Spring lawn care tips: how to revive your grass and get it looking tip-top this year

Discover our spring lawn care tips and get your lushest grass yet through raking, scarifying, mowing and feeding

spring lawn care tips: tulips around grass
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Now winter is (nearly) behind us, it's time to discover our spring lawn care tips. After all, the early signs of spring are already starting to show, from the first flowering bulbs to the slightly lighter evenings. It won't be long before everything bursts back into life after the quiet, dormancy period of winter.

For many of us, a luscious lawn is one of the most important features of the garden come warmer months. We all want picture-perfect grass that's a beautiful shade of green – lovely for lounging on, running across barefoot, or simply admiring from the patio. We certainly don't want an eyesore of shabby, moss-filled, half-dead turf to be the focal point of our plot.

To achieve the former, preparation is key. And whether your garden is large or small, we're here to help you on your way. So read on to discover our spring lawn care tips, from how to use your best lawn mower to advice on over-seeding, and more.

1. Give it a rake (but gently)

spring lawn care tips: rake

Use a garden rake to clear up winter debris and to lightly remove moss or thatch

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The turbulent weather of winter can cause leaves, twigs, and all other kinds of debris to fall onto your lawn. So, to kickstart its spruce-up, grab your best garden rake and clear it all up, so you're just left with the grass.

Then, you might want to think about scarification. This is the process of digging through the lawn to remove organic matter that can undermine the health of your lawn. 

You may have already done this in autumn, perhaps by following our guide on how to scarify a lawn. But, if it needs it, there's no harm in doing it again, albeit with a lighter touch. However, it's important to only do so when the grass is back into its growing phase and the soil is warm. This will ensure it recovers properly in time for summer.

Do I need to scarify, you ask? Well, RHS turf expert Nigel Downs shares his advice. He explains how you should start by taking a good look at your grass. Can't see the soil? Then that probably means there's a build up of thatch or moss which needs removing. Use a metal grass rake to do this and the improved air circulation and water filtration will lead to a much healthier lawn.

But before you start scarifying, mow your lawn, to remove as much initial debris as possible.

2. Take your lawn mower for a spin

spring lawn care tips: mowing lawn

Give your lawn its first cut of the year

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Your trusty best cordless lawn mower (or maybe you've opted for one of our low-maintenance best robot lawn mowers) has most likely been out of action for a while. Now it's time to dust off the cobwebs and wheel it back out of the shed, ready for the first mow of the season. But before you let it loose, there's a few top tricks to bear in mind. 

According to the RHS, your first mow of the year should be done using the highest setting – you can then gradually decrease this over time. The team at Homebase adds that a good rule-of-thumb is to never cut more than one third of the length at a time. The RHS also says to never mow when it is frosty or damp – this can compact the soil and damage the grass.

A final tip from RHS lawn expert David Hedges-Gower is to ensure your lawnmower has a sharp blade. This will also prevent damage and help the lawn's uptake of nutrients and water.

After a bit more guidance? Check out our advice on how to mow a lawn.

3. Neaten up the edges

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Use lawn shears or an edging tool to neaten up the borders

(Image credit: RHS/Tim Sandell)

It's simple but oh-so-effective to neaten up your lawn's edges. Eliminate straggly lines and create clean-cut borders using an edging iron or edging shears, as suggests the team at Homebase. It's a relatively quick but extremely satisfying job and will totally transform your lawn.

And once you've got things back in order, why not go the extra mile and add one of our modern edging ideas? They're a fabulous way to get an instant spring lawn update.

3. Get aerating

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All you need is a garden fork to aerate your lawn

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Nigel Downs, turf expert from the RHS, explains how aeration is an important part of boosting a lawn's health. It's straight-forward to do, too. 

Simply push a garden fork into the ground, all the way in, and then gently lean it backwards before pulling it out again. Move backwards 3-4 inches and repeat, all the way up and down your plot. This encourages oxygen to flow and improves root growth, leading to a lusher and more resilient lawn.

Nigel continues to explain that you can follow the aeration with a layer of top dressing. Start by sprinkling soil, compost or sand (depending on the conditions of your plot) over the lawn. For example, if you're working with heavy clay, then incorporating a sandy top dressing will improve its drainage. Unsure on the conditions of your garden? Take a look at our guide to soil types.

Then, using a rubber rake or broom, gently work this top layer into the existing soil. Be careful not to use too much, Nigel advises, or it might smother the grass. He adds that you can also top dress a lawn without aerating first – simply use a little less.

4. Nourish your lawn

spring lawn care tips: grass seed

Spring is the time to add fertiliser, or to over-seed

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Many people choose to use a fertiliser on their lawn in spring, to increase growth, and reduce weeds and moss.

Then, if your spring lawn is looking a little bare or patchy in places, you might want to give it a boost with some extra grass seeds – a process known as over-seeding. Nigel Downs, RHS turf expert, says how you can either add seeds to your top dressing, or add it to your lawn just before. Aim for approximately 30-40g per square metre for verdant results.

If no rain is forecasted for a few days, the RHS suggests to gently water the seed using a sprinkler. It should begin to sprout between seven to ten days later. And if birds are a problem? Protect the lawn with a net, until the seeds have germinated.

5. Water the grass (if necessary)

spring lawn care tips: sprinkler

Use a sprinkler during particularly dry spring spells

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Of course, every lawn needs water. In summer this is especially important – no-one wants a dry, yellowing patch of turf on their plot so a best garden sprinkler will come in handy. However, in spring, the intermittent showers generally take care of things, so you don't have to.

So, as the team at Homebase say, water only if necessary. And, when you do, it's best to stick to mornings or evenings – the midday sun will cause the water to evaporate.

When should I start preparing my lawn for spring?

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Spring lawn care should begin once the soil has warmed

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The best time to start preparing your lawn for spring is when any risk of frost has passed. This tends to be around late March to early April, but does depend on your region. 

By this time, the soil has generally warmed and the grass will be out of dormancy and back into growing mode. This means that it should recover quickly from any treatment and bounce back looking greener and lusher than ever.

What time of day is best to fertilise a lawn?

spring lawn tips: blossom over grass

Avoid fertilising your lawn beneath the midday sun

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The best time of day to fertilise a lawn is generally the early evening. Lawn fertiliser can be strong stuff and if applied when the sun is high in the sky and air temperatures are hot, it can begin to burn. 

By applying it in the evening, you'll also have more chance that the grass will be dry (rather than covered in morning dew). This is good for fertilisers which need to be applied on dry grass, but some actually work best on wet grass, so always check the label first. Most products then require watering in after they've been applied – but again, check your product's instructions.

A final note is to add fertiliser after mowing – this gives the fertiliser time to really do its job in-between cuts.

How often should you mow your lawn in spring?

The RHS advise to mow around once a week throughout spring. That is, unless your lawn is particularly flower-rich or you're after a slightly wilder, longer look. In that's the case, hold off mowing altogether until summer.

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!