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Garden lawn makeover guide

How to improve your lawn in 12 weeks

Perk up your lawn with our expert tips on mowing, feeding and watering, in this practical step by step guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do To do in August

Do To do in September

Do To do in October

Do To do in November

Do To do in December

Our lawns have it tough over winter. Come spring, they may have bare patches or have developed areas of moss or weeds. But, if you still have a thin covering of grass, all is not lost – you can restore your lawn to its former glory.

Grass grows whenever temperatures rise above 7°C. With days lengthening and temperatures rising, early spring is the perfect time to begin a lawn rescue plan. It needn’t take up much time, as the best results come from a ‘little and often’ approach. By summer you’ll have a healthy lawn that’s able to withstand the wear and tear of regular use.

Browse our 12-week spring lawn action plan, below.

Grass grows whenever temperatures rise above 7°C. With days lengthening and temperatures rising, early spring is the perfect time to begin a lawn rescue plan.

Looking for the right kit to help you get your lawn into shape? Our experts have tested a range of manual and powered aerators and scarifiers – check out the best scarifiers and best aerators reviews. You can also keep edges looking neat with our pick of the best lawn edging.

How to get a perfect lawn


You Will Need

  • Lawn mower
  • Half-moon edger
  • Garden fork
  • Lawn seed
  • Hosepipe
  • Edging shears
  • Wheeled applicator (if applying moss killer)
  • Spring-tined lawn rake

Step 1

Mowing the lawn
Mowing the lawn

Give your lawn its first cut as the weather starts to warm. First mow in one direction, and then mow again in another direction to ensure you catch any blades you missed. Rake up clippings so they don’t smother young, emerging shoots. Neaten edges with a lawn edger.

Step 2

Boosting lawn aeration and drainage by spiking with a garden fork
Boosting lawn aeration and drainage by spiking with a garden fork

Improve aeration where growth or drainage is poor by pushing a garden fork 10-15cm into the soil. Wiggle it around to heave the soil up by a centimetre or so. Work backwards, spiking the lawn at 15cm intervals.

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Step 3

Removing a plantain weed from a lawn
Removing a plantain weed from a lawn

If you want a manicured lawn without weeds, dig up dandelions and plantains with a hand trowel. In large areas, you may consider applying a selective lawn weedkiller. When mowing, always mow in the opposite direction to the last cut, to prevent a ‘knap’ forming (where grass lays flat in one direction). Rake out as much moss as you can, then apply moss killer if desired. However, if you want a more natural look, where bees and other insects can forage for food, skip this step.

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Step 4

Scarifying the lawn with a spring-tine rake
Scarifying the lawn with a spring-tine rake

Use a spring-tined lawn rake to rake out dead grass and moss in areas of poor growth. If the lawn is large, tackle a small area at a time or hire a powered scarifier. Collect the debris. Your lawn will look ragged, but will soon recover. Mow with the blades set low.

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Step 5

Applying lawn feed
Applying lawn feed

From now on, when you mow the lawn, leave the clippings in place to act as a nutrient-rich mulch that will feed the grass. To help your lawn even further you can also feed the grass with a specific lawn fertiliser. Add a slow-release fertiliser such as pelleted chicken manure, a spring lawn feed or a multi-purpose feed during a mild spell. Water in well if there’s no rain on the way. Trim the edges if necessary.

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Step 6

Reseeding a bare patch of lawn
Reseeding a bare patch of lawn

Repair bare patches a few days after feeding. Break up the soil, scatter seeds, then sprinkle with potting compost. For thin areas, scatter the seed at half the rate stated on the packet, then lightly rake in. Cover newly sown seeded areas with netting to keep birds off.

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Step 7

Lawn sprinkler in action
Lawn sprinkler in action

Mow the lawn weekly or fortnightly, depending on how you want your lawn to look. Leave newly sown areas of lawn to sprout, without mowing, and keep them well watered. You could use a sprinkler if the weather is dry.

For help in choosing a hose see our expert reviews on hoses and hose reel kits.

Step 8

Mower with a rear roller
Mower with a rear roller

Firm in the roots of recently sown patches to ensure they establish well. If your mower has a roller, push it over the area with the engine off. Alternatively firm the grass gently under foot. Avoid mowing re-sown patches until the grass is 4cm tall.

Step 9

Tidying lawn edges with edging shears
Tidying lawn edges with edging shears

Keep mowing and edging your lawn when necessary. After just a few weeks, it should be looking healthy, dense and even. Make repairs after heavy use. Loosen the soil surface of damaged areas with a spring-tined lawn rake. On clay soils, spike with a fork to reduce compaction.

Step 10

Raising a mower's cutting height
Raising a mower’s cutting height

Raise the mower’s cutting height in hot, dry weather and water newly sown areas well. Keep the lawn lush by applying slow-release fertiliser to established areas, and add a milder, diluted liquid seaweed feed to recently re-sown patches.

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