With the autumn leaves starting to fall and temperatures turning colder we are now approaching the time for the final lawn mowing of the year.
There are many things we can do to help our lawns stay in good condition throughout the dark cold winter months so we have put together 10 top tips on how to put your lawn to bed for the forthcoming winter.
Carry out the final mowing of the year
There is not really a definitive time for the last lawn mowing of the year as grass will carry on growing until temperatures cool down. Our advice is to keep mowing until the grass growth slows right down or stops as grass which is left uncut and too long throughout the winter months may cause the condition of the lawn to deteriorate.
Rake up leaves
This is one of the most important autumn jobs you can do for your lawn during the autumn. A covering of leaves will starve the lawn of light and can cause significant damage in a very short space of time. We recommend clearing leaves from your lawn at least twice per week.
Over-seeding bare patches
October is the very last chance to successfully over-seed any bare patches as cooler conditions will significantly reduce the rate of germination. Remember, when over-seeding, good soil contact with the grass seed is essential.Therefore always use a rake to disturb the surface of the area and make lots of little shallow holes with a garden fork to maximize seed to soil contact. Ideally apply sand and loam top dressing to protect the seed and increase germination.
Late autumn is often a time when a lawn fungus called Fusarium may occur. More often found in fine lawns or sports turf fusarium can cause dead patches and requires quick intervention with fungicide.
It’s still not too late to aerate your lawn providing conditions are not too wet or frosty. Lawn aeration can be carried out on very small lawns simply by making lots of deep holes with a garden fork but for most lawns a professional hollowtine or spiked aeration machine is required. We don’t recommend carrying out lawn aeration during mid winter as it is likely to do more harm than good.
Apply autumn fertiliser
September through to early December is the correct time to apply autumn fertiliser. It is important that the lawn fertiliser is specifically for autumn use which means it should contain a low percentage of nitrogen (N) and a higher percentage of Potassium (K). Autumn fertiliser is perfect for promoting root growth throughout the winter months.
Apply moss treatment
We are already starting to see moss appear in the shady areas of our lawns. October through to December is the best time to carry out the first moss treatment of the winter with a second application being carried out January through to March. Sulphate of Iron is the preferred product to control moss, but it is important to remember that moss can only really be controlled rather than killed. Any dead/weakened moss can be raked out during the spring.
Check for signs of leather jacket infestation
We noticed a lot of Crane Fly (Daddy Long Legs) on the wing during September which could be a sure sign of Leather Jacket problems as we head out of the winter and into the spring. As we go though the winter it is advisable to keep and eye out for any areas of the lawn which are starting to go thin or loose colour. Another indication of Leather jacket infestation is when the lawn starts to go very bare around the edges and in shady areas. See our Leather Jackets page.
Prune back trees and shrubs
It is no secret that lawns do not grow well in shade. If you have an area of your lawns that is struggling due to shade, now is the best time to prune back trees and bushes whilst they are in a dormant state. It is amazing how much better your lawn will do next year if more light is let into the garden.
Sharpen and service the mower
The best time to service your lawn mower is immediately after the last cut of the season. By doing this you will miss the mad rush next spring when everyone else has left it to the last moment to get the poor old mower serviced. Also it is not good to put the mower away for the winter if it is wet and caked in grass clippings as it will cause it to rust and deteriorate.
Always remember to ask your garden machinery shop to sharpen the blade as it is very important for the health of your lawn to keep your blade sharp when mowing. We often ask our customers to keep a spare sharp blade handy so it can also be changed mid season.
Local reputable companies for lawn mower servicing include C & O Tractors (Salisbury) www.candotractors, Salisbury Garden Machinery www.salisburygardenmachinery.co.uk, Winchester Garden Machinery www.wgmltd.co.uk and Rochford Garden Machinery www.rochfords.co.uk.