It’s a fact of life; lawns get a bit tired and bedraggled-looking sometimes. This can be due to an invasion of weeds or moss, over-enthusiastic kids and animals, a heavy winter or a particularly hot summer with lots of outdoor activities.
At the end of the summer, you may be looking at what seems to be scorched earth, with maybe a few pits and properly burnt areas where some coals jumped out of the barbecue. You might think that you’ll never get back to the rippling green expanse you had in the spring, but you’d be wrong.
Autumn is actually a great time to do some work on your lawn so that it’s ready to spring back into action after the winter. The ground is no longer baked dry but it’s not waterlogged or frozen either. It’s just right for digging over and re-seeding, especially if you head to this website for a seed kit. Once you’ve got your seeds, here’s your plan of action.
Rake over the lawn
Raking, or scarifying, the lawn pulls the tines of the rake through the grass, collecting and removing thatch and moss. Thatch is the dead and dying shoots and blades of grass that form a dense network around the bases of grass plants. This thatch keeps water away from the soil so it gets in the way of the healthy grass growing, which is why you remove it.
Aerate your lawn
Any walking or any other downward pressure on the lawn causes the soil to compact, especially on more clay-heavy soils where the particles are much finer and stickier. By aerating the soil, you get oxygen into it and improve drainage. You do this by pricking it over with a garden fork or specialized aerating tool.
Many people choose to add a lawn dressing to the ground after they’ve aerated their lawn. A dressing is a mixture of very fine soil and sand and it’s great for maintaining the condition of the soil and keeping it “open” for a while longer. It also improves drainage and is especially useful for clay-heavy soils as it breaks up the dense texture and makes it easier for roots to penetrate downwards.
You feed your lawn
Autumn is a great time to feed the lawn – summer growth can deplete the soil of its nutrients and it’s also important to strengthen the grass to help it to withstand the cold winter. You should use a fertilizer that’s high in potash for this purpose, as well as one that contains slow-release nitrogen to take the grass through the winter.
You should also keep mowing
You might think that mowing is off the agenda in autumn and winter, but it’s actually a good idea. If you use a rotary mower you’ll also be picking up any fallen leaves as you go along, which is killing two birds with one stone. Just aim to remove the very tops from the blades so that the grass doesn’t get too long; this means you don’t have to do a huge crop in spring, which can be counterproductive.