Autumn that is. Although turf can be laid at ANY time of year (including winter!) the Royal Horticultural Society has declared mid-autumn as the ideal time of year for laying turf. This is because it is best not to lay turf during periods of extreme weather conditions such as frost, excessive rain or a drought. Generally speaking autumn in the UK has proved to give us optimum conditions that allow us to prepare the ground to be turfed in advance, and we know that preparation is always key.
Autumn Lawn Care Tasks
As well as being the prime time for turf laying, autumn is also a great time to perform some annual maintenance tasks on existing lawns. After using our grassy areas during summer for garden parties and sun bathing, a little TLC is often required to keep it in tip top condition.
There are three basic lawn care jobs that are best carried out in autumn – aerating, scarifying and feeding. Aerating deals with soil compaction by loosening it. Loose soil allows plenty of oxygen to penetrate into the root system and supports all of the micro-organisms that are integral to healthy sward growth and survival. Hollow-tine tools are ideal, creating deep, hollow channels by removing cores of earth. These can then be brushed over gently, returning some of the soil into the holes or adding a feed or new soil.
Scarification is the process of removing excess grass thatch from your lawn. This allows the grass to breath and means that nutrients, air, water and sunlight can penetrate more easily. It’s a great invigorator and really promotes strong, healthy grass growth.
Overhanging trees and shrubs will start to drop their leaves and these can be removed to keep the lawn looking tidy. Recently people are turning to the idea of leaf mulching – where the leaves are run over with a lawn mower and shredded into smaller particles that are easily decomposed and digested by worms, funghi and bacteria – all organisms that work under the surface to keep your soil nutritious and your lawn healthy.
You can apply an autumn fertiliser to give your lawn a boost if it needs it, but it’s not essential – especially if you fertilised earlier in the year. Don’t wait until it’s too late to apply fertiliser though, as excess nitrogen applied too late in the year (end of Oct onwards typically) can bring on a fungal disease called Fusarium.
As winter approaches you wont need to cut your grass unless the temperatures are very mild, and its still growing. Given that we live in the UK, the chances of that are unlikely!