British Columbia

How to get your lawn back in shape for the spring and summer

After heavy snow and months of rain, the odds are your lawn could use a bit of work

After heavy snow and months of rain, the odds are your lawn could use a bit of work

Is it time to turn the grass into green groceries? (lamcopphis/Flickr)

Between rain, snow, and even more rain, lawns across B.C have taken a heavy beating over a long and tumultuous winter.

But according to master gardener Brian Minter, the time is now to begin getting the greenery in shape for the summer — and that doesn't mean getting your grass replaced with artificial turf.

"Lawns have been taking a bad wrap for quite a period of time right now — and I think we can correct a lot of those things," he told stand-in host MIchelle Eliot on CBC's BC Almanac.

In fact, Minter says an average-sized lawn produces enough oxygen to keep four people breathing, all the while collecting pollution and providing habitat for beneficial insects (aside from the dreaded chafer beetle).

So grab a rake, and try these four tips that will transform your lawn from messy to marvelous as the warm season gets underway.

The dutch white clover is great for your lawn's pollinators, says Minter. (Maja Dumat/Flickr)

1. Sandy bottoms

Minter says the cold winter, and even drought conditions in parts of B.C. last summer, have left some lawns worse for wear — but there are lessons to be learned in the form of golf courses, and even soccer fields.

"They plant in one foot of pure sand and they have superb drainage — and they're always aerating, punching holes in and adding more sand," he said.

Use an aerator to pull plugs of lawn and soil out of the ground, allowing for improved drainage and air circulation. Applying a 1/4 inch layer of top sand over the aerated area will fill the holes and vastly improve drainage. 

"We need to be doing that now while the ground is still soft."

And don't use beach sand!

2. Reduce moss

The heavy winter and spring rains also work to increase the amount of moss on our lawns, says Minter.

While many gardeners might enjoy the look of moss, Minter has some words or warning.

"Moss burns off in the summer time — and it doesn't look so pretty."

Use iron sulfate for moss control, along with proper aeration and sand.

"When you have warm weather and a couple of dry days, the iron sulfate will take that off without causing anything harmful to the soil."

Minter says aerating lawns should be done as soon as possible to increase drainage. (allispossible.org.uk/Flickr)

3. Overseeding

Overseeding helps rejuvenate tired lawns and thicken up healthy ones, making it even more difficult for weeds to take hold.

To give grass seed a place to take hold, mow your lawn slightly lower than usual, use a rake to scratch up the area to be overseeded and sprinkle a bit of a peat moss/sand mix overtop, says Minter.

"Work your seed into that and cultivate it and grow it and nurture it — that's the organic way to keep your weeds at an absolute minimum," he said.

4. Beat the heat with white dutch clover

If you're worried about the impact of the hot sun on your lawn as the weather heats up, Minter suggests growing with dutch white clover — a nitrogen-fixing perennial that will improve your soil's health.

"Put it in with your grasses as your grow," said Minter. "It takes the heat of summer  — it's very, very heat tolerant."

With files from CBC's BC Almanac

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