Lawns – from sowing and laying to tending to your grass

View from a patio onto a green lawn. There are a few bushes around the outside. Mountains can be seen in the background.
© Getty Images / Alexandre Zveiger

In this article

Everything you need to know about different types of grass

Whether you are reseeding or replanting a lawn, you will find a large selection of lawn seeds for your garden in specialist stores. These are always mixtures of different grass types and varieties. Due to the diversity and precise composition of the mixtures, the lawn will subsequently be more adaptable to different conditions in terms of location, soil, climate, usage and maintenance.

DIY stores, supermarkets and discounters also offer lawn seed mixtures which range from robust pitch and sports turfs to special combinations for shade-tolerant grass and reseeding lawn for repairing bare patches. These are often cheaper than the sorts available from specialist seed dealers. In do-it-yourself stores you can often find inexpensive, lower quality products alongside high-grade products. It’s always worth taking a close look.

Many of the mixtures available are grass varieties that have been bred as fodder grass. Although these mixtures grow very quickly, they also displace existing grass and don’t tolerate frequent mowing. After a certain period, large holes often still remain on the lawn where dandelions and wild herbs will resettle. These plants can prove very difficult to get rid of again.

High-quality turf mixtures, on the other hand, are the result of extensive research. These grass varieties usually grow slowly and evenly and therefore produce fewer seeds. Obtaining high-quality lawn seeds is therefore more costly.

You can also recognize a high-quality mixture by the fact that it bears the designation RSM (Recommended Seed Mixture) on the packaging. Major suppliers of such certified seed mixtures include ericschweizer.ch, hauenstein.ch or ufasamen.ch.

Tip: it’s best to choose varieties which will produce grass that remains low and spreads horizontally.

A modern house with a wooden construction extending onto the patio. A well-cut lawn can be seen in front of the garden furniture.

Not all lawns are the same: there are sometimes big differences in the seed mixtures. Growth and density are important properties.

Step 1: scarify

Whether you want to repair an existing lawn by reseeding, or maintain and activate it regularly after winter, scarifying is the method of choice in both cases: it stimulates the oxygen supply to your lawn, for example if moss is spreading over the grass or the grass is affected by lawn thatch.

Scarifying is principally recommended in spring between mid-April and the beginning of May, as the lawn is particularly good at regenerating during this period. Before scarifying, trim your lawn to a height of 3 to 4 centimeters. If bald spots appear on your lawn after scarifying, then now is the right time to reseed. Suitable gas or electric scarifiers can be rented from specialist dealers or DIY stores.

Step 2: aerate the lawn

Whereas scarifying is to remove dead grass and lawn thatch, aeration serves to ventilate the ground right down to the roots of the blades of grass. When aerating, you pierce holes 5 to 9 centimeters deep into the lawn. Use spikes that are 1 to 2 centimeters thick to loosen the soil. This will activate the soil life and the growth of the lawn. At the same time, add lawn sand to the soil – and, if necessary, supplement with lawn seeds and fertilizer. Another positive effect of these measures is that rainwater will run off more effectively, which in turn prevents waterlogging.

You can obtain various aerating tools in stores: an aeration fork, which is a bit like a manure fork, allows you to manually punch holes into the ground. Alternatively, you can use motorized aerators or lawn rakes. These machines have hollow tines on a rotating roller to provide aeration. And finally, there are also nailed shoes available on the market, which have long spikes like football boots. You simply walk across the lawn wearing these shoes to achieve the desired aeration effect.

An electric scarifier stands on a lawn.

It’s easy to scarify and aerate the lawn with an electric tool.

Step 3: sow seeds or lay turf?

When planting a new lawn, you can choose to lay turf instead of sowing seeds. However, this alternative is neither less costly nor less strenuous. The rolled turf will simply be ready for use more quickly. You can walk on it immediately. If you opt for a freshly sown lawn on the other hand, it usually takes about three months before you are able to use it completely and put full weight on it.

Have the turf laid by a professional to make sure that nothing goes wrong. Gardening and landscaping companies charge around 9 to 15 francs per square meter for the professional laying of turf. The pure material costs for rolled turf including delivery are around 5 to 7 francs per square meter.

By way of comparison, good lawn seeds for an area of 100 square meters can be purchased from around 35 francs, depending on the supplier.

You can start sowing at the end of April or beginning of May. Turf is slightly less sensitive, so it’s possible to lay it from mid-March onwards. Both require sufficient watering after spreading or laying. That’s why the high summer is unsuitable.

Hence the advice: if you missed the right time in spring, it’s best to wait until late summer or fall.

Four rolls of turf on a wheelbarrow. Several strips of lawn have already been laid in the background.

Turf has a great advantage: since the grass doesn’t have to grow on it, it is ready for use immediately. It doesn’t require any less work though.

Step 4: prepare the ground

But regardless of whether you opt for rolled turf or seeds, in both cases the soil must be well prepared for creating a new lawn:

  1. You will need a spade or a motor hoe to dig up the soil – suitable equipment is available from specialist dealers and DIY stores.
  2. After digging, you should remove pieces of roots and larger stones from the soil.
  3. Take a close look at the soil in your garden before sowing: if it’s hard and loamy, you should spread grass sand before sowing. This gives heavy soil a permeable consistency. This is necessary because grass grows best in loose soil.
  4. Now level out any coarse unevenness in the ground with a rake.
  5. Then level the ground with a lawn roller to achieve a nice, straight lawn. You can often rent lawn rollers from specialist retailers, garden centers or DIY stores.
  6. If unevenness is still visible after rolling, take out the rake again.

The quantity of lawn seed you need per square meter is usually stated on the packaging. Each square meter of lawn generally requires about 25 grams of lawn seed. If you have a good eye, you can sow evenly from your hand with a slight swing, although a spreader will enable you to work more accurately.

Even after sowing, roll the terrain once again horizontally and vertically to ensure good soil contact. In other words, pressing the seeds into the ground will make sure that they are in proper contact with the soil. Alternatively, you can rake the seeds to cover them with soil. You can also choose to sprinkle the seeds and cover them loosely with potting soil.

Step 5: look after the grass: irrigation, fertilization and mowing

Irrigation

It’s important to keep the seed moist at all times, especially immediately after sowing. Water or sprinkle the lawn several times a day for five to ten minutes at a time. Even later on, it’s better to water generously so that the water reaches even the deepest root ends. Otherwise, the grasses will form roots near the surface and dry out more easily.

Mowing

You should mow your lawn about once a week during the gardening season. If it is very hot and dry, mow a little less often to protect your lawn. Basically, the best way to maintain your lawn is to cut back the stems by a third at most.

Tip: only mow dry lawns. Wet grass clumps easily and therefore cannot be cut uniformly.

Fertilization

Lawn fertilizer should be particularly rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Trace elements such as magnesium and iron provide extra enrichment for the soil and give the grass a rich green color. If necessary, combination products are suitable for fertilizing while combating moss and weeds at the same time. The addition of iron sulphate helps protect against moss. Long-term fertilizers avoid the need for constant re-fertilization and provide the lawn with nutrients over longer periods.

But watch out: young seedlings are very sensitive to a high concentration of nutrients and are quickly over-fertilized. In addition, their root system develops more vigorously when they have to search the soil for nutrients a little further. You should therefore be careful when adding fertilizer after sowing.

A man mows his lawn with a gas lawnmower. He is holding a child in his arms. Brown spots can be seen on the lawn. There is a mountain chalet in the background.

You should only mow the lawn in dry conditions. About once a week is usually sufficient.

Step 6: find and remove weeds

Whether it’s moss, white clover or any type of daisy: in general, none of these plants are welcome on a lawn because they gradually take over. It’s true that you can get to grips with these unwanted plants mechanically: firstly with the lawn mower, and secondly with the scarifier. But you won’t stop the weeds completely this way. So what should you do?

Weed killer

You can find a wide range of weed killers in specialist shops and DIY stores. They kill the pests by means of growth substances: they trigger uncontrolled growth in plants, so that they eventually die. In a household with animals or children, however, you should seek detailed advice from a specialist retailer before using a product, as it may be toxic.

Home remedies

You can also destroy weeds with natural and biological methods:

  • Some pests can be driven away with charcoal ash.
  • If thistles are watered after mowing, the plants will rot.
  • By covering the weeds with black foil, you deprive them of their vital light. Even weeds are dependent on a sufficient supply of light.
  • Boiling water kills unwanted weeds.

But watch out: with the last two methods you can also kill the remaining blades of grass. Therefore, both are only recommended if you are planning to lay a new lawn.

Liming

You can get rid of unwanted moss on the lawn by liming. Moss usually thrives best in acidic soils – when the pH level is below seven. In this case, liming improves the soil quality and drives away the moss.

Fertilization

A lack of nutrients is often also to blame for the spread of weeds. This means that you can easily remedy this deficiency with fertilizers. They will give your lawn more power to fight the resilient weeds. It is best to combine fertilization with scarifying.

A man and a woman together examine the lawn in front of a house. There are small heaps of earth in the foreground.

Weeds should be detected and removed promptly. In addition to weed killers, household remedies are also a popular solution.

Lawns: additional tips and tricks

Tip 1: the right temperature

Don’t start trying to look after your lawn too early in the year: wait until the outside temperature is above around 15°C during the day, as the lawn plants will not become active until then. Mosses and weeds, on the other hand, thrive well even at lower temperatures. If you start getting your lawn ready too soon, you will simply prepare the soil for more weeds rather than for the grass.

Tip 2: sufficient watering

Your only chance of growing a lush green lawn is to water it enough. If you don’t water it properly, it will turn yellow and the grass will die. Watering can represent a considerable expense, especially for large areas. With a permanently installed sprinkler system, you can water the area without much effort; a watering computer makes the process even more convenient – even if you are on holiday.

Tip 3: how to mow larger surfaces

Another helpful tool for maintaining an opulent lawn is a mowing robot that takes over the task of mowing large areas without complaining. Depending on the model, mowing 200 square meters takes between one and six hours.

Tip 4: check the pH level

You should also check the pH level of the soil from time to time. Test sets are available at low prices in specialist shops and DIY stores. If the level is not optimal, yellowish, brown or bald spots will appear on the lawn. Moss spreads well on acidic soil with a pH-level that is too low. A pH level just below seven is ideal. You can use lime to prevent the pH level of the soil from falling too much.

#Lawn

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