Autumn is all about recovering from summer, re-energising and preparing for winter. Here are our top tips for your lawn in autumn.
- FEED FEED FEED your lawn using the right formulation for the time of year
- Scarify to clear away any moss and dead vegetation and to improve air flow
- Make repairs using seed or turf
- Trim those edges
- Keep mowing but raise the blades of your mower
- Plan any mower maintenance
- Cut back trees and hedges that are casting shade on the lawn
- Keep sweeping up those autumn leaves
- Don’t forget to feed the lawn – I know we’ve already mentioned it but it really is important.
Feeding your lawn in autumn
There are two things to remember about autumn lawn feed
First of all, it’s vital for the long term health of your lawn. Please don’t assume that because growth slows down the plants don’t need food. That’s really not the case. The grass blades may appear dormant but they are still processing what little sunlight there is to support the plant. Beneath the ground, roots will still be growing and working hard to keep the plants healthy. Just as you and I need a balanced diet with plenty of vitamins to help our winter health, grass plants need to have the right nutrients available in the soil.
The second thing to remember about autumn lawn feed, is that it’s different to summer time. We’ve mentioned a balanced diet. In human terms, the balance of nutrients is varies according to lifestyle and life stage. A young athlete needs a different diet to a growing child or a middle aged blog writer. If the balance is wrong it can result in illness or poor performance.
In spring and summer, grass grows fast to take advantage of the warmth and sunshine and to try to reproduce itself. In winter, growth is much more subtle and the grass is doing what it can to survive with less sunshine and in colder, wetter soil. Autumn winter lawn feed is specially formulated to match the nutritional needs of the grass plants. So check the label before applying any feed to your lawn.
Scarify your lawn
If your lawn needs scarifying, it’s best to do it BEFORE you apply feed.
Scarifying is like a deep clean for your lawn. Use a spring tine rake or a powered scarifying machine to pull all of that moss, thatch and dead vegetation away from the base of your grass plants. Trust me, you’ll be amazed at how much debris can accumulate in a lawn.
The purpose of scarification is to allow rainwater to soak into the soil much faster and to let air flow around the plants. The result is a healthier environment for the grass where fungal diseases are less likely to thrive.
If you have a lot of moss in your lawn, it’s well worth applying a treatment AFTER scarification just to clear up any unwanted vegetation and subdue any re-growth.
Repairing your lawn with grass seed
Autumn is a great time to overseed or repair your lawn with grass seed.
If you have bare patches or thinning areas in your lawn, this article is for you
Trim the edges of your lawn
It’s not unusual for lawn edges to lose their crispness over the summer. That’s no problem. Now that the weather is cooler for working in and the ground is slightly softer, you can trim the edges of your lawn.
I favour using a half moon cutter with a turf laying board to help me get a straight edge. It doesn’t take long and it will make the whole garden look loved. Neat lawn edges can even draw the eye away from the autumn mayhem in herbaceous borders.
Mowing your lawn in autumn
Common sense dictates that if your lawn is still growing, it will still need mowing. You will find that you probably only need to cut your lawn every 10-14 days instead of twice a week. Simple guidelines for autumn mower include
- Raise the mower blades a little – slightly longer grass copes better with cooler conditions
- Keep the blades sharp – a clean cut to a blade of grass will heal quicker and prevent disease spores from infecting the “wound”
- Be vigilant – look out for the first signs of disease and treat them as soon as you see them
Autumn tips for shaded lawns
Most lawn grasses grow best in full sun, but most gardens have at least one shaded spot. Wherever possible reduce shade by keeping trees, hedges and shrubs neatly trimmed or pruned. Autumn and winter – or once the sap has stopped flowing – are best for pruning woody plants.
If you need help, contact a local BALI registered landscaper who will understand all of the health and safety issues involved with pruning and tree work.
Overseeding or repairing a shaded lawn? For best results choose a shade tolerant grass seed