Autumn lawn care maintenance

Autumn lawn care

Preparing your lawn for the coming winter is one of the most important tasks in the lawn care calendar. The autumn lawn care program should be undertaken during the late summer or early autumn when there is still enough growth left for a complete recovery.

Get the autumn lawn care program right and it will put your lawn in great shape for the following spring where most lawns are suffering problems. For the best results try and carry out these tasks when the soil is moist, not wet, not dry

Autumn lawn care jobs can include:

  • Lawn scarification
  • Lawn aeration
  • Moss control
  • Over seeding
  • Top dressing
  • Feeding the lawn

Some of these tasks are essential, others may be skipped if they are not necessary.

Moss control

If there are signs of moss in the lawn during the late summer, it will need treating to kill it, followed by removal. This would be the first job in any autumn lawn care program.

There are many products on the market available for moss control. Some are granular and others are liquid formulation. However be aware as some moss killers may contain nitrogen. It is not wise to apply too much nitrogen at this time of the year as it can lead to disease problems in the lawn.

Which ever product you use wait for the moss to die (usually in about 10 - 14 days) before removing it by scarification.

Lawn scarification

Lawn scarification is one of, if not the first task to be carried out during the autumn lawn care program. If moss control has taken place scarification would be used about 2 weeks afterwards to remove the moss from the lawn.

Over a period of time organic matter (thatch) accumulates in the lawn. If this is allowed to continue without any kind removal program it can have an adverse effect on the health of the lawn. Scarification is the task used to control the build up and remove thatch from the lawn.

Powered scarifiers or lawn rakes can be purchased for this task or a simple spring bok rake or scarifying rake would suffice if the area was very small.

Remove all of the debris (thatch & moss) and then give the lawn a cut prior to the next task.

Once this task has been completed move on to lawn aeration.

Lawn aeration

Over a period of time lawns that suffer heavy use and wear are prone to compaction, if this condition is not remedied the lawn will suffer. Compaction in remedied by lawn aeration, this can either be by hollow tining or spiking/slitting.

Both are effective ways of relieving compaction, however if your lawn would benefit from improving the soil structure or thatch removal hollow tining would be the preferred method.

Again powered machines are available for this task, but as they are very expensive to purchase, hiring would be more cost effective. Hand tools are also available for aeration, although they are more time consuming they should be considered as this is in most instances a once a year task.

The next job is to over seed the lawn if necessary.

Over seeding the lawn

Once the scarification and aeration has been completed the lawn surface will be left with groves and holes, this creates the ideal seed bed, perfect for over seeding. Seed should be applied at a rate of 25g/m2.

You are now ready to top dress the lawn.

Top dressing the lawn

We are nearing the end of the autumn lawn care program now as we prepare to top dress the lawn. Lawn top dressing is best done on a nice dry day where it is easy to work the top dressing down the aeration holes and into the sward.

Choose a mixture suitable for the soil structure of your lawn. For more information on this topic please visit our top dressing page with lots of information and advice.

The dressing should be spread evenly on the lawn, left to dry, then rubbed into the lawn using a suitable tool such as a drag mat, true lute or the back of a landscaper rake.

Once this is complete apply an autumn/winter lawn feed.

Feeding (Fertilising) the lawn

Applying an autumn - winter fertiliser or lawn feed will help maintain the health of the lawn during the winter and give it a head start during the spring time.

Choose a fertiliser with a high phosphate (P) and potash (K) content. The phosphate will help encourage a healthy root system, while the potash will harden the plant up and help with disease resistance.

Never apply a high percentage of nitrogen at this time of the year. If too much nitrogen is applied during the autumn it can cause major problems with disease particularly fusarium patch disease.

As always follow the manufacturers guidelines for the best results when applying these products.

Additional jobs for the lawn during winter

Once the above tasks are complete that concludes the major tasks in the autumn lawn care program. However there are some more tips that will help your lawn during the winter, these include:

  • Raise the height of cut on the mower: Keeping the lawn a little longer will help fight against any disease, wormcast & moss problems.

  • Occasionally brush the lawn: Light brushing is done to keep the surface of clean an free of any debris such as leaves, twigs and wormcasts. Try to do this task when the surface is dry as worm-casts smear when the soil is wet which creates more problems.
  • Remove heavy dews from the lawn: During periods of heavy dew, fusarium patch disease may become a problem, therefore by removing them will help discourage this disease.

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