Lawn Care During the Autumn Period
So here we are in September and there are things to do for our Lawn to prepare for the coming Winter.
1. Rake Up Autumn Leaves.
Don't leave Autumn leaves on the lawn as they can lead to bare patches. Rake off into a bag. Removing leaves is best done when the Lawn is dry, so get this done in early Autumn, before the weather turns wet. Don’t leave this job too late. The leaves can then be used for composting, along with any grass cuttings.
Scarifying removes the build up of dead organic matter or thatch, which can smother the soil and new growth. This should only be necessary where the soil is compacted or very acidic. Look after your Worms which remove dead organic matter naturally.
The main benefit to scarifying is that it helps to cut back the stems and creeping roots of the grass encouraging root growth and a thicker turf.
Scarification is a job for late Autumn, when the frequency of mowing is less. Use a spring tined rake. New seeded lawns should not be scarified or raked for about 2 years. Scarification is not a job for spring. Always be careful that you don’t tear up the grass and never rake from disease or moss infested areas onto healthy lawn areas.
Aerating is done to counteract compaction. Compaction prevents the roots and soil micro-organisms from breathing. Aerating can be a major task, so you need to concentrate your effort first where most attention is needed. Free draining sandy soils may never need aerating. Work on the trouble spots you’ve identified. Hopefully you’ll be able to move to another area next year. If the whole lawn needs aerating then you might work on a different area each year.
Aerating is achieved by sticking a fork into the surface to about 3 inches deep or more and in rows 6 inches apart. Gently move the fork back and forth before pulling out vertically. You will achieve a more thorough job by using a hollow tine fork. This withdraws soil cores.
Pricking can also be useful before scattering fertilizer but it only penetrates half an inch. By contrast to aerating, manual pricking machines make this a relatively quick and easy job.
4. Top Dressing
Top dress after aerating which will improve the consistency of the lawn soil. Fill in any hollows in the Lawn with a mix of 4 parts loam, 2 parts sand and 1 part leaf mould. Increase the proportion of sand or grit and reduce loam content for heavy clay soils. Increase the leaf mould and reduce the sand for sandy soils.
Lay the mix down along a line 1 or 2 metres long, then spread with a rake or brush. Aim for about 1.6 Kg per square metre.
Lawn Sand is a traditional lawn fertilizer/weed killer material composed of iron sulphate and ammonium sulphate. If you wish to make a fine lawn from a large area of weedy grass then lawn sand is a far better option than hormone weed killers and is more organic.
If you’re using a traditional mix of lawn sand, with no nasty herbicide or hormone additives, it is reasonably safe to use. It kills all broad leaved weeds and moss. However, a considerable problem arises because lawn sand kills clovers and acidifies the ground.
The lawn sand is spread during lawn-moist conditions after which the grass is left un-trampled for a couple of days then well-watered. The iron and ammonium both help to green-up the lawn after an initial blackening.
When soil ph is below 5 consider spreading ground limestone or dolomite on the lawn in Winter. Obviously liming has a counteractive effect on any ph reduction from lawn sand. But don’t use lime for this purpose, indeed avoid using it within a month or two of lawn sand.