18/08/2014

Autumn lawn care

Autumn officially starts 1st September and over the summer you have probably spent many enjoyable hours in your garden. With this your lawn has probably undergone a barrage of punishment from the children playing in the garden, the pets running around and the fun family barbeques. Because of this, your lawn is probably by now crying out for some TLC – but you must be quick. You only have a short window to help your lawn before it stops growing and the winter sets in.

Reduced mowing
 
As autumn comes if you hadn’t already you will need to begin reducing the frequency in which you use your lawnmower and cut the grass. During the autumn allow your grass to grow slightly longer than normal. This will help protect it from moss and other pests during the winter. 

Compaction
 
Compacted soil is a regularly occurring problem. In areas of the lawn that get used frequently like walkways and children’s play areas, the soil is pressed tighter together, limiting the room for essential water and oxygen to circulate. 

You may also find that these highly used areas of the lawn have become bare as the grass has been worn away. If you want to replace this grass in time for next year, you will first need to solve your compaction problem and then lay some grass seed this autumn when the conditions are right for growing. 

The key in rejuvenating compacted soil is aeration. By making small holes in the soil it allows water and oxygen to reach the grass roots. This is essential if you want grass to grow. To do this you could repeatedly plunge a garden fork into the affected area, or use a mechanical garden corer. A corer will remove small plugs of soil from the ground. Both methods simply create space for the lawn to spread and de-compact. An alternative is to add worms to your garden. Worms will burrow into the compacted soil in the same way in which a garden fork or aerator would. 

Once the soil is de-compacted you can then think about sowing some grass seed on the lawn. If you do want to lay some grass seed, you need to think about doing it in the early autumn. Because grass requires a minimum of 6 Celsius to grow, plenty of sunlight and plenty of water, if you wait until too long the winter will be here with its cold days and reduced sunlight hours limiting healthy grass growth. 

De-thatching and removing moss 

De-thatching is another common autumn lawn care strategy that you should undertake. Thatch is caused by a build-up of dead grass and organic material that sits on top of new grass. This dead layer of grass prevents moisture and sunlight from reaching the new grass limiting it growth. 

August and early September are one of the last times in the year when the weather conditions are suitable to allow you to de-thatch your lawn. 

De-thatching or scarification as it is commonly called can be done in small gardens using a handheld garden rake. The best garden rakes for de-thatching are fan, spring tined rakes like those offered by GARDENA. This can be quite hard work especially if your lawn has a severe thatch problem. An alternative solution is an electric lawn rake or lawn raker as it is sometimes called like the Flymo LawnRake Compact. Electric lawn rakes remove thatch and moss from your lawn quickly and easily and remove all the physical hard work. 

Before scarifying your lawn and removing moss you should always lay moss killer a week or two prior to prevent spreading it across your lawn. 

Over-seeding

While scarification is an essential autumn lawn care strategy in removing moss, it is only a short term fix. Ideally you want to prevent moss from growing in the first place. This is where over-seeding comes into its own. 

Over-seeding is a process in which you add extra grass seed across your lawn. By adding grass seed and encouraging extra grass to grow in your lawn, it reduces the space between each grass blade. 

This reduced space between the grass blades prevents moss and other plants like weeds from growing, creating not only a brilliant defence, but a thicker greener, nicer looking lawn. You should also seed and repair any bald patches on your lawn to prevent moss and other pests from rearing their ugly heads. 

Feeding the lawn 

After its constant use in the summer, the grass may need a little extra nourishment during the autumn to keep it looking great throughout the winter. Regular cutting and removal of grass clipping throughout the summer may have removed necessary nitrogen from the lawn. Nitrogen is an essential building block for grass growth, therefore adding fertiliser to your lawn will help replenish this. 

By using a fertiliser that contains moss killer it will also remove any moss missed during scarification, and help prevent it from growing back. Using a fertiliser which is slow releasing is ideal for looking after your lawn throughout autumn and the winter. Always follow the instructions on the packet before applying fertiliser to your lawn. 

Remove fallen leaves 

Autumn is the time in which leaves begin to fall from trees. Fallen leaves block out the sunlight from reaching the grass, preventing them from photosynthesising. When leaves are falling from the trees in the autumn, ensure that you remove them from the lawn. This can be done using a garden rake, or a garden vacuum like the Flymo GardenVac. Fallen leaves are a great for your garden can be turned into leaf mulch and are ideal organic material for your compost bin. 

Where to buy 

Lawn rakes and garden vacuums/leaf blowers are readily available in most good retailers and garden centres. You can also purchase the Flymo LawnRake Compact and Flymo GardenVac online on the Official Flymo Webshop by visiting www.shop.flymo.co.uk

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