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18 September 2013

Autumn Lawn Maintenance

There is definitely an autumn feel to the weather now so the time has come to think about what your lawn needs to prepare it for the winter. The effort put in now will be reflected in the spring.

With lower temperatures and shorter days your grass will be growing more slowly, so you can reduce the frequency of mowing and also raise the blade height. Ensure that your blades are kept sharp.

Apply an autumn feed in early autumn. These are high in phosphates and potash which help strong roots to develop, which will produce healthy leaves.

If your lawn is troubled by moss and weeds, you can apply a combined fertiliser, weed and moss killer in early autumn. This should also kill off any broadleaf weeds though you could also choose a selective herbicide to do this or just dig them out by hand.

If your lawn has suffered a lot of wear and tear over the summer you may want to overseed some areas, or even all of it, and autumn is the time to do it. The seed will germinate before winter and fill in any thin, worn areas.

Top-dressing is the application of loam, sand and well-rotted organic matter to a lawn in order to correct surface irregularities and improve the texture of difficult soils, which in turn encourages greater rooting and thickening of turf. This is another job for autumn and is best undertaken when the lawn is dry. If you decide to topdress your lawn to even out any depressions it is a good idea to add grass seed to your topdressing.

If your lawn has a problem with moss you will need to scarify it, but will do a better job if you apply a moss-killer first to help kill some of it off. Just let the moss turn brown before scarifying, after which you may need to overseed thin areas.

Scarification will reduce the build up of dead grass matter, roots and moss in your lawn and can be carried out by hand using a spring-tine rake, or by means of an electric scarifier which you should be able to hire locally. I have hired one in the past and found it to be quite effective.

You will probably need to spend some time in the autumn removing leaves from your lawn - possibly by means of a rake or brush. A thick layer of leaves will weaken the grass and provide shelter for unwelcome garden pests. I have quite a large lawn which is surrounded by mature trees and find the best way of removing them is to lift the blade on my rotary mower and to collect them in the grass-box. This has the added benefit of making the leaves quicker to rot down as they are chopped-up by the mower.

Your lawn will benefit from aeration, either by hand using a fork or a hollow-tined aerator, or by means of a mechanical spiker if you have a larger lawn. Aeration will relieve compaction, improve drainage and allow more air into the root system, which will give you a healthier lawn.

If you find worm casts on your lawn, you should leave them to dry and then sweep them away. Worms have a beneficial effect on the soil structure and also improve its nutrient content.

Remember not to walk on your lawn if it is covered in frost as this can damage the grass.

The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence - follow the above guidance and make your neighbours jealous.

 







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