The Gardener’s Corner

The Gardener’s Corner

A condensed guide to the broad topic of lawn care

Erik gives advice on mowing, power raking, fertilizing, rolling and aerating your lawn

Lawn care is a topic you can write a book about.

To mow a lawn, what can make that a big issue? It is not. From my experience in gardening service in Victoria, I had this opportunity to have 25 well-maintained lawns, which reflected my slogan of Scandinavian workmanship.

What I’m going to explain has to do with some dos and don’ts.

If the lawn needs mowing, do not use a lower setting; just let the mower blades touch the grass’s top; if you want to cut the lawn lower, do it gradually each time. Please do not use the grass bag because the grass clippings help to fertilize the lawn; even leaves, it is called mulching.

The only exception is if the lawn needs power raking due to the grass having been left tall from last year. Power raking (dethatching) is done to remove dead grass or moss too thick for the lawnmower to cut.

If you have moss growing in your lawn, it will kill the grass. Moss only increases if the pH. If the soil is below six, to correct this, lime must be applied. In that case, the first thing to do is to do the power raking on a nice, sunny day.

The dead grass you are raking up is perfect for compost. This is also the time to take a soil sample to find out what the pH is by using a soil testing kit.

You will then know how much lime to apply and it can be done right now. Do not fertilize until June. This is because the nitrogen in the fertilizer is not available to the roots due to the cold night temperatures and consequently gets washed out.

I have, over the years, used slow-release fertilizer on lawns with great success. The nitrogen (N) is sulfur-coated and therefore released over three to four months. If this is what you will use, get it now as the stores will run out.

A question about what to do with earthworms: if you have bumps on your lawn, you have earthworms. After you have mowed the lawn the first time or done the power raking, rent a lawn roller to level the lawn.

Aerating a lawn is a practice most misunderstood by many.

Aerating is done for only one reason, to make water penetration to the grass roots in a high traffic area, like a golf course where the ground gets compacted.

If this is not your case, don’t do it; it is a waste of time. If you need to do it, rent a machine. The plugs left on the lawn have to be raked up. You then need to order course sand to be wheeled out and dropped in small piles around the lawn area. You then take a garden rake to turn it upside down to spread the sand evenly into the holes left by the aerator.

If you have questions or suggestions for topics, please email me at