Preparing your lawn for the coming winter is one of the most important tasks in the lawn care calendar. Undertake your autumn lawn care programme 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, and not dry.
Autumn Lawn Care Jobs
The tasks undertaken at this time of year depend on the condition of your lawn but often include most of the processes involved in the complete repair and renovation of your lawn – just to a less degree. These can include:
- Lawn scarification
- Lawn aeration
- Moss control
- Top dressing
- Feeding the lawn
Some of these tasks are essential annually, it will be sufficient to carry out others on a biannual basis.
If there are signs of moss on 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.
Whichever product you use, wait for the moss to die (usually in about 10 – 14 days) before removing it by scarification.
Start your the mechanical treatments autumn lawn care programme by lawn scarification. Scarification should take place 2 weeks after any moss control treatment to remove the dead moss from the lawn. Over a period of time, organic matter (thatch) accumulates in the lawn. The health of your lawn will be adversely affected if it is not removed regularly. Scarification is the task used to control the build-up and remove thatch from the lawn.
You can purchase powered scarifiers or lawn rakes for this task or a simple springbok 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.
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. Alternatively ask your local Lawn Care company to undertake the task.
Over-seeding The Lawn
By scarifiying and aerated your lawn, you will leave grooves and holes in the surface of the soil. This is the ideal seed-bed for grass seed and presents the perfect preparation for over-seeding. Apply grass seed at a rate of at least 25g/m2. Choose grass seed that is appropriate for your lawn’s environment and the use you intend for it. See our post: Grass Species Used In British Lawns
Top-dressing The Lawn
Lawn top dressing is the task of applying a layer of sand/soil/peat mix to a lawn. It has many benefits to the health of the lawn and is particularly beneficial when applied after the three previous treatments. To make it easy to work the top-dressing down the aeration holes and into the sward, top-dress your lawn on a nice dry day.
Choose a mixture suitable for the soil structure of your lawn. For more information on this topic please visit our topdressing page with lots of information and advice.
Spread the dressing evenly on the lawn, leave it to dry, then rub into the lawn using a suitable tool such as a drag mat, true lute or the back of a landscape rake.
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 springtime. 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 you apply too much nitrogen during the autumn it can cause major problems with disease particularly Fusarium patch disease. As always follow the manufacturer’s 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 and moss problems.
- Occasionally brush the lawn. By light brushing, you keep the surface free of any debris such as leaves, twigs and worm casts. You will create a mess if you try to remove worm casts when they are wet. Wait until they dry to avoid them smearing across your lawn which creates more problems.
- Remove heavy dews from the lawn. Fusarium patch disease can be caused by leaving moisture on the lawn. Remove dew my brushing or by dragging a garden hose across the surface.
The above treatments are labour intensive and the equipment expensive to hire or purchase. The alternative is to hire a lawn care company such as Blue Iris Lawn Care to undertake the bulk of the labour intensive work with their specialist equipment