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I have a large-ish garden and I live in West Yorkshire, UK. I moved to this house in December of 2016, and it is only now that things have settled down and I am able to spend some time doing gardening.

My lawn is full of a type of moss (I think), and I'd appreciate some advice on what I can do to get my lawn to be healthy green, similar to my neighbour's lawn.

The house used to belong to a lady in her late 50s. She seemed to love plants, but perhaps the lawn was a bit too much for her. The lawn was like this when we got the house.

Here are some images.

Mine is on the right. As you can see, the colour of the circular lawn isn't bright green, it is more like yellow!

1st pic

2nd pic

3rd pic

I've started working on the edging, but it is hard work. I'm fat, so I'm taking things slow. 4th pic

Am I right that the soil is too compacted? It certainly doesn't feel plushy when walking on it. 5th pic

I'm not sure if this is moss, but I have that too in one corner of the garden (towards the house, not the glass house). 6th pic

This is the moss that's all over the place. 7th pic

Here's a closer, clearer shot of the moss. 8th pic

  • Sorry, need a few close up images of the lawn - the only one I can access that you've posted only demonstrates that its not so green as next door's, can't see much detail. Have you used any treatments on the lawn since you moved in? Do you know the aspect, that is, which way your garden faces as in north, south... – Bamboo Jul 4 '17 at 19:56
  • If reading on a mobile device, click the blue button that says 'Load 8 more images'. I have a close up image there :) – J86 Jul 4 '17 at 21:15
  • Hmm, well that's not presented as an option on my android tablet I'm afraid, it just asks me to Open in App and I don't have that App, nor do I want it... – Bamboo Jul 4 '17 at 22:01
  • As I can't see the pictures for a more detailed look, here's a piece of advice - get hold of a copy of The Lawn Expert by D G Hessayon, you might find a copy in the library you can borrow. Tells you everything you ever wanted to know about lawns and lawn maintenance and problems specific to the UK... there's a copy second hand on Amazon for a penny plus postage. Products mentioned may be out of date, but there will be modern equivalents, and the general information within is still valid and useful. – Bamboo Jul 4 '17 at 22:25
  • Thanks @Sue for incorporating the images into the post, I'll do that next time :) – J86 Jul 5 '17 at 7:30
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Now I can see the images, a few things.There is not much moss, but there is dog lichen and what looks like new thistle growth coming through - either that or some kind of lichen growth, but if it feels prickly, its thistle. If it is thistle, it's stunted and small because it's being cut all the time. The presence of dog lichen is evidence of a compacted, poorly drained lawn which has not had any proper maintenance carried out, and which may frequently be waterlogged. Aeration is essential, even if that's only with a standard garden fork, and applying a moss killer such as Vitax Green Up Lawn Sand should also reduce or kill the dog lichen. RHS information on dog lichen here https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=414. There are embedded links in there giving advice on spring, summer and autumn maintenance for lawns.

Your lawn might benefit from an application of Verdone 2 (if those are thistles) which is a lawn weedkiller concentrate to be mixed in a can at the appropriate rates. You need to use it a minimum of 4 days after cutting the grass (because of the thistles, a week is better) on a day when there's no rain forecast and the grass blades are relatively dry. You may need to reapply next year - thistles are pretty resilient, but are not great in a lawn for bare feet. I do not recommend the granular, all in one feed, weed and mosskill preparations - the weedkiller element is ineffectual for one thing, and its really easy to under or over dose.

I'm curious as to why the lawn edge in the second and third picture is so much higher than anything which surrounds it - this is not good, because there's a high risk that standing on the edge will break the lawn up, and roots are fully exposed. Is there a reason why its like this, it looks like its been cut back with a half moon edger or similar recently.

It may be that your grass gets waterlogged in winter, or maybe it doesn't - if regular waterlogging occurs, then it may be necessary to install drainage. Either way, the evidence in your lawn means that 'deep watering' is almost the exact opposite of what it requires, though currently, you clearly haven't had a lot of rain, because the dog lichen looks like dry curly plates rather than soggy, bloated flatter ones. Still, where you live, it won't be long before you do get rain, I'm sure. Otherwise, I'm still going to recommend you get a copy of The Lawn Expert by D. G. Hessayon - it will be useful ongoing, but if you do get it, ignore any advice about killing earthworms in the lawn. The products that did this have long since been withdrawn, and earthworms perform valuable functions, so no one kills those any more.

UPDATE:

Yes, you can start treating your lawn now, especially given the presence of lichen, so aerate it now. But if you look at the RHS link, under non chemical control, click on 'spring and summer' and it will give some guidance as to what you can do now. The golden rule is never feed the lawn with a spring/summer formulation past August in the UK,and where you are, end of July, first week of August. There are Autumn feeds you can use in September though.

As for the link to the edging, well you could use it, but to be honest, although they seem like a good solution, they're a pain - the grass will overgrow and you won't easily be able to trim it back with 90 degree edging shears. Bear this in mind - if a lawn butts up at the same level to, say, paving, then every year in spring, you take your half moon edger and insert it at the edge of the grass up against the paving, and take out about a half inch in width of the lawn, to depth of about 2 or 3 inches. You do this because otherwise, the lawn will grow over the paving, and you take out that much so you can get your edging shears into that small gap and keep the lawn edge trimmed. That is not possible with this type of edging strip. But if you want to try it, that's your choice.

Because the lawn is not level, but humped up in the middle, a better solution is to remove the lawn altogether, re-level and lay new turf, but that's a lot of work. Alternatively, reset the paving stones in that area a little higher (you'll need to angle them so they butt up with the others around the lawn) and fill in any gap between those and the lawn with some soil, sloped down to the stones, and seed it, then follow the procedure outlined in the paragraph above this for keeping the edges tidy from spring next year.

UPDATE 2:

I just noticed the photo that shows a shrub, with the grass looking a bit grey beneath. All that needs is trimming with your half moon edger, taking out about 3-4 inches of turf to make a sharp edge. The only reason it looks the way it does is because the planting is too close to the lawn edge and it's not getting sufficient light and air.

  • yes I am in the process of putting in the edge, and yep it was done with a half-moon edging knife. The edge is higher because the lawn isn't 100% flat. It is higher towards the house (where the edge is) and slopes down as you go towards the glass house. I just bought this to help aerate the soil. – J86 Jul 5 '17 at 11:42
  • Good buy, in the circumstances. But that edge cannot be left exposed like that, it needs soil around it, with a small, narrow drop of about an inch or so between lawn and soil. Not sure how that will work though, the bits of paving further away appear to be much lower level, so you may need to raise those up. I can see the lawn seems to be curved up in the centre, so the levels aren't right really – Bamboo Jul 5 '17 at 11:44
  • Is it OK to start treatment right now (July)? or should I wait till mid autumn? A lot of sites says one should treat the lawn in autumn! – J86 Jul 5 '17 at 11:47
  • Should I use something like this for the edge? – J86 Jul 5 '17 at 11:49
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    It refers to the height of the blades of grass, so you need to work out which setting gives you which height by experimenting.. In the UK, its usual to make the first cut of the year relatively high so the blades aren't too short, but during summer, the average lawn (not luxury turf) can be cut to about an inch, unless you're in drought, when you make it a bit higher. I'm seeing the ends of your blades of grass are 'chewed' so check your mower's blades are sharp. USA advice for lawns varies, its a big country with varying climates,, and often, their lawn grasses aren't even the same as ours. – Bamboo Jul 5 '17 at 13:31
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You've purchased a home with a to die for landscape! We can easily help get that lawn into shape. I am assuming this grass is cool season grass (UK). I would aerate your lawn, rent an aerator that pulls plugs out of the lawn and then allow them to disintegrate on top of your lawn.

I bet this poor lawn has had no fertilizer, am I right? Go get if you are able to find, Dr. Earth's Lawn Fertilizer or another similar formulation of slow release lawn fertilizer (higher in Nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium, also comes with thatch eating bacteria)...follow the directions. You put more on than you do with the Scott's or Ortho lawn fertilizers, greens up slower but my goodness what a difference. Fast release fertilizers one needs to add at least 4X per season. This stuff only 2 or 3 times. Amazing results and I am not kidding.

Aeration, fertilizer...and make sure you mow NO SHORTER than 3". If your mower is not able to mow this high go get it raised! Water deeply! Do not water again until you are able to see your footprints in the grass stay down. THEN water deeply again. Do not water every day! Sharp sharp blades. Your lawn should come around quite well and be able to out compete the clover. Do not mow any shorter than 3"! Water ONLY when your footprints on the grass stay down. Fertilize with a rotary hand spreader, very cheap. Do not fertilize by throwing! Read the directions. Forget about 'weeds'...all I can see is clover which tells me your lawn needs fertilizer and the height of grass raised to 3"!

By watering deeply and allowing the soil to dry in between watering, that moss will go away. Watering every day will promote moss and shallow rooted weeds. Moss is NOT competitive it is an opportunist. If the grass is weak, if there are bare spots and lots of water...AND a lower pH moss will be there. Check the pH of your lawn bed soil. If it is lower than 6.5 you'll need to lime your lawn.

Mow no lower than 3", aerate. Leave the plugs, fertilize...slow release 'organic' balanced fertilizer higher in Nitrogen than the P and the K and water ONLY when you are able to walk on your lawn and leave footprints. Water very deeply...at least 4-6" deep at a time. You should eventually train your grass to only need a watering once per week or 1" of water per week. Saves on water! Your grass gets deep roots and in between watering shallow rooted moss and weeds will die out. 3" of grass will shade the soil so much that weed seeds are unable to germinate and with infrequent watering no seedling will be able to survive.

Fertilize with a great 'organic' fertilizer such as Dr. Earth's. I hate the word organic...along with natural. Those words are used so loosely. Regardless, this 'organic' fertilizer that comes with bacteria and formulated for the different parts of the season (early, mid, fall) is slow release and spectacular. And I know this because I cared for thousands of lawns. No lower than 3"!!

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    I'd like to point out this person lives in West Yorkshire, UK. You're probably unaware that precipitation in that part of the world is nigh on 80%, so 'watering deeply' is something that happens on a regular basis quite naturally, whether it needs it or not... – Bamboo Jul 4 '17 at 22:03
  • ...and I lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest. Makes it tough but not impossible. During the summer and dry times this method will encourage deep root systems. Problem is people are watering their lawns when it rains!! So much for global warming and drought, huh? Grins!! – stormy Jul 4 '17 at 22:09
  • ...it is the idea that is important to get across. I think anyhoo. – stormy Jul 4 '17 at 22:11
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    Drought? hmm, well here we go again. In some parts of the world, climate change will cause drought to become much more common - in others, excessive rainfall and flooding, in other words, more extreme weather events round the world, so I can't see the relevance of your reference to 'global warming' – Bamboo Jul 4 '17 at 22:15
  • +1, for aerating and mowing higher (especially the latter). No need to control moss. If the moss is even able to compete that means the conditions are wrong for grass. – J. Musser Jul 4 '17 at 23:01

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