David Overend on how to prepare your pride and joy for the arrival of autumn.
Gardening is a repetitive occupation, and as August hurtles on towards September and autumn prepares to enter the fray, it’s time to contemplate the tasks contemplated just 12 months ago. In a few more days we should expect a fall in temperature and more rainfall, which shouldn’t seem all that much different from what’s just gone this summer.
That is unless you have a lawn, because somehow grass (and all plants) know when it’s time to slow down in preparation for winter hibernation.
The first lawn job is to adjust the cutting height of the mower blades so the grass is left a little longer at each cut.
And before you mow next it’s a good idea to rake or scarify the whole lawn to pull out any dead material, called “thatch”, and lift up any grass runners so they can be trimmed by the mower.
A spring-tine rake is the ideal tool for the job and not only does it work wonders on the grass, it can benefit the gardener too – plenty of healthy exercise.
After that mowing, you are clear to aerate the surface, allowing air into the top few inches of soil. On heavy clay soils, professional groundsmen recommend that you use a hollow-tine fork that removes cores of soil rather than simply driving holes into the surface with an ordinary garden fork.
If you remove these cores and fill the holes with something like EverGreen Enriched Lawn Soil or even a washed river sand, you’ll be doing a marvellous job on improving drainage while helping water get to the grass roots.
Following this autumn renovation, think about treating your lawn with a special food to encourage a stronger root system and harden off growth so the grass is tougher and can withstand more extreme conditions. Look on it as feeding a child a plate of porridge before he or she goes to school.
A proprietary fertiliser will work wonders to help the grass withstand the winter. Use one that also contains a moss killer that will control the first infestations of weeds that spread so easily in autumn.
For smaller lawns, it can be applied through its own hand-held spreader, or, for larger areas, large bags can be applied evenly and quickly through a spreader. Some may call it a boy toy, but if it does the job, don’t knock it.