Summer is usually the most stressful time of year for your lawn, when it receives most use and, unfortunately most damage. Autumn, accordingly, is the perfect time to check for damage and treat any symptoms of wear and tear. In autumn, temperatures are still warm enough to stimulate growth, making this is the best time for your lawn to heal.
The primary aim of autumn lawn care, therefore, is to set things in order before the onset of winter. By winter, low temperatures and frost will prevent growth and slow absorption rates, making it difficult for your lawn to repair. It’s also simply not a pleasant time of year to be working the garden!
Repair summer damage and get your lawn in good shape in autumn, and you could be pleasantly surprised in spring. This period of winter chill should preserve your hard work, in time for another successful year.
As autumn draws in, shorter days and lower temperatures will slow grass growth, meaning you will have to mow less frequently. Furthermore, it is advisable to allow your grass to grow a little longer in autumn. This will encourage deeper root growth and retention of moisture. This is particularly important at the time of year when organic processes are slowed and nutrients are absorbed less quickly.
Keeping your grass at around 2 or 2.5 inches is advisable, and this will only require fortnightly mowing. In tandem with mowing, it is also worth flattening uneven areas in your lawn. Dips and troughs can result after heavy summer use and can be flattened out with an edging iron or spade. It is advisable to aerate the lawn afterwards and bring the turf level into line with the rest of the lawn.
A well levelled lawn left to grow a little longer will be in a good position to resist the ravages of winter, meaning less work in the springtime.
Feeding and Overseeding
Along with spring, autumn is best time for lawn feeding. Damp conditions and continued growth will allow a well-drained and aerated lawn to shore itself up for winter, when nutrient absorption and growth will slow dramatically.
Accordingly, it is best to feed first of all at the start of autumn, allowing you to take advantage of the maximum period of continued growth without the problems of summer heat, drought and increased lawn use, which can impede growth and nutrient absorption.
At the beginning of autumn, a granular feed such as Miracle Gro Evergreen Autumn, is recommended as this releases a steady amount of nutrients over a period of weeks, perfect for supporting the growth rate which increases over a similar period. Most granular feeds will come with recommended rate; it best to adhere to this and apply when the soil is moist. You can achieve this by watering first or applying when rain is expected.
Autumn is also the best time of year for overseeding, as summer lawn use is likely to have left bare or worn patches on your lawn. General stress to your lawn during summer may also have thinned out your lawn more generally, and so a blanket overseeding can be necessary.
It is a good idea to feed and overseed at the same time. Seed mixed with slow release fertiliser is available. Use a lawn spreader to distribute the mixture evenly. The soil must however be moist, so be sure to water your lawn a little first or apply seed when rain is expected. Patch repair kits are also available, should you need to encourage a little extra growth in a particularly worn part of your lawn.
Autumn is undoubtedly the best time of year to trim the edges of your lawn and beds, as well make other cosmetic changes. The season is uniquely well-suited to this practice because decreased use and growth will allow edges just enough time to grow in nicely for winter.
After summer, lawn and bed edges can have become overgrown or, depending on the shade caused by your garden vegetation, unevenly grown in. There are several ways to ensure neat edges which will become set for winter.
If your lawn edges aren’t straight, use a plank of would to determine a straight line and cut along with a half-moon edging tool. Be sure to clip any overhanging grass to ensure a straight edge. If your garden has paving stones or pathways, it might be worth investing a power edger which, when kept at the level of the stone, will cut away neatly any protruding grass.
For edging beds, it is best to use a pair of scissors as a closer cut will be necessary for this to look neat. Don’t forget to collect the cuttings from the bed for compost or, alternatively, do your edging just before a scarifying session, and pick up the cuttings and other debris in one go.