Grass takes a real battering over summer, and if you have children or pets it will be even more downtrodden. Some serious maintenance is called for in autumn.
The aim is to provide the best conditions possible – balanced fertile soil with plenty of soil life – so that less time needs to be spent on problem control.
After our long, hot summer wait until there’s been enough rain to soak the ground and the grass is growing again before embarking on our six-step fitness plan (better to wait until October if it’s still dry).
- Mow as usual.
- Scarify – rake out moss, weeds and thatch with a lawn scarifier. If you didn’t do this in spring you may rake out large quantities of rubbish and the lawn will look patchy, but it will soon recover.
- Mow again, at right angles to the first mowing. This chops off the weeds raised by raking.
- Aerate the lawn by spiking to let in air, this improves drainage and alleviates compaction.
- Add a special low-nitrogen autumn formula to toughen the grass up ready for winter.
- Top dress. Not essential if you have good soil, but well worth doing if you garden on clay, chalk or sandy soils. Sprinkle the grass with a thin (5mm) layer of turf dressing or your own compost, topsoil and sand mixture, then work it in with a stiff garden broom so that most of it disappears.
If you have broken lawn edges, bald patches or bumps and hollows, September is a good time to deal with them. New lawns from seed can be sown from around the middle of the month, but delay laying turf until October or November (see article March 2018).