Autumn is the time to give your lawn some love

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You have all joined us on our journey from blocked car park to luscious lawn, so we thought it only fair to share some important autumn tips with you.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, one of the hardest plants to grow and maintain in our garden, believe it or not, is grass. Well, not in all those places you don’t want it to; like between the paving slabs, in the flower beds and rockery, even in the greenhouse, but trying to get that beautiful, flat, green lawn is a heck of a load of work and I suspect it’s one of the reasons people give in with gardening early on because they didn’t realise just how much work a lawn is.

front of house
How the front looked when we bought the house

Way back when we first bought the house, there wasn’t a lawn. The previous owners had been elderly and found it was too much for them, so they had replaced it with a paved area which more suited their lifestyle. Kate, however, had two images in her head of what it meant to be a proper house owner and paving slabs weren’t on that list (house owner not flat or apartment owner).

These were;

  1. shovelling snow from your driveway
  2. mowing your front lawn.

So as you can imagine, quite early on we decided to lift the paving and lay a lawn. There is now quite a library of blog posts for your perusal all about our lawn adventures. Everything from laying the lawn to accidentally killing it and then having to re-seed it.

So over the last few years, we have learned about grass and lawns and how to look after them and we now have our yearly routine.

It all starts in the Autumn

or September to be precise.

After the summer, the lawn has been growing rapidly and using up nutrients in the soil, so it needs a really good feed. Not just a feed though, it needs feed with Autumn lawn food, high in potash and phosphates which will protect the grass from frost and ice. The high nitrogen spring/summer feeds encourage lots of leafy, top growth, which is soft and easily damaged by frosts, so you don’t want to use these for autumn and winter.

However, before we feed the lawn, we need to give it a good scarify to take out any moss, dead grass, dead leaves etc that are clogging up the soil and potentially taking nutrients away from our lawn. This is called thatch. This is also a good time to go around with a garden fork and put lots of holes into the lawn to release some of the pressure from the compacted earth and to allow air, water and nutrients down to the roots.

Unfortunately scarifying is as much work as digging, so prepare to be knackered, blistered and in pain, but we have found that gin and tonic that evening at least helps with the pain.

So how do I scarify the lawn?

We have found that the best way to do this is to rake the entire lawn in one direction and then go back and repeat this in the opposite direction, kind of like crisscrossing (or kriss krossing if you are a child of the nineties).

Now you can think about feeding. You can use dried food (which is most common) but be careful, we have a fine type of ornamental grass in our front lawn and it burns so, so, so easily. As you all know, so be careful. You won’t have to feed the grass as often during the colder months at all, maybe once in autumn once in winter (at most).

It starts again in spring…

So there you go, Autumn chores are done, but I did say we had a yearly routine….

Yep, you have to do all this again in the spring, just in time for the new shoots to pop up and say hello. However, the feed you use for spring and summer is different, you want high nitrogen feeds for this time of year. You want that green, soft growth I mentioned earlier.

Mowing really takes it out of the grass and so you need to feed it regularly throughout summer and spring. Our efforts over the last couple of years have shown us that feeding fortnightly with a high nitrogen feed works wonders and just for a bit of a giggle and to show how wonderful it is, here is a photo of the lawn when Kate hadn’t been paying attention when feeding. Make sure you use good straight and overlapping lines when you feed folks. Or this could happen.

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Can you see the parts which didn’t get the feed? I still chuckle when I see this.

Of course, you are actually wanting to see this… nice and even.

Moss

Lastly a bit of a tip for dealing with moss. If you’ve ever had a mossy lawn and applied the various moss killing treatments, you may very well have had the heart-stopping moment where your lawn suddenly develops huge black patches where the lawn once was. This is horrible, you put all that work in and it looks worse than when you started.

Luckily, thanks to Beechgrove garden, Kate has a solution to this, she uses a product called Mobacter. It works a little differently, it does kill the moss, yes, but you don’t get the huge black or bald spots because what it does is break the moss down and turn it into food for the grass so it actually feeds the grass at the same time as killing the moss. A word of warning though, it has the weirdest smell, be warned, it’s like a mixture of chocolate and chicken poo…. very weird and not very pleasant for a couple of days.

But worth it!

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Just for you… here is our explanation of scarifying your lawn – our pain and blisters included free of charge.

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