Your lawn in autumn – repair, prepare & maintain
Repair the damage
The summer delivers all kinds of punishment to your lawn – children, animals, drought (or flood!), scalping from the mower and general wear and tear. So start in early autumn to repair any obvious signs of damage by re-seeding any bare patches. Simply prepare the surface by pricking the bare area with a fork and rake it lightly to form a fine seed bed no deeper than an inch. Then spread a good quality grass seed over the prepared surface, cover with a thin layer of soil, pat down and water well. Continue to water regularly until you see the seed germinate.
There are many different grass seed mixes available, and it’s important that you choose the blend that suits your garden best. For example, if you have pets and children who love playing in the garden, there’s no point in choosing a mix designed to give you a fine, bowling green finish!
To find out more about the different grass seed mixes and choose the one that best suits you, please click here
Prepare for next year
Feed before winter
In winter the grass is almost dormant and a good root structure is critical. Autumn lawn feed provides the essential ingredients to strengthen the roots, help the grass over-winter and get off to a good start next year.
If there’s moss already in your lawn it will grow over winter, so remove it before the grass stops growing and save extra work in spring! Use a mosskiller or autumn lawn care product and rake it out vigorously. Now, this may leave your lawn a little bare, but providing you’ve removed the moss before the grass stops growing there’s still time to over-seed to thicken the grass. In addition, because the grass is now much thicker, it is very difficult for the moss to grow back again. So you have a grass lawn, the moss is gone and it can’t easily return – it’s a win-win-win!!
Take out the thatch
If you use a hover mower or don’t lift the clippings when you mow, you may find a layer of thatch forming in the lawn. The thatch hinders drainage and prevents air circulating the grass, both of which compromise healthy growth and increase the incidence of disease. You will improve the health of your lawn considerably by raking the thatch out with a rake. And if your lawn is large, don’t panic, most good hire shops will be able to hire out a mechanical rake to take the strain!
Raking will also help remove moss (see above)
One of the biggest problems facing lawns is compaction. If you have a part of the lawn that is regularly walked on, you’ll quickly see signs that the grass is struggling compared to other parts of your lawn.
Compaction is a particular problem coming into winter because rain won’t drain well on compacted soil, which leads to puddling and flooding and eventually to further damage to the lawn.
An easy way to relieve compaction in the lawn is to go over it with a garden fork, pushing the tines into the ground a few inches to allow water and air to penetrate the soil. This, together with the natural movement from earthworms and the growing grass roots, will help alleviate the hard-packed soil.
For most domestic lawns, this treatment is sufficient to alleviate the compaction. However, if your lawn is particularly compacted, or has been laid on exceptionally heavy soil, you may need use a hollow-tine machine that takes out small cores of soil. For example, you’ll see this type of work taking place on bowling greens and golf greens where there has been a lot of traffic over the summer. Then, depending on the individual circumstances, the core-holes will either be left open over winter or may be loosely filled with sand, a sand/lawn dressing mix or lawn dressing only.
The leaves which fall and accumulate on the lawn in autumn will have many fungal spores on their surface, so apart from raking the leaves up to keep the garden tidy, it’s hugely important for the health of the lawn.
And as can be seen from our photo – it’s a great job to get the family involved in!