Grassing on the Lawns!

Here is a collation of information for looking after your lawn in the challenging Portugal climate.

We all like our green lawns. Whether you water your lawns throughout the hot months of the summer to keep your lawns green or let them go dry, this is the time of year to make sure we keep our lawns green, for at least some part of the year!

Scarifying, aeration and top dressing are words we have all come across before and this is the time of year to do it.

Scarifying: removing dead growth lawn2

Use a fan shaped rake to give air for the healthy grass to grow. If your lawn is very dry, scarify when dry and lightly scarify again when the first rain comes and you see the new, strong grass shoots coming through.

If you have moss in your lawn then a moss weed killer needs to be used a couple of weeks before scarifying so you are raking out dead moss.

Aeration: Putting air into your soil

Aeration is done by forking all of your lawn, making small holes in the ground 10cm deep, moving the fork when in the ground to disturb the soil underneath, every 15 cm apart. A thankless task but very necessary and helps drainage and root growth.

Top Dressing

Mix together top soil, sharp sand and a little amount of compost. Scatter the mix with your spade over all the lawn. Using a rake, flat side down, work the top dressing into your lawn.

Damaged Lawns

I have used the top dressing method on damaged areas, after clearing the dead grass and raked the bare soil, I have mixed grass seed with soil and some compost and scattered this over the damaged area, using a stiff brush to make sure the mixture gets in between any good grass. This method can achieve reasonable results.

Another suggestion is to cut out the damaged area of turf in a square and lightly fork over the soil in the base of the removed square. Sprinkle some crumbly top soil or compost over the base of the removed square and scatter the grass seed over the area at a rate of 15-25g per sq m (½–¾oz per sq yard) if no sowing rate is given on the packet or by the supplier. Cover the seed with a light sprinkling of top soil or compost to hide it from the birds and water in with a watering can fitted with a fine rose.

Repairing lawn edges lawn1

Dig out a square of the damaged lawn. Turn the damaged square through 180° and replace it so that the cut edge aligns with the lawn edge and the damaged edge is facing inwards and make good if needed as you would for a damaged lawn (above).


Mow mainly in Spring and Autumn, when the rains start the grass grows fast, and occasionally in the summer months. You should not mow between February and April, as this is usually a dormant period and never when there is frost. Mowing height is an important factor in keeping a good lawn. For early spring mowing set the cutting height on your lawn mower at its highest setting. Gradually reduce the height until you have reached your desired grass height. Avoiding close mowing which can damage a lawn.

Care for lawns during drought

Mowing – Raise the height of the cut in dry weather to avoid weakening the grasses and let the clippings fall back onto the lawn rather than collecting them so they act as a mulch.

Water your lawn in the evening or early morning or with sprinklers through the night.

If you follow this advice then lunch on the lawn next summer just may be a possibility.