After a long summer of getting some great use out of your garden lawn, it is time to start preparing your lawn for winter with some autumn lawn care.
Autumn is the perfect time of year to start again with your lawn treatment and go right back to the bare bones similar to how they treat a Wimbledon tennis court. This is because the soil temperature is still warm enough to stimulate grass growth. Here are some tips how to maintain your lawn in autumn.
The treatments that your autumn lawn requires depends greatly on the state it is in after the wear and tear it has undergone in the summer months. If you have children or pets then it is highly likely that there will be a great deal of treatment required.
Scarifying is the process of raking the lawn to reduce the layers of thatch in the lawn. Thatch is a collection of debris, dead grass and old moss that can prevent water and fertiliser from penetrating the roots of the grass. Autumn is a great time to scarify as you can rake a little deeper than if you were to do it in spring when you would have to be more delicate. For more information read our guide to scarifying your lawn.
During the summer your lawn edges may have gotten a little bit overgrown, which makes autumn the perfect time of year to trim back your garden edges. For edges in beds where the soil is neatly trimmed but the grass has grown over horizontally, use lawn scissors to cut back the grass. Don’t forget to pick up the cuttings from the bed. For edges that are not straight use a plank of wood like a giant ruler with a spade and trim along for a perfect straight edge. Again don’t forget to collect the trimmings.
If you have children and pets playing on the lawn during the summer, or perhaps it is just an area that has been neglected in your garden. For areas that are particularly bumpy you should use a half moon edging iron (or a spade if you don’t have one) and shave the ground level. Once you have done this aerate the soil underneath and relay turf level to the rest of the lawn. Dips/ troughs in the garden should also follow this process until the whole lawn is level.
Aeration is a cornerstone to having a well maintained lawn. The process of aerating is essentially spiking the lawn to allow for more air (and nutrients including water) to get to the grass roots. Aeration will also help your lawn survive through more extreme conditions such as waterlogging or drought.
There are many different methods of aerating your lawn based on the size and soil type of your lawn. If you are unsure what the best way is for you then read our guide to lawn aeration.
Areas of the lawn that get heavy traffic in the summer will be very compacted and will need forking to break up the soil and improve the drainage when the rain starts to pour. Ensure that you push the fork all the way into the ground to get the proper aeration and drainage.
Once the lawn is flat and aerated it is the ideal time to put some top dressing down. Top dressing is a mixture of loam, sand and compost which helps strong root growth. At this time of year it is beneficial to mix in a sandy top dressing to absorb moisture and ensure it is rake in to the soil properly.
Image credit: Everlush
Once your lawn is treated and in pristine condition it is important to get some lawn feed down to ensure that the roots are still growing strong throughout the winter. You should use a different lawn fertiliser in autumn that you would use when you are preparing your garden in spring. Autumn lawn fertiliser is high in potash and phosphates which will better protect the grass from frost and icy conditions. High Nitrogen spring/summer feeds will encourage top growth, which is soft and easily damaged by frosts, which is not ideal for autumn lawn feeding.
There are a couple of things you can do to help the health of your lawn following your autumn lawn care. It is stating the obvious but try not to walk on the lawn, if you have areas of your garden that you need to get to in the winter then please think about this beforehand such as building a path or putting down stepping stones.
On the rare occasion in the British winter when the weather is dry, grab the rake and remove any fallen leaves on the lawn as they not only provide habitable shelter for garden pests, but they also suffocate the lawn which weakens the grass.