots.

Avoid watering in the evening because your lawn is likely to remain wet overnight, promoting fungi and disease.

Summertime watering – how often?

A sprinkler spraying water over a lawn

Never overwater your lawn because it makes the roots lazy and the plant less drought-resistant.

Decent intervals between watering forces the grass’s roots to burrow deeper into the soil to seek out water – this is good for the plant’s longevity.

Deeper roots strengthen the plant and will help keep the grass green even during periods of minor drought.

Water twice a week to a total of 2.5cm, including rainfall. We realise it’s difficult to know how much water that actually is in real terms – I mean, do you stand there with the hosepipe for ten minutes or an hour?

How to calculate 2.5cm of water

The easiest way to gauge the amount of water you need is to use a sprinkler. Leave a rain gauge (or a cup will do) on the lawn while you sprinkle and measure how long it takes to fill the gauge to a depth of 2.5cm. For the most accurate reading, use three cups placed at varying distances from the sprinkler, and measure the average.

If it takes half an hour to reach 2.5cm of water, then run your sprinkler twice a week for fifteen minutes each time.

What about totally scorchio days?

After sweltering days – where the mercury hits the 30s – provide a light sprinkling in the late afternoon (once the sun has started dropping) to help cool the lawn down. (but only if the grass is looking a little limp and tired).

Remember:

Watering a little every day makes your lawn’s roots lazy. Leave intervals between watering to encourage root depth and drought-resistance.

Mow the grass regularly but not too short!

Lawn mower and tools

Regular mowing is the key to a beautiful lawn because it forces the plant to produce more blades of grass from each crown (aka “tiller”). Mowing at least once each week in the summer ensures a thicker lawn as it grows back.

However:

Mowing Tip #1:

NEVER mow more than ⅓ of the leaf – this causes the plant to lose essential moisture and stored sugars. Cutting your grass too short results in yellow/brown patches and a generally unattractive lawn.

Most grasses don’t tolerate being cut too short. If you want that quintessential manicured lawn, like a golf putting green or the immaculate grounds of Downtown Abbey, you’ll need to choose the right type of grass seed, such as MOOWY’s Premium Lawn grass seed.

Mowing Tip #2:

Make sure your lawnmower blades are sharp.

Blunt blades tear the leaf, leaving a large wound on the grass blade. And hot weather causes that wound to dehydrate the grass blade quickly.

Keep your cutting blades sharp!

Mowing Tip #3:

Never mow during the hottest part of the day (3-4 pm). Mow in the morning or late afternoon.

Mowing Tip #4:

This isn’t really a mowing tip, but it is a tip on maintaining the moisture in your soil:

Keep your grass longer; that means leaving the cutting blade higher during the summer.

Longer grass:

  1. Slows the evaporation of soil moisture
  2. Keeps the earth cooler
  3. Absorbs more morning dew

Fertilising grass in the summer

Your summer lawn probably sees the most action: garden parties, sunbathing, ball games, mowing, heat, drought. In short, a summer lawn needs resilience.

All plants need feeding for optimal growth, appearance, and longevity, and your lawn is no different. Use a summer fertiliser, such as MOOWY’s Easy Mow fertiliser, to give your grass the nourishment it needs to see the summer through.

Our Easy Mow fertiliser contains 60% organic and slow-acting nitrogen, which helps maintain a deep, rich green colour while boosting the grass plant’s natural ability to photosynthesise for food.

But:

Be careful to avoid over-fertilising your grass because it stresses the lawn. Always read the instructions on the packet.

A few summertime fertiliser tips:

  • Never spread the fertiliser when it is warmer than 25 degrees – this can cause scorching.
  • Fertilise in the evening on warm days, but never during a heatwave.
  • Use a slow-release, slow-acting fertiliser, preventing leaf scorch. Slow-release fertilisers mean that you only need to fertilise every 4-6 weeks.
  • Mow the lawn before you fertilise so that the feed reaches the base of the plant more easily
  • Fertilise only when the lawn is dry. Otherwise, the fertiliser will stick to the leaf, causing it to burn.
  • Water your lawn immediately after fertilising
  • Respect the recommended amount to use. More fertiliser is not a greener lawn!
  • Fertilising only works on actively growing grass. If the grass is dormant (due to drought stress, for example), it won’t absorb the nutrients.

Strimming and trimming lawn edges

Person using a lawn edging tool

It’s all very well having a beautiful lush lawn (and if you follow our tips, that’s precisely what you’ll have!), but most grass varieties are creeping plants that spread quickly.

If you’re not careful, your grass will spread into your flower beds, so cut the edges with a strimmer or edging tool. Not only does it prevent spread, but it makes the edges look much neater – win-win.

Trim the edges of your lawn every eight weeks for best results.

Remove weeds

If you take good care of your lawn, you’re less likely to see weeds growing within the texture of the grass. A healthy, well-fertilised, regularly mown lawn doesn’t give weeds a chance.

However, some weeds do creep in every now and then. If you’ve let the lawn go a bit, then you’ll probably need to scarify.

But, if you have just a few weeds, you can remove them by digging them out of the earth with a knife. Make sure you remove the whole root system; otherwise, they’ll just return.

Fill in the holes in your lawn with a little compost or garden soil, and cover with MOOWY Quick Repair grass seed.

Keep the new seed moist, and after a week, fresh grass will appear.

Explore Our Help & Advice Page

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our expert tips; use them to keep your lawn in shape during the summer.

We have plenty more tips and information about achieving and maintaining the perfect lawn on our Help & Advice page.

Thanks for reading.

Watering Your Garden: 10 Top Tips!

We all know that we need to water our gardens. But how much is too much? And how much is too little?

When is the best time to water? How much water do your plants need? And how often should you water your lawn? It’s all questions, questions, questions, isn’t it!

Luckily, this blog provides the answers to everything you’ll ever need to know about watering your plants. And if you still have a burning question at the end, just get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help.

Because, just like humans, plants need nourishment from the sky and the ground to survive and thrive.

Here are our ten expert watering tips for a beautiful garden.

Tip 1: Identify your soil type

First things first: your soil. Do you understand the water retention properties of the earth in your garden?

Don’t worry – you don’t need a degree in agriculture to identify your soil type – you just need a handful of soil to squeeze.

Yes: squeeze. Water it first, then grab a handful, and squeeze.

Once you’ve squeezed a handful of soil in the palm of your hand, you’ll know (in no uncertain terms) what type of soil you have:

  • if the soil clumps firmly together in a lump, you have a heavy clay soil
  • if the earth falls apart and holds little form, you have a light, sandy soil

Heavy clay soil retains water well (but can quickly become waterlogged). Sandy soil retains moisture poorly (and dries out much more rapidly than clay).

If you have sandy soil, you’ll need to water more regularly. If you have clay soil, you should leave it longer between watering.

For more details about soil conditions, check out our article: How To Improve Your Lawn in a Shaded Garden.

Tip 2: Develop a sprinkling strategy

Water sprinkler in action

You can water your garden by hand, of course. It can be calming and satisfying to sprinkle water using a can, but it’s also time-consuming if you have a large garden. And if you’re watering your lawn, it takes forever with a can.

The most time-effective method of watering, by far, is using a sprinkler or soaker hose system (see Tip 8)..

But before you just set your sprinkler to sprinkle every day, there are some things to consider.

In the wild, very few British plants can expect water every day. Sure, we all moan about the British weather and complain that it rains too much – but, on average, it rains 1-in-3 days in the UK.

If you water your plants every day, their root systems become lazy. Plants are only as healthy as their roots – overwatering encourages roots to spread little and remain shallow in the soil. We want our roots deep into the ground, helping the plant develop greater drought resistance, while absorbing the nutrients to be found in the deeper earth.

So, develop a watering strategy. For a lawn:

Check the weather forecast and make sure there’s no rain ahead.
Water once or twice a week – about 2.5 cm of water, causing the water to penetrate more deeply into the soil. This will make the roots search deeper for water.

Deeper roots keep your lawn greener for longer, even during drought and when hose pipes are banned!

Tip 3: water in the morning

Believe it or not, the time of day you choose to water is significant.

The best time to water is in the morning – but this advice comes with caveats: you don’t want the leaves of whichever plant you are watering to be wet while the sun is at its hottest because it will scorch the leaves.

So, early morning is best when the sun is still low in the sky.

As well as scorching the leaves, full sun will cause the surface water to evaporate (see Tip 8).

If you leave watering until the evening, there’s a higher chance that you’ll encourage mould and vermin – the surface of the soil remains wet and cold all night, and this is the perfect environment for mould.

Saving tip 4: Save rainwater

We might think that running the tap is free, but you’ll quickly discover how expensive it can be to water your plants if you’re on a water meter.

Rainwater, on the other hand, IS free and usually in reasonably plentiful supply in the UK.

Rainwater is rich in minerals and doesn’t contain lime (like tap water), making the water quality soft and perfect for your plants. Additionally, the temperature of rainwater is less likely to shock your plants (it’s more likely to be closer to the air temperature).

Saving tip 5: Collect water in a water butt

We tend to think of drought as the product of a long, hot summer, but drought can occur at any time of year. A drought is a period of unusually low rainfall, but it can also be caused by heavy demand for water supplies.

So, wherever possible, it’s always best to collect rainfall in a water butt. There’s a range of styles and sizes of rainwater harvesting systems, but the simplest are really affordable.

Just think of the savings against your water bill.

Simply attach your water butt to a downspout from your roof guttering, and it will collect rainfall for later use. Keep a lid on the butt to keep the water clean.

Find out everything you need to know about collecting rainwater here.

Saving tip 6: Design your garden smartly

Believe it or not, but the placement of your plants affects how much you need to water them. You can save water by considering how much direct sunlight your garden receives.

Most gardens have sunny spots as well as shaded areas covered by overhanging trees or walls. Some plants are more naturally drought-tolerant than others – arrange your plants by the amount of water they need. Shrubs and bushes tend to be more drought-tolerant than smaller, single-stemmed plants.

So:

Place your drought-tolerant plants in the areas that get the most sunlight and your more thirsty plants in the less sunny spots.

Of course, most plants need lots of sun to thrive, so always read the plant’s label when you buy it from a garden centre (or the seed packet if you’re growing from seed)..

Saving tip 7: Mulch – covering your soil

Mulch around a new seedling

Mulching helps save water by minimising evaporation and suppressing moisture-stealing weeds. Mulch also improves the appearance of the soil around your plants.

A good layer of well-rotted mulch helps warm up the earth in the spring, retain moisture during the summer, and encourage greater water penetration in the winter.

You can cover your ground with biodegradable mulch, such as garden compost, leaf mould, well-rotted manure, straw, or wood chippings. These organic mulches contribute nutrients to the soil, but they’ll need regular topping up.

Non-biodegradable soil coverings such as slate, pebbles, gravel, or stone chippings can be a better longer-term mulch, but they don’t break down and provide nutrients. Any dark-coloured mulch will warm the soil up in the sun, whereas lighter-coloured mulch keeps the ground cool.

Alternatively, you can choose a sheet (or woven) mulch for longer-term coverage.

Saving tip 8: Use a Drip

A soaker (or drip) hose is a porous hosepipe, designed to leak. It ensures that whatever water you provide gets to the plant’s roots.

One of the problems with watering from a can (or a traditional hosepipe) is that the water doesn’t always penetrate deeply into the soil before the sun evaporates it. And some plants (like courgettes) dislike getting their leaves wet, so a soaker hose is an ideal solution and uses 70% less water than traditional watering, providing continuous watering at a slow dripping rate.

Connect your soaker hose to the garden tap or your water butt.
Keep the water pressure low (use a regulator if you’re unsure).
Make sure the water butt is suitably elevated so that there’s enough water pressure!

A drip hose prevents overwatering and makes excellent use of your water butt.

Summer tip 9: Prevent Legionella

Always drain residual water from your garden hose, especially during the summer months.

If you leave your garden hose in full sun, the water that sits in the pipe heats up, creating the perfect environment for the Legionella bacteria to develop.

You probably know that Legionella (more commonly known as Legionnaires Disease) is a potentially life-threatening respiratory condition – effectively a severe form of pneumonia. If the water sitting in your hose is contaminated, you can inhale some of that bacteria while you spray.

Err on the side of caution: rinse your hose before use.
Remove the nozzle and hang the end into a bucket filled with water.
Leave the tap running for a couple of minutes with the end of the hose submerged in the bucket to prevent spray.

Winter tip 10: drain your garden hose

Man spraying water from a hose

You probably don’t use your hose during the winter months (unless you’re washing the car), so ensure that you drain it thoroughly before putting it away for the winter.

Any water that remains in the hose can freeze when the temperatures plummet.

We’ve probably all left a bottle of wine in the freezer before (or is that just me?). If you forget about it and the wine freezes completely, the liquid expands as it freezes and breaks the bottle. This can happen with your hosepipe.

So, drain your hose entirely so that you’re not rushing off to the DIY store in the spring.

Leave some comments!

There you are! 10 Tips on watering your garden.

Do you have more water tips? Leave them in the comments.

Thanks for reading. Happy watering, everyone.

Is Your Grass Type Right for your Garden?

If you want the perfect lawn, you need to choose the grass type for your garden. But all grass looks the same, right?

Wrong.

This article will help you identify the predominant grass species you have in your existing lawn. And we’ll explore which species is more likely to thrive in your garden based on climate and soil type.

So, get comfy. We’re about to learn all about grass species.

Identifying your hardiness zone

Now, we’re suddenly going all American for a moment, because we don’t tend to consider the UK to have different climate zones like they do in the US. In the United States, they have three principal climate zones for grass (or Plant Hardiness Zones):

Warm Season grasses grow better in the south
Cool Season grasses grow better in the north
And across the middle of the mainland, there’s the Transition Zone (where you choose between Warm and Cool grasses depending on your proximity).

The US is MUCH bigger geographically than the UK, of course, and we don’t really have the same degree of climate variation across our island. However, the north of the UK is noticeably cooler than the south (in both temperature and edginess!).

For the most part, our climate is most similar to the US Cool Season grass zone.

USDA Plant Hardiness

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) define the Warm/Transition/Cool zones and, although this is a North American standard, it has been largely adopted worldwide to help gardeners understand the land they cultivate.

The hardiness zones are defined by the ten-year average in weather conditions, so – in a country as meteorologically diverse as the UK, there’s a little more to it than a horizontal slice between the north and south.

What are the USDA Zones in the UK?

Depending on which source you use, the UK’s hardiness zones are defined as between 6 and 9, although The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) defines the entire UK as Zone 7.

However, we must remember that we’re an island – and coastal weather is different from inland.

Map of the UK's USDA hardiness zones

Here, you’ll see the weather climate zones, from 7 to 9 (with a few 10s on the coast of the Republic of Ireland). Our climate is defined by cool (but not fierce) winters and warm (but bearable) summers, with a frost-free season between early spring and late autumn.

Essentially, the lower the zone number, the lower the average temperature. These zones are used to identify how well any plant will withstand the colder temperatures during the winter.

So, take note of your zone as you read on. (If this all sounds a bit over-complicated, don’t worry: MOOWY offer seed mixes that proliferate throughout the UK, regardless of the zone. More about that later).

OK, all the geeky weather stuff out of the way; onto your existing lawn!

What type of grass do I have in my garden?

Most of us inherit a lawn. That’s not to say it gets left in someone’s will, of course – we just mean that you inherit a lawn when you move into a property. So, most of us don’t have a great deal of control over the TYPE of grass we currently have.

But this article is all about finding the correct type of grass for your garden, so if you’re dissatisfied with the quality of your grass, there’s a high chance that’s it’s not thriving because it doesn’t suit the conditions.

A rule of thumb for the best quality lawn: seed mixes are best because they have the most significant level of resistance and robustness.

Perennial Ryegrass

Most lawns in the UK are mainly perennial ryegrass, a hard-wearing species that can tolerate warm sun and minor drought conditions. It germinates quickly and handles the frosty snap of British winters.

However:

Ryegrass alone might become clumpy and patchy if you don’t look after it. And – after a while – these lawns begin to thin out and develop bald spots.

The principal features of perennial ryegrass are:

  • Perfect for cool-season regions – that’s mild winters (as in the UK) and warmish Summers.
  • Fast germination (so good for overseeding)
  • Withstands minor shady spots
  • Minimal maintenance (other than fertilising)
  • Tolerant to heavy use

Perennial ryegrass has poor disease resistance and is a slow spreader. Once damaged, it’s reluctant to bounce back, so a seed mix (like one of MOOWY’s mixes) will help to boost your lawn’s resistance.

What does it look like?

Perennial ryegrass, long and unmown

Perennial ryegrass thrives in USDA zones 2 to 8 and has medium- to dark leaves, with a fine-leafed texture. It grows densely and tends to maintain its good looks after heavy use.

To maintain the health of perennial ryegrass, it’s important to fertilise your soil regularly.

Red Fescue

Red fescue thrives in USDA zones 8-10, so it works well in warmer parts of the UK. With a deep root system, red fescue is particularly resistant to heavy use and drought conditions (once established).

Red fescue struggles with intense heat, but – unfortunately – we don’t get a lot of that in the UK. It goes brown and dormant in high temperatures or heavy humidity, but it will rebound once the conditions are more suitable.

Red fescue grows quickly and spreads well, and is remarkably tolerant of sandy soil.

The principal features of red fescue are:

  • Very deep roots, making it resistant to drought
  • Particularly pest-resistant
  • Copes well in moderate heat – perfect for warmer parts of the UK, particularly zones 8 onward

What does red fescue look like?

Red fescue with a single red poppy

Red fescue is characterised by its very fine blades and a deep, attractive emerald green colour. This species spreads quickly via rhizomes (underground stems) which helps the grass recover from damage.

Red fescue can be cut shorter than perennial ryegrass, so it is particularly recommended for ornamental lawns but is commonly found on golf courses and recreation fields.

Kentucky Bluegrass

Much like red fescue is not red, Kentucky Bluegrass is not blue. And despite its name, Kentucky Bluegrass is native to Europe and North Africa.

So, that’s confusing, isn’t it?

Kentucky Bluegrass (KBG) has what is described as a broad, “boat-shaped” leaf and has a rich, deep, dark green colour. It’s tolerant of heavy use and goes dormant during periods of drought. It turns dry and brown in the summer unless you water it.

This is your cooler climate grass type and does well in USDA zone 7, so it grows most vigorously during the spring and autumn. Because it favours moderate heat and can withstand British winters, KBG is particularly recommended for northerly UK climes.

Kentucky Bluegrass needs quite a high level of maintenance to keeps its healthy look.

What does it look like?

The leaf is described as “boat-shaped” – however, think canoe rather than cross-channel ferry. It just means that the species is broad-leafed.

Kentucky Bluegrass is winter-hardy, but it’s not a fan of drought, so it will require watering during the summer to maintain its beautiful dark green colour.

So, what type of grass should I choose?

The Weather

Think about your weather first. Perhaps what characterises the British climate more than anything is its unpredictability.

But:

We could consider some cliches as rules of thumb:

  • The warmest part of the country is the South Coast.
  • The wettest part of the country is NOT Manchester, contrary to popular belief. Swansea and Plymouth are the wettest cities in the UK; Manchester is the 17th!
  • Coastal towns are windier than inland towns and cities.

Check your weather conditions here.

Your soil type

Soil types are different all around the country. In fact, soil conditions can change from street to street.

When you consider your soil, think about its density. Heavy clay holds onto water and doesn’t drain quickly. Sandy soils dry out very easily (regardless of the amount of local rain you experience).

Choose a grass type that tolerates drought well if you have sandy soil. If you have a heavy clay soil, think about giving it a hand with drainage. Find out how here.

Consider a grass seed mix

Ultimately, like a pedigree dog, mixing species offers greater resistance to disease (and drought). But never allow a dog to experience drought!

Seed mixes offer the best of all worlds, but getting the mix right for yourself can be tricky.

Luckily, you don’t really need to worry because you can get premium seed mixes from MOOWY. We’ve expertly blended grass species that accommodate the entire UK climate.

Power Lawn

MOOWY’s Power Lawn mix has a high percentage of perennial ryegrass (80%), mixed with red fescue to improve resistance. This seed mix is suitable for all UK climate zones and produces a Premier-League quality turf.

As the name suggests, Power Lawn grass seed proliferates and keeps going regardless of the pounding you might give it throughout the year. The 20% mix of red fescue provides hardiness to heavy use.

Premium Lawn

Our Premium Lawn grass seed is a high percentage mix of red fescue (75%), which tolerates shorter mowing. So, if it’s that classic, manicured look you’re hoping for, Premium Lawn is your mix of choice. The other 25% is a mix of perennial ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass, making this mix hardy and perfect for all UK climates and soil types.

Remember, red fescue does best in moderate heat, so if you’re in the hottest parts of the UK, it might get scorched. However, the mix with perennial ryegrass and KBG gives it more resistance, and it should cope in even the warmest regions.

Quick Repair

As the name suggests, MOOWY’s Quick Repair grass seed is especially recommended for overseeding and replenishing the bald spots that appear in high-percentage perennial ryegrass.

With an 80% mix of perennial ryegrass, Quick Repair germinates and establishes quickly. But it’s the 20% mix of red fescue that offers greater structure, density, and resistance to drought and disease.

Designed for overseeding, this seed mix does well in all UK climate zones. It’s also recommended for starting new lawns from scratch.

Shade & Sun

One of the big problems with many British gardens is the lack of sun we experience – or (perhaps, more precisely) the inconsistency of sunlight.

Even if your lawn is south-facing and open, sunshine often struggles to penetrate rain clouds, even during the summer.

So, Shade & Sun grass seed has been developed to thrive in both full sun and shaded areas.

The high percentage of red fescue gives this seed mix its shade tolerance, while the perennial ryegrass (40%) offers speedy growth and Kentucky Bluegrass (10%) provides structure and strength.

Again, this seed mix is perfect for all UK zones but does particularly well in cooler, northern climes.

Sport & Fun

Our Sport & Fun grass seed is a mix of perennial ryegrass (60%), red fescue (35%), and Kentucky Bluegrass (5%).

This is our most robust seed mix, offering the best all-round results regardless of soil type, climate, and region.

If your lawn experiences high levels of use, then consider Sport & Fun the perfectly balanced mix of grasses to maintain beauty, colour, and texture, regardless of the service it provides.

All Grasses Require Feeding

If you want a beautiful lawn, it doesn’t matter what type of seed you choose unless you commit to a regular feeding routine.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to sowing grass seed for the best results.

Keep a lookout for our expert’s guide to fertilising your lawn. Coming soon!

Get in touch

Hopefully, you feel better informed about your grass type, but if you have more questions, we’d be very happy to help.

If you have any questions, email us at hello@moowy.co.uk. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading.

Well mown Kentucky Bluegrass lawn
Kentucky Bluegrass – Photo by Joshua Boman on Shutterstock

Buying Grass Seed – Everything You Need To Know

You want a beautiful, weed-free, robust, and resistant lawn. So you need the right type of grass seed. But where do you start?

You could lay down new turf. Or you could sow your new lawn from seed.

Laying new turf is a good option, but it’s expensive and quite a back-breaking task. And there’s no guarantee that the grass you buy is suitable for your soil or the conditions in your garden. Some grass loves shade, while other types need full sun.

If the soil conditions aren’t right, then your expensive turf will struggle to establish.

Sowing grass seed, on the other hand, gives you greater control over the outcome. You can choose a seed mix that matches your garden conditions and a species that suits the amount of use you expect from your lawn.

This article is going to give you the low-down on sowing your new lawn for yourself. We’re going to cover how to sow grass seed and care for a new lawn that’s grown from seed.

And if you have further questions at the end of it, just get in touch. We’re always happy to help.

What types of grass seed are there?

Before you dash off to the hardware store, decide what you want from your lawn.

Consider:

  • Do you want a decorative lawn or one that can handle high-traffic use?
  • Do you want that quintessential manicured lawn?
  • Should it feel soft and yielding underfoot?
  • Is your garden in full sun or shade? Or a mix of both?

So many questions, so many grass seeds.

Fret not: we sell four main types of grass seed to suit each of those conditions.

Here’s how to choose.

1. Grass seed for a robust sports and play lawn

Child playing football on a lawn

If you have kids or grandkids or pets, you probably need a lawn that stands up to some pretty heavy battering. If you’re planning on making lots of use of your lawn over the summer months, then you need a grass seed mix that can support heavy usage.

MOOWY’s Sport & Play lawn seed is the ideal choice. The seed germinates quickly and provides a beautiful dense grass cover that will resist ball games and child play.

Our expertly curated grass seed mix combines coarse and fine grasses, including a high proportion of fine-leaved Perennial Ryegrass, which can take a beating and survive unscathed.

So, children can play, and pets can run free with Sport & Play lawn seed which recovers quickly and stays beautifully green during the winter.

” Sport & Play Lawn seed can take a beating,
so let your kids romp and pets run free.”

2. Grass Seed for Shade and Sun

Rainbow over a shaded lawn

Not all grasses do well in the shade. You’ve probably noticed that areas around trees and buildings, fences, or walls lose their lushness quickly. Those areas go thin and weedy. And moss takes over.

MOOWY’s Shade and Sun grass seed is designed to thrive in shaded areas, but – as the name suggests – you don’t need a different seed mix for areas that enjoy full sun. Our specially selected seed mix contains a high percentage of Red Fescue, which has a fine structure and thrives in shaded areas. This grass species is drought-resistant and can tolerate acidic soils, so if you have conifers or pine trees, Red Fescue is a good choice.

Shade & Sun grass seed also contains a high proportion of Perennial Ryegrass for robustness and success in the sunnier spots of your lawn.

Also containing Kentucky Bluegrass which gives your lawn strength and sideways growth, which thrives during the cooler seasons, giving you an all-year-round beautiful lawn.

Don’t worry: Red Fescue isn’t red, and bluegrass isn’t blue. They both grow into lush coverings that burst into a vibrant green. You’ll have to paint your grass if you’re looking for a psychedelic lawn!

3. Grass seed for ornamental lawns

A beautiful ornamental garden

If your lawn is there for its good looks rather than its practicality, then you might consider an ornamental lawn. You can, of course, still walk on a decorative lawn, but the finer grass of ornamental lawns isn’t as resilient to heavy use.

You can cut ornamental lawns much shorter than courser grasses intended for heavy use. The finer grass recommended for ornamental lawns can be cut to within an inch of its life for that quintessential English, manicured lawn. Think putting greens on golf courses and Downton Abbey – most domestic lawns aren’t capable of that perfect soft surface.

Our Premium Lawn grass seed comprises a high proportion of Red Fescue – a super fine grass, cultivated for its fine structure and dense spread, which produces a full and thick lawn. But Red Fescue on its own wouldn’t provide the resistance your lawn needs for the unpredictable English weather, so we’ve combined it with some Perennial Ryegrass for fast germination and resistance and Kentucky Bluegrass, which adds robustness.

4. Rapidly germinating grass seed

Sowing grass seed by hand

You might be looking to repair a failing lawn or start from scratch by seeding a brand new lawn. Either way, you probably want fast results that last.

We have two products that help repair and start new lawns in no time: Power Lawn and Quick Repair.

Our Power Lawn seed establishes within 7-14 days and creates a thick covering of vibrant green that can withstand super heavy use. In fact, our Power Lawn grass seed is developed by the same company that provides grass seed for FIFA World Cup stadiums.

Of course, football is an autumn/winter sport, so Power Lawn has the robustness for all-year use and can come back after some heavy battering.

If you’re starting a new lawn entirely from scratch, Power Lawn may well provide the fast, long-lasting results you desire.

However, if you’re looking to patch up the bald spots in an existing lawn (or restore your lawn after scarifying), Quick Repair lawn seed is the fast-germinating solution.

Which grass types are widely used?

We’ve mentioned a range of grass varieties, but it can be confusing if you’re new to grass seed. In this section, we’re going to talk about the common properties of each of the grass types so you can make an informed decision about which will suit your garden and your needs.

You’ll find that our grass seed mixes are carefully proportioned to accommodate different garden conditions.

English ryegrass

You might hear the terms “English Ryegrass” and “Perennial Ryegrass”. Just for clarity: they’re the same thing. The official name for this type of grass is Lolium Perenne. This type of grass is native to Europe.

Perennial ryegrass germinates quickly and forms a dense turf that can withstand heavy foot traffic and has a beautiful shine to its leaves. With impressive longevity, Perennial ryegrass is resistant to the unpredictable British weather. It lasts for years and years with exceptional longevity, making it particularly suitable for sports fields and play lawns. You’ll find high levels of perennial ryegrass in municipal lawns at parks and public buildings for these reasons.

So, if you intend your lawn to be the site of parties and games, choose a seed mix with a high proportion of perennial ryegrass.

Red fescue

As we mentioned earlier, Red Fescue isn’t red (despite its name) – it’s a beautiful shade of emerald green. The species is also sometimes known as creeping red fescue and is particularly suitable for cooler, shadier climates (so it’s good for the UK), but it does well in full sun as well.

You can recognise red fescue by its needle-like leaves which grow in tufts, giving the grass a springy feel underfoot. When red fescue is allowed to grow long, the heads of the blades form spikelets that resemble wheat. You often find this type of grass on roadsides.

Red fescue mows well, recovering quickly from cutting (as long as the blades of your mower are sharp!).

Field broom grass

Field broom grass is a hardy, slow-growing species with a thick stem that can withstand heavy use, drought, and winter conditions. When you travel abroad, you may have noticed that the ornamental grass in hotels has thicker blades than the grass we have in the UK – that’s broom grass, chosen for its drought tolerance.

The fibrous root systems of field grass help bind the soil together, so it’s particularly valuable in hilly areas, helping maintain the form and curvature of the ground, preventing soil erosion.

Field broom gets used in the rough in golf courses and some playing fields. This species is so-called because the blades, when dry, are often used for making eco-friendly garden brooms. It’s also believed that sweeping your home first thing in the morning with a grass broom helps eradicate negative energy and thoughts.

” Field broom grass can withstand foot traffic, drought and winter conditions.”

Italian ryegrass

Italian ryegrass is a high yielding, fast-growing, short-lived grass (lasting for just two years in most circumstances). The species flowers after each mowing, producing pronounced wheat-like ears.

Often grown for animal fodder and silage, Italian ryegrass responds well to fertilisers. However, because it tends towards upper growth instead of broader-based growth, this grass is more suitable for cutting than grazing.

You’re unlikely to have Italian ryegrass in a domestic garden due to its short lifecycle.

Ostrich grass

Ostrich grass grows in thick tufts and grows in sandy, well-drained soil. This grass species is often found on golf courses because it can be cut very short – perfect for the putting green.

Ostrich grass is hardy and grows in forests and on the roadside, retaining its deep green colour all year round – even in the winter.

Perfect for the archetypal manicured lawn, ostrich grass has high disease resistance and survives drought conditions well.

MOOWY’s grass seed mixes

The distribution of the grass species is as follows:

Sport & Play Grass seed Sun & Shade grass seed Premium Lawn seed Power Lawn grass seed
English Ryegrass 60% 40% 15% 80%
Red fescue 35% 40% 60% 20%
Field broom grass 5% 10% 105 0%

How much grass seed do you need per m2?

The amount of grass seed you should spread depends on whether you’re overseeding your existing lawn (repairing bald spots, etc.) or starting a new lawn from scratch.

Overseeding should be an annual task to maximise the beauty and strength of your lawn. All lawns develop bald spots, either from heavy use or in areas of poor growth. Poor growth may occur as a symptom of other circumstances, such as moss or weeds taking over patches of the soil, so these areas will probably require scarifying before overseeding.

Overseeding requires less grass seed than starting a new lawn from scratch. As a rule of thumb, we recommend 17g per square metre for overseeding; and double the amount (34g per square metre) for sowing from scratch.

To estimate the surface area of your lawn, you can measure it in steps. A large step is generally around 1m in length. So take large strides along the length and width of your lawn to work out a close estimate of its overall area.

Tip: View your garden on google maps and calculate the size of your lawn based on the scale.

When is the best time to sow grass?

Grass seed germinates when the soil temperature is 10ºC. But, remember: the air temperature and the soil temperature are very different. The air warms up more quickly (and loses heat more quickly) while soil warms up slowly but retains its heat for much longer.

For this reason, it’s best to wait until at least February before you consider sowing grass seed, regardless of whether the air temperature has been above 10 degrees. Use a soil thermometer to be really sure (press it at least 5cm into the earth to gain the temperature below the topsoil).

Even though the air temperature may have dropped by September, your soil should retain the summer’s heat until around October – after that, the soil temperature will have probably dropped too low.

However, there are other factors to take into account for successful grass seed germination. Check out our article, The Ultimate Guide to Growing Grass Seed.

What should I consider when buying grass seed?

If you’ve decided what kind of lawn you’re looking for, it’s time to make your purchase.

But before you do, bear in mind the following considerations:

Check out the grass types in the mixture

Use the seed type section above to ascertain the type of grass you need for the conditions for your garden. Remember, if you have a sunny/shady garden, choose a mix that accommodates both requirements, such as our Shade & Sun blend.

Remember: when buying grass seed, check the packaging for the types of grass within the mix (and the proportions).

Quality of the seed

It might surprise you to discover, but there’s a big difference in the quality of the lawn seed you can buy. It’s always advisable to buy good quality seed – cheaper seed may have a lower guaranteed germination rate. The resultant grass from low-quality stock is less resistant and may only last one season.

It’s easy to test the germination capacity of your seed stock. Like this:

  1. Moisten a paper towel.
  2. Place ten seeds on one half of the wet towel and cover the seeds with the other half of the towel.
  3. Place the towel in a polythene bag, seal it, and put it in a warm place (like on top of your fridge.
  4. Wait a couple of days and start checking. Grass seed should germinate within 7-10 days. You should see shoots from the seeds. Leave it for a week or two, and identify how many of the seeds have sprouted.
  5. If nine seeds have sprouted, you have a germination rate of 90%. If ten seeds have sprouted, it’s a germination rate of 100%.

This process works for all seeds and is a helpful way of testing old (or gifted) seeds to make sure they’re going to germinate before committing to planting them.

MOOWY grass seed will provide one of the highest germination rates on the market. Our seed may be a little more expensive than competitor stock, but you’re much more likely to achieve better long-term results with MOOWY grass seed. We always recommend going for an A-Brand seed.

Resealable packaging

When you buy a bag of grass seed, chances are you’re not going to use the whole pack in one go. So, it’s essential that you can rely on the packaging to preserve your seed for later use.

Seed left in open packaging can go mouldy, and the seed will lose its germination power.

When purchasing, ensure that the product is provided in an easy-resealable packet.

Apply the grass seed mixture

Once you’ve determined the right mix for your garden conditions, it’s time to lay the seed.

Grass seed needs exposure to light AND direct contact with the soil. It’s best to rough up the ground’s surface before laying the seed to ensure good seed contact. If you’re overseeding, rake the seed into the soil after scattering: the seed can get stuck in the blades of your grass and won’t germinate unless they make contact with the earth.

Refer to our Ultimate Guide to Sowing Grass seed article for expert advice for optimal results.

Where can you buy grass seed?

It’s possible to buy grass seed in various places: in garden centres, hardware stores or online.
Buy grass seed in a hardware store or a garden centre
One of the main advantages of buying grass seed at a garden centre or hardware store is that you can ask the staff for advice. However, the advice they give is likely to be pretty general – they won’t know the specific conditions of your garden.

When you buy off-the-shelf seed, you’re at the mercy of the selection offered at the store. Remember: not all grass seed is developed with equal expert care!

Buy grass seed online

It might feel like a risk to buy grass seed online because – perhaps – you feel like you want to speak to someone and discuss your needs.

Luckily, MOOWY offers a free consultation service – just email us at hello@moowy.co.uk for help, and we’ll happily oblige.

Use our online store to compare the products and read the reviews that detail other buyers’ experiences.

We offer plenty of choices. Our seed mixes are curated by our own experts, who have many years of experience sourcing and developing excellent seed mixes for guaranteed results. And, in the unlikely event that you’re unhappy with the outcome, we’ll refund you; no arguments.

Our products are delivered directly to your door within a couple of working days.

How long does it take grass seed to grow?

Each lawn seed blend is different, with some varieties germinating and establishing more quickly than others. In general, however, you should see the first signs of growth within 7-14 days.

New grass plants are sensitive, however. We recommend leaving new grass plants at least three months before you start walking on it and mowing it.

Do you want to get started yourself, or do you want more information?

After reading this article, you might feel a bit more knowledgeable; you now know which questions to ask for optimal results in your garden.

Remember, if you have any questions – whether it’s about this article or anything to do with developing your perfect picture-perfect lawn – get in touch.

Email us at hello@moowy.co.uk.

We’re looking forward to helping you.