Garden Action

The premier gardening information source

Feeding and Weeding Your Lawn (continued page 4)

Feeding and Weeding Your Lawn


One question has to be answered prior to feeding your lawn. Do you wish to use chemical preparations or do you only wish to use natural means? The evidence suggests strongly that a better lawn can be achieved with the use of chemicals, but this takes no account of the environmental impact of chemicals. GardenAction describes both methods and leaves the decision to you.

First let's consider the key elements of the ideal lawn feeding programme which applies to both natural and chemical feeding.


Nitrogen Essential Grass grows quickly with a lush green colour.  Chemical, grass cuttings, compost. Spring and summer.

Phosphate Essential Healthy root system, early growth in spring. Chemical, bone meal. Autumn

Potash Beneficial Improves resistance to disease and drought. Chemical, compost. Spring or autumn.

Lime Special cases only. If grass is thin and very mossy, this can improve it.   Hydrated garden lime. Autumn

 Option 1 Feeding Your Lawn Naturally

Sprinkle a handful of bone meal per square meter (yard) over the lawn in autumn / fall. The rate of application is not too critical because bone meal will not burn the lawn and takes time to break down and release nutrients. This will provide your lawn with a good supply of phosphate throughout the year.

The best way to feed your lawn naturally with nitrogen is to leave the the lawn cuttings on the lawn every other time it is cut. The grass cuttings will quickly decompose and return nitrogen to the soil. Where this is done, best results are achieved where the lawn is scarified a couple times each year. 

An additional source of nitrogen, is well rotted compost which is crumbly and on the dry side. Well-rotted and crumbly leaf compost is the very best addition to a lawn although all well-rotted crumbly compost is good. Spread it over the lawn so that it barely covers the surface, then rake it well into the lawn so that none remains on the surface. This can be applied in spring or summer, but is of best use when applied in spring.

This is not so essential for a good lawn. However, the best source is well-rotted compost applied as described in the paragraph above.

There is no natural source of lime that can easily be applied to a lawn. But if you keep your lawn in reasonable condition, there will never be a need to apply lime.

 Option 2 Feeding and Weeding Your Lawn With Chemicals

There are three readily available lawn feed compounds, each designed for a specific purpose. These are:
  1. Spring and summer feed compound. This is rich in nitrogen with a small amount of phosphates. This should be applied in spring when the grass begins to put on some growth.
  2. Autumn / fall feed compound. This is rich in phosphates with little nitrogen. This should be applied in autumn when the grass starts to grow more slowly. 
  3. Lawn sand. This is a mixture of ammonium sulphate, iron sulphate and fine sand. it is used to kill a wide variety of weeds and is especially good at preventing and killing moss in lawns. Additionally it provides a long term tonic for your lawn and has a definite 'greening' effect. It is normally applied in late spring but where moss is a problem it can also be applied in summer. 

Study the instructions carefully before applying any of the above treatments because over-application will result in damage to your lawn. If the lawn suffers from over-application, water it very well for a day and in all likelihood it will recover.

Apply the treatments when the weather is dry but there is the prospect of rain in a day or so. If rain does not appear, water well for a day. Do NOT apply any of the above to a new lawn - wait 12 months for a seed sown lawn and 6 months for a turf / sod laid lawn.

When choosing any of the above, go for a well-known name and you will be OK. In general, all the brands are the same, they merely vary the balance of the chemicals slightly. One exception however is that some brands have slow release formulas which release the chemicals into the lawn over a longer time than standard varieties. It is well worth paying the extra money for these brands.

 How To Apply Fertiliser

Whichever method you choose, it is essential that the treatment is applied evenly to avoid scorching the lawn in places. 

First rule is use gloves and wash your hands afterward - remember, you are using dangerous chemicals. The best method is to use half going up and down the lawn then use the other half going crossways across the lawn.

Normally this means adding the treatment to a specific amount of water in a watering can. Sometimes, there are attachments for hoses. This method is quick acting and less likely to cause scorching.

The treatment is added to a container in a wheeled trolley which dispenses the chemicals evenly as the trolley is moved along. If the instructions are followed, this method ensures even distribution.


Name: jim@GardenAction
Date posted: December 21, 2011 - 04:05 pm
Message: There'll be nothing to do until spring. All activity shuts down until then.

Name: Ed Staunton
Date posted: December 20, 2011 - 06:50 pm
Message: I have not fed my lawn since August...its now December.....what can I add to it now to help it? I am a REAL lawn neofite

Name: Peter Preston
Date posted: September 12, 2011 - 06:47 am
Message: My lawn was turfed a year ago and is looking good but I now have white toadstalls coming overnight. Is there something I can do to prevent this.

Name: mark tran
Date posted: June 05, 2011 - 05:45 am
Message: hi,my back garden lawn is 20ftx20ft,the lawn is patchy,more weeds then grass,please could u tell me how to treat this lawn,so i can have a lush green lawn without the weeds. thank you.

E-mail: Private
Date posted: January 17, 2011 - 05:15 pm
Message: lawn is being overtaken by crabgrass, how do i get rid of it?

Name: Jack Galko
Date posted: August 27, 2010 - 10:19 am
Message: Lawn is being overcome with nut seidge grass sine the weather has been dry and grass has not been has thick. How do i spot kill thei grass??????????