independent

Friday 20 October 2017

Give your lawn some autumn care

Plant of the week: Nerine bowdenii
Plant of the week: Nerine bowdenii

Andrew Collyer - Practical Gardening

Unless you have an absolute postage stamp I still love to see some lawn and grass in all gardens. The smaller the garden the stronger the lawn shape should be to make a definite statement, circles, squares and rectangles all work well. Fake grass is becoming increasingly popular in small spaces and they are fine as far as it goes but you have to accept them for what they are as there is no mistaking the real thing. Fake grass can be particularly useful in small shady gardens where moss can be a unsolvable problem.

Battered and bruised as your lawn may be after summer's activities it will generally recover and regenerate seemingly by magic, regardless of any tender loving care, into a reasonably healthy green surface. That just what grass does and what makes it so remarkable. But if you want to give it a helping hand and show it some appreciation now is the time to give your lawn an autumn make over.

For those of you with large lawns of half an acre or more grass management can be come a real issue. The issue is one of time, cost and practicality. As a minimum annually you should try to keep your grass mown regularly, don't let it get longer than than five centimetres from April to September. You should attempt to control the weeds and moss and if possible give it a spring feed. But if you are going to really love your lawn there are autumn maintenance tasks that will pay dividends.

First stop is to do an overall check of the current state of your grass, worn patches , weeds, moss. On small lawns an autumn weed, feed and moss killer is your best and easiest option. Don't be tempted to use left over spring weed feed and moss killer because the high nitrogen content this will make your grass grow rapidly, the autumn version is blended to strengthen the grass roots for over wintering. Because of cost these pre-mixes can be prohibitively expensive so applying sulphate of iron at a rate of 30 grams per square metre, a small handful, and spraying liquid selective lawn weed killer is your best option.

Moss is the bane of Irish lawns and although it is more prevalent in shady and poorly drained compacted areas in our conditions it can occur just about anywhere in your lawn. After you have treated your moss it will go black and this really needs raking vigorously with a spring bok. There is a great product call MO bacter which can be applied thats contains a bacteria that eats moss over a number of weeks and doesn't cause the moss to blacken and requires no raking afterwards but it is quite expensive.

After treating your lawn with either of the previously mention methods you need to wait ten days. Your next job is as mentioned scarifying or vigorous raking. This not only removes dead moss but also removes ' thatch' which is a word given to the dead grass cuttings and general small debris that accumulate around the grasses roots over the summer. It also stimulates the grasses root systems allowing air circulation to make them strong. This scarifying should be done regardless of the use of MO bacter for moss because of its other benefits other than dead moss removal. Scarifying machines can be hired from plant hire shops as raking can be back breaking work on large or small scale lawns.

Aeration is the next job which can be done every two to three years. Aeration improves drainage and is particularly useful in areas of surface compaction where it can be carried out annually. In small gardens a garden fork or aerating fork pushed into the surface at 15 centimetre spacings to the full prong depth can be used and there also machines that do this task on larger areas. Once you have aerated your lawn you can brush into the created holes a mixture of one third part sieved soil/compost and sand. On heavy soils you could use just sand of light sandy coastal lawns just use sieved soil.

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