So! Autumn is here. You have mown the lawn for the last time this year, maybe even cleaned up and oiled the mower - now stored in the shed - and lawn care is done for the next few months. Right? No! WRONG! We are now into the realms of autumn lawn care!
If you really care about your grass - and let's face it, that is why you are reading this article, then the next few weeks of autumn will be even more busy and time consuming than the last few months of summer - when all you had to do (did) was mow the it.
Autumn is the time to do the things that really matter if you want that superb green lawn that will be the envy of neighbours next year.
The great thing is, that unlike mowing - these care things only have to be done once. OK maybe twice!
Only if your lawn has looked a bit yellow and generally sickly over the past few months, should you bother about feeding it at this time of year. If you do, then it MUST be an autumn lawn feed. The feed you used in spring and summer is not suitable, for it will have too great a Nitrogen content.
This will lead to over-lush growth, which is not desirable at this time of year. It will weaken the grass and leave it prone to all sorts of turf diseases. You can actually care for your lawn too much at this time!
Autumn lawn care jobs include
Keeping worm casts under control - Easy to do without killing the worms!
Moss-kill - This is a good time to be doing this - and thinking about positive action to prevent moss happening in the first place
Scarifying - A great way to keep fit - but not if you have a weak back - and this is the time of year to do it.
Aerating the Lawn - Lawn aeration goes a long way to providing you with a good strong healthy lawn.
Over-seeding - Bare patches are easily dealt with, and this can be achieved when you carry out top-dressing as well
General repairs - including the edging of the lawn.
Creating a bit more lawn - maybe.
That's about all I can think of at the moment. Think positive, the maintenance tasks mentioned above are going to save you a small fortune in Gym fees! And just think how motivating it is to know that your lawn will be so much better next year than this after this care and maintenance. A downside is, that neighbours and friends will ask for your assistance next autumn when they need to care for their lawns, for you will be THE lawn expert of the neighbourhood!
Worms - and their worm casts - on the lawn, are a pest - especially in autumn. They are not even the friendly worms that we welcome in other parts of the garden and are an essential part of the autumn care and maintenance programme. The type of worms that make worm casts in the grass, are not good aerators of soil, and they do NOT help drainage! There are no chemicals that are allowed for killing them - so just keep brushing off the worm casts as they appear. (So many writers and gardening broadcasters extol the virtue of using the worm casts as soil for sowing seeds. Can you imagine how many worm casts would need to be 'collected' to fill a seed tray with what is basically mud! Forget it. For when this cast soil is dry it will set like rock, and when it is moist it will resemble porridge - without the oats!)
Get round to analyzing your lawn this autumn.
Does your lawn have moss, is there a build-up of thatch, just a bit bare, or perhaps just a bit thin in places? Whatever, we are going to go through the whole Autumn Lawn care maintenance programme.
First things first. If there is moss, then apply a moss-killer to kill the moss that is there. However, it will return unless you also find out the basic cause of the moss!
Two weeks after you have used the moss-kill, the lawn will be ready to scarify. This is an important aspect of autumn lawn care. You can do this with a rake and back power (will-power will also be a great asset for this operation. If you have any sizeable lawn - with enough room to turn a lawn mower for instance - then best to hire a mechanised or electric scarifyer/rake. One of the main reasons for scarifying is to get rid of the moss you have just killed, and also to rid yourself (your lawn) of thatch. (Thatch is the build up of dead grass lying below the green grass that you see, and the soil. It can be as much as an inch thick in some lawns. It needs to be removed.)
Once the scarifying has been carried out, then aeration follows on. This is an important part of autumn lawn care, best carried out whilst the soil is damp for this will make the task less back-breaking! It will almost certainly need doing, for even the innocent activity of mowing your lawn will lead to a certain amount of compaction of the lawn/soil surface. Add in the fact that most lawns are used by children - or animals - and are generally the main means of getting from one part of the garden to the other, and you will see that a certain degree of compaction is inevitable.
Aeration can be carried out by using a garden fork and stout soles on your boots! If the lawn is large enough, then hire a mechanical spiking/aeration machine. Alternatively, purchase a hollow-tine fork. (A mechanical spiking machine is by far the best option - other then getting someone in to do the job for you. However, that would not be so satisfying would it?)
The aeration process will leave you with a lawn full of holes, which will then need to be filled in! Use a mixture of soil, sand and peat, that will keep these new 'pores' free draining, helping future rain to get down to the roots and also the all-important air down into the soil. It will also make the lawn less prone to future compaction. You can only do this care operation in the autumn if the weather permits - otherwise carry out the top dressing in spring.
If this is all carried out before the onset of the 'nasty' part of autumn, then seeding of thin patches can also take place. (Once we are into winter proper, then forget any ideas of seeding.)
So, all the autumn lawn care jobs having been done, you can sit back and
enjoy what is left of the autumn. Oh! Did I mention that this is a good time
of year to carry out