22 September was the autumnal equinox and the official start of autumn, so you should now be thinking about lawn care as we move towards the winter months.
Your first lawn care task is to make some changes to your mowing method. I suggest you raise the height of cut – by about 1cm above your summer mowing height. This will give you an ultimate mowing height of 3cm. Or if you’re old school, 1¼ inches. The reason for this is to allow for the natural slowing of grass growth. As well as this, I suggest you mow just once a week, or at least every ten days.
Grass keeps growing into winter
With the Irish climate becoming milder by the year, you’ll find that grass continues to grow, nearly up to Christmas, but at a slower rate, of course. So gone now are the days when once September came around, you parked your lawnmower in the shed until the following spring. It really is better for the health of your lawn if you can keep it trimmed through the cooler months.
If your lawn suffers from slow growth, if it’s pale in colour or has received a lot of wear and tear over the summer, you should consider applying an autumn fertiliser to help it develop stronger roots and generally increase its hardiness.
Lawn care: could your lawn do with a little pampering?
If you fee your lawn is not all it should be that it would benefit from some of this autumnal pampering, then by all means apply the fertiliser. But do ensure that this has been specially formulated for autumn application. An autumn lawn feed contains phosphates and potash and also has low levels of nitrogen. A fertiliser with too much nitrogen would cause forced growth.
If you have areas of your lawn that are sparsely populated, you need to attend to this now, to get them ship-shape for next season. Start by driving the prongs of a garden fork to approx. 15cm into the compacted turf, at various points throughout the affected area. This is a form of aeration which, on compacted soils, allows more air to reach the grass plants’ roots.
To thicken up your grass sward in these high traffic areas, you need to introduce fresh seed. So in order to create a seedbed, mix some lawn seed with some peat and broadcast the mixture over the area to about 20mm depth. Tamp down lightly with the flat of the rake to ensure firm seed-soil contact or for large areas, use a light garden roller. Try to avoid mowing the reseeded area until next season, as most lawnmowers tend to unsettle the seed due to their vacuum action.
Dealing with the moss problem
Is moss a problem? Moss Killer mixed with your autumn feed will kill any moss present and it will also help to reduce the amount of moss that forms over the winter months. Moss Killer is high in iron and it will also strengthen up the blades of grass and give a good green colour heading into winter.
As autumn progresses and leaves begin to fall, make sure that you use any dry days to rake/gather the leaves off the lawn (at least every 10-14 days). If layers of leaves are left sitting on the lawn, the grass plant will smother underneath due to lack of oxygen and light getting to it. If this happens, the grass will become weaker and then thin itself out, resulting in bare patches.
So there it is, your autumn lawn care guide. Follow these instructions and you can be confident that your lawn will stay in good health throughout the winter. Click to visit The Lawman where you will find some excellent tips, or if you’d like any more information from me, email or call us at any time during office hours.