A neatly mowed expanse of green lawn
Lawns are as important a part of British gardens as fish and chips are to our national cuisine! With a little regular care your lawn can be your pride and joy.

Helpful Information

Timing: Spring, summer, autumn

Where to do it: Outdoors

Garden space: Small garden, large garden

  • Some lawn care activities – like mowing - can provide a good regular workout, raising your heartrate. Pace yourself and take breaks as needed
  • Enjoy being outside, among nature. With mowing, you also get the smell of freshly cut grass appealing to your senses!
  • Enjoy the clear difference you can make to your garden, a sense of tidiness and keeping it at its best

Top tip

You may find that some of the more physical lawn care activities are too much for you. Lots of companies around the country offer lawn care and maintenance services. Getting professional help could also save the expense of buying or hiring equipment you only use once or twice a year.

Some lawn care activities can be done a number of times every year, like mowing. Others only need doing every few years, like aerating and scarifying. You could choose to do these less frequent activities in spring or autumn.

These are the key lawn activities to do by season:


  • Every year: Mowing, edging, feeding
  • Less often: Aerating, scarifying


  • Every year: Mowing, edging


  • Every year: Mowing, edging, feeding
  • Less often: Aerating, scarifying


  • Give your lawn - and yourself - a rest!

Read more about the main lawn care activities and how to do them below.

I've learnt how to use a hoe, I've learnt how to use an edger. I like anything new - I like a challenge, without hurting myself!

Rebecca, client gardener
A lawnmower on a healthy green lawn
A lawnmower on a healthy green lawn

When: spring, summer and autumn

How often: every 1-2 weeks, depending how fast your grass is growing

Mowing the lawn simply means cutting the grass, and there are many ways to do it.

You can start mowing in spring, once the grass has recovered after winter. Continue mowing regularly until autumn if you wish.

Lawn mowers usually allow you to set the blades at different heights. This keeps the grass a bit longer, or shorter, as desired. For the first cut of the year, always keep the blades as high as possible. You just want to do a light trim! After that, they can gradually be set lower.

Read our dedicated guide to mowing the lawn for more detailed advice, including ways to make it easier.

Top tip

People have very different opinions of what a beautiful lawn looks like. You could choose to mow your lawn less often. This may encourage flowers like clover to grow that insects love. Long grass will be harder to mow and clear and for some may make getting across the lawn difficult.

A grass border that has been neatly edged
A grass border that has been neatly edged

When: spring, summer and autumn

How often: typically, every third mow

When you edge your lawn, you create neat definition between your lawn and your beds, borders and pathways.

Some people choose to edge their lawn every time they mow. Equally, it’s fine to do it every third mow or less, depending how long the grass is. It’s a question of personal taste.

It can make sense to edge your lawn before you mow it. You can then use a rake or leaf blower to move the cuttings onto your lawn. These will be picked up when you mow.

Top tip

For more detailed advice, read our guide to lawn edging.

freshly cut lawn with border at the back
A lawn with lush green grass

When: spring and autumn

How often: every year (once in each season)

What you need

Essential tools

  • Lawn feed (dry or liquid feeds are available, visit your garden centre or look online for options)
  • Gardening gloves

Optional tools

  • Watering can / hose pipe

Tools to make it easier

  • Wheeled lawn feed applicator

Lawns benefit from a nutritious feed as much as people do. In spring, feeding improves growth and in autumn it encourages roots to develop.

There are a range of different feed types. Some liquid ones need to be mixed in a watering can, or some allow you to use your hosepipe. Dry feeds do not need to be mixed with water before applying.

Apply your lawn feed evenly across your lawn, following the specific instructions on the packet.

Make it easier

Dry lawn feed is generally lighter work to apply. Be aware, if you use this you will need to water the lawn afterwards. You could use a sprinkler to do this. Or, if you manage to choose a day before heavy rain is due, you may be able to save yourself the job of watering.

A wheeled lawn feed applicator helps to spread dry feed evenly across your lawn. It is particularly useful if you have a large lawn, or have difficulty walking.

A gardener pushes the spikes of a fork into their lawn to aerate it
A person pushing a garden fork into the lawn to aerate it

When: spring or autumn

How often: every 2-3 years

What you need

Essential tools

  • Garden fork

Optional tools

  • Gardening gloves
  • Hollow tine aerator (may reduce bending, but still quite heavy to use)
  • Rolling lawn aerator (push or pull up and down the lawn, avoids repeat bending)
  • Electric aerator (these are bulky and expensive, but could be helpful for large lawns)

Aerating helps ensure that air and water can get to the roots of your grass. Lawns usually need aerating every 2-3 years in either spring or autumn. As a test, push the metal bit of a screwdriver into the lawn. If you can’t push it into the ground, you may need to aerate.

To aerate your lawn, spike holes all over it. Space these around 20cm apart. To make your holes, press the tines of a garden fork or aerator into the soil.

Once you have aerated your lawn, you may want to gently rake in a top dressing. You can buy bags of this from garden centres. This will give some extra nutrients to your lawn.

Make it easier

Aerating the lawn can strain your back, arms and hands as you lift the tool out. Always 'warm up' with a few gentle stretches first, do a little at a time, and keep your back straight.

Make sure you aerate when the soil is not too dry or too wet, as this will make it harder to do.

Special spiked aerating ‘shoes’ are available. They are generally felt to be difficult to balance on and not very effective. Do read reviews if you are considering them.

Top tip

Aerating your lawn every few years is good for it, but if it seems challenging, it’s not necessary. Your lawn will be ok without it!

A spring tine rake is used to gently remove leaves and other debris from a lawn
A spring tine rake is used to gently remove leaves from the lawn

When: late spring or early autumn

How often: recommended once every 2 years

What you need

Essential tools

  • Spring tine rake (this causes less damage to your lawn than a straight steel rake)

Optional tools

  • Gardening gloves
  • Scarifying rake (has a longer handle and vertical blades, reducing bending)
  • Electric scarifier (these are bulky and expensive, but could be helpful for large lawns)

Tools to make it easier

  • Back saving tool grip
  • Long handled leaf grabber

Scarifying sounds complicated, the good news is that it’s very simple to do!

Over time, your lawn will collect dead grass and moss on top (known as ‘thatch’). This is bad for the health of your grass, as it stops water and nutrients getting to the roots.

To remove this unwanted material, rake gently all over your lawn. Don’t press too hard, as you don’t want to damage the soil when you do it. Some people prefer to scarify in autumn, when there are no new grass shoots to disturb.

Once done, you will have lots of piles of raked grass or thatch across your lawn. Pop these in your compost if you have one, or in your garden waste bin.

Make it easier

Scarifying can be tiring work. You don’t need to do it all in one go. Work in sections and take breaks.

Attach a back saving tool grip towards the top of the handle of your rake. This allows you to work at a more upright angle, reducing bending.

Use a long-handled leaf grabber to collect raked grass or thatch from your lawn without bending.

Top tip

Lawns are pretty tough and resilient. In a hot year, you may end up with a very dry, brown lawn by autumn.

A long spell of rain will fix it. Or, you may get bare patches that need some more grass seed. There are always ways to help your lawn get back to its best.

Help us continue to make gardening accessible for all. Make a donation to Thrive today. Thank you.

Make a donation

Sign up to receive gardening inspiration and tips to get the most out of your own gardening space, and improve your health and wellbeing at the same time

Choose which aspects of the gardening information service you’d most like to hear about.

Double your donation today!

The Big Give is back! Any donations from now until 5th December will be matched. Visit our Big Give page today.

Find out more