Autumn lawn care
By Ceri Thomas
Article 3 of 4
Getting your lawn in shape after a busy summer of heavy usage is well worth the effort
1. Kill moss
If moss is a problem, apply a moss killer. Wait until the moss has blackened before you move to step two. This may take several days. To help avoid moss returning in the future, remove sources of shade and relieve compaction in the turf.
2. Mow the grass
Mow the lawn a little lower than your normal height of cut, as this will make the rest of the steps easier. Find out which are our Best Buy lawn mowers.
3. Rake or scarify
Rake the lawn to remove moss, thatch and other debris, such as twigs and leaves, using a spring-tine rake. This process will open up the sward and make space for the new grass plants to grow with less competition.
Scarifying is more aggressive approach that uses a mechanical device with a reel of vertical blades, which cut into the turf and remove unwanted plant material.
'Oversowing' is sowing grass seeds onto existing turf to help thicken it up and prevent weeds filling the gaps.
Apply the lawn seed at the same rate recommended by the manufacturer for sowing a new lawn; typically 25-50g per sq m.
Top-dressing helps to improve soil quality. Buy it from a garden centre, or make it yourself. Mix three parts sharp sand with one part of bought compost. However, the relative amounts of sand and bought compost can be adjusted as appropriate. On heavy soils, I'd recommend a higher sand content, and on free-draining sandy soils more compost can be used in the mix.
Whatever mix you use, it should be applied at 2kg per sq m and worked into the turf with a brush. Don't mow the grass for two or three weeks afterwards.
6. Water if needed
Ensure that the lawn is kept moist as the new seeds germinated and establish, but don't saturate the turf. Rainfall usually carries out this task, but you may need to use a sprinkler in the event of a dry Indian summer.
7. Mow the lawn again
After two to three weeks, the new seeds should be established and you can mow the lawn. Ensure that the surface is dry for the first cut after renovations, so that the top-dressing doesn't get picked up on the mower's roller or wheels. Read how to cut the perfect lawn.
8. Feed if needed
If you didn't use a moss killer that contained fertiliser, then an autumn feed should be applied to the lawn now, to strengthen the turf before winter.
Autumn and winter fertilisers are low in nitrogen to prevent rapid leaf growth and keep the grass 'ticking over'. These fertilisers contain potassium and a small amount of phosphorous to encourage root growth and general plant health.