There are many tasks to be done at this time of year that carry with them an underlying sense of conclusion or putting your garden to rest. Cutting back shrubs, raking and sweeping fallen leaves, and wrapping your more tender perennials in fleece to protect from frost, are all jobs we do to prepare our gardens for the oncoming winter.
Your lawn can also do with some care and attention at this time of year and while the tasks below can be carried out in either autumn or spring, many people find the physical exertion these tasks require actually lend themselves nicely to this season. The ground is softer than in summer and there is a contemplative aspect to the repetitive nature the tasks have, that compliments the crisp and still days that autumn can bring.
Possibly not the most obvious of jobs to involve children in but there are certainly elements that will appeal to younger minds.
Why do it? Over time your lawn will begin to build up unwanted reserves of dead grass and moss. As this happens, it prevents water and nutrients getting to the healthy roots and newer shoots growing around it. Scarifying is a way of removing dead and undesirable growth, otherwise known as ‘thatch’. It also breaks up grass stolons to promote new growth.
How to do it? Raking. One of the reasons this task is best done in autumn is that if done in spring hard raking may cause damage to newer grass growth and shoots. You should rake your lawn space thoroughly but avoid causing damage to the soil in the process. Once you have created your thatch piles, you can dispose of them in the compost to benefit your garden in the future.
Tools of the trade
Why do it? Aerating is a way of making sure that air and water can get to the roots of your grass. It is best done on areas that are compacted, worn or have a high clay ratio within the soil. Lawns benefit being aerated every 2-3 years. The process is also known as ‘spiking’.
How to do it? Simply make holes about 20cm apart and this will make sure your lawn is less likely to get waterlogged in rainy weather and that the grass roots can survive through drought.
Tools of the trade
There are also some additional tools which can help take some of the back work out of aerating and make it easier to carry out:
Once you have aerated your lawn, you can improve drainage and feed it by raking in a top dressing.
Bags of top dressing are available from most garden centres and consist of loam, sand and organic matter or compost that nourishes the lawn area and grass growing on it.
If you used a hollow tine aerator, firstly remove the soil plugs that are on your lawn. Then put 2kg of top dressing per square metre onto your lawn and, using a plastic leaf rake, rake into the holes provided. Any excess top dressing can be brushed into flowerbeds or placed on your compost.
One last piece of advice is not to leave it too late as these tasks are a lot harder to carry out once the frost comes around.