Secrets To Lawn Care in Autumn- Equipment Checklist
It’s that time of year again when the leaves start to change colour and begin to fall from the surrounding trees. Autumn is a critical period in nature’s calendar when we all slow down and prepare for winter. Whilst many people shift to the impending festive seasons, for lawn enthusiasts there is no better time to make significant changes to the health of your outdoor green space. In this resource, we are going to take you through an Autumn lawn care checklist and share the secrets for the best results come spring. Let’s get straight into it.
Aeration and Overseeding
In the UK, it is common for preparations to start in mid to late October, before the first frosts take bite. Aeration improves drainage and increases soil temperature which is ideal for this time of year. It assists with the movement of air and water in the grass pile, promoting healthy, strong roots to survive water logging and cold spells.
The process itself is relatively simple and can be done on a small budget. The simplest way to start is with any old garden fork at that can pierce the garden surface. Spacing the holes between 4-6 inches apart and as deep as your tines can reach. Followed by backwards and forward motions, you can make the aeration holes large enough to stimulate the airflow in the deepest parts of the grass pile. However, for medium to large gardens, this method can be very tiring and take a long time to complete. Therefore, investing in renting or purchasing a petrol aerating machine could be very beneficial.
Petrol Aerating Machines
These machines allow you to relieve your lawn of compaction and remove excess thatch or organic matter that can starve roots of vital nutrients. Mounted on 4 wheels, these machines consist of a small petrol engine which drives their tines into the ground as it passes over the area. The speed and frequency of these punctures are determined by the machine operator.
Aerating machines also come with a choice of tines to choose from. These are called core tines and solid spikes. If you need to remove a large amount of thatch from your lawn, then core tines are favourable. These will remove a small amount of dirt from the surface of the lawn as the machine passes by. If you are looking to just relieve compaction, then using the solid sike tines will be sufficient. Annual aeration is highly recommended for a lawn to grow strong and luscious. You may want to alternate between two different tines, depending on your years’ growth and the amount of organic matter lying with the grass pile.
Nevertheless, whichever method you decide on, it will certainly make a huge difference to the strength and density of your lawn. Now once you have aerated your soil, you need to consider overseeding.
Overseeding during Autumn
Overseeding should be part of a bi-annual process that happens in both Autumn and Spring. All lawns are affected by the environment in which they exist, therefore it is important we work with nature to achieve our lawn goals.
This process helps with filling any gaps that may have occurred during the year. Additionally, it helps with the colour and overall aesthetic appeal of your lawn. Overseeding during autumn will reduce weed or moss invasion. Both of which can be very damaging and difficult to remove. The best conditions for germination to occur is around 13 degrees centigrade. Therefore, your timing must be accurate to achieve growth within a small window. Germination normally takes anywhere between 7-21 days to complete in the ideal conditions. However, always be sure to give yourself enough time before the cold weather sets in.
Choosing the right grass seed for your overseeding is extremely important if you are going to make the job worthwhile. Before selecting any old seed, you need to establish, what type of grass already resides in the area you are treating. Following this, you need to be aware of the type of soil that the grass lies on. Some verities of grass seed could struggle in more shady sandy soil compared to others.
Now that you have identified your current grass and soil, it is best to evaluate if they are compatible. If you need help finding out “How to figure out what grass you are working with” then check out this resource on mowing grass. CLICK HERE.
Overseeding should be done by either a spreader or hand when all other lawn winter preparations have taken place. Let’s have a closer look at these now.
Dead Leaf Removal and Thatch Removal
Another chore to tick off the autumn lawn care checklist is the removal of organic matter that lies on top and within the pile of your lawn. As you are probably more than aware by now, this time of year is an endless battle when it comes to falling leaves. The removal of dead leaves is important to allow your lawn to circulate oxygen deep into their root structures.
Decomposing leaves reduces the essential light, water and oxygen that keep your lawn alive. The two most effective ways to remove dead leaves from a lawn are by a hand rake, or by leaf blower.
By far, the quickest and most effortless way to complete this aspect of lawn care is with a leaf blower. These machines are specifically designed to help remove leaves and other lightweight materials from your lawn. Some designs can also double up to be a garden vacuum. There are two iconic types of leaf blower. A handheld design and a backpack style. Handled designs are generally big enough for most domestic applications, whereas you are more likely to see a backpack model in a commercial set-up. IE: golf course or a tree and gardening business.
The next big question is what to do with the waste once you have collected it all. Your first option is to find an ethical way of disposing of the material. This could be in a garden waste bin or down your local recycling centre. Or alternatively, you can decompose the material yourself to use later. A great example is to add it to a compost heap.
Now that you have got all the dead leaves off your lawn, it now time tackle to the dead organic matter that is in your grass pile.
Thatch removal and recommended equipment
If you have never heard of thatch before then let’s give you a full explanation. Thatch is a layer of organic material that has settled in between the lawn pile. This can be small, tiny cuttings that have not been collected during mowing. Decomposing matter such as leaves and other organic materials. All these components over time develop into a very tight knitted layer that sits at the bottom of the grass pile. If not removed, it smothers the grass and stops any sunlight, oxygen or water from getting to the roots.
Thatch removal is the process of removing this unwanted layer of organic matter. This should only be done annually as it can be quite vigorous and damaging. However, the process itself stimulates new growth and maintains a healthy lawn. There are two very common ways of being able to remove thatch from a lawn, so be sure to have these in your lawn care checklist.
First up is the classic garden rake. The second time we have introduced it. But be sure, they have more than one great use in them. Using a garden rake, you can work all over your lawn and pull the thatch up from the bottom of the grass pile. This method does require a lot of effort and time. We would highly recommend not to use this method for large lawn areas. However, for small yards it is ideal.
For larger applications, your best bet is to use a Lawn Scarifier. This small machine is specially designed for this task. No matter the size of your lawn, using a lawn scarifier can leave a more even finish, with minimal effort, in no time at all. These machines are available in several different designs depending on the supplier you choose. They operate by small blades spinning into the grass pile which tears out the thatch. This is either collected by hand or by the machine’s bag. (Design dependent).
Now that we have looked at the different ways of removing thatch from a lawn, let’s have a look at how to fertilise your lawn in autumn.
Should you fertilise your lawn in Autumn?
After the busy summer, there is usually no better time to enhance and repair your lawn than in the Autumn period. Nevertheless, this step is not essential, however can lead to better overall results if that is something you are aiming for.
If you feel that your lawn, or the lawn of a client needs a bit of a boost before the dormant months, you can apply an autumn lawn feed. These formulas are generally rich in potassium which encourages root growth and strength. Exactly what you need going into the colder months ready for spring. Large root growth will aid in more nutrients being absorbed by the grass overall. Leaving healthy, aesthetically pleasing grass.
The best autumn fertilisers are ones that work with the soil. You must be aware that introducing chemically made products can have terrible long-lasting environmental impacts on the soil. Wherever best, use natural, however, if not, always refer to the fertiliser application instructions. For the best results, ensure you have aerated and scarified before doing so and apply fertiliser a day before forecasted rain.
Once you have completed all these steps, you can now look to overseed as we have described earlier in this resource.
Protecting your lawn over winter
There are a few simple steps that you can take to protect your lawn during the winter months. We have already covered most of the main tasks you should undertake, but there is still one to consider…. Mowing. Mowing your lawn in winter is deemed or be a bit alien, but it has its purpose, nonetheless.
Remember if your grass gets too long then the bottom of your lawn pile won’t be able to reach any sunlight. Therefore mowing, throughout the winter months, is actually an integral part of protecting your lawn over the winter.
If you decide you are going to do so there are three very key points you should consider:
- Never cut your grass as you would during the summer months, always leave a little bit of length.
- Never cut in the wet as this will damage the entire lawn. A stressed lawn can lead to the introduction of diseases or permanent damage.
- Never walk on your lawn when it is frosty as you can damage the blades of grass.
Protecting your lawn with the right equipment
When undertaking your Autumn lawn care tasks, having the correct equipment can directly impact the outcome. Therefore, before jumping into the deep end, you should consider the following factors to get started:
- What do you already have
- What size lawn
- What’s your timescale
- What budget do you have to play with
Let’s have a closer look at these factors and break them down to evaluate your needs to be able to protect your lawn this Autumn.
What do you already have?
This is quite a straightforward question in terms of what tools or equipment to do the job. You will be surprised what you might find in the shed to start with. Most of the jobs that are required to be completed before the winter months can be done with bare minimal tools. However, the next factor may determine the overall effort.
What size is your lawn?
This question is going to determine the amount of effort and time it is going to complete all tasks. The larger the lawn, the longer in theory it will take to finish. This may be something you want to consider as our next factor is…
What is your timescale?
For everyone, this may not be a factor. However, if you are doing this at weekends, evenings or as a full-time profession, you need to make sure it’s completed in time. At least well before the first frost sets in. This may determine if you need to use any alternative equipment to help work more efficiently.
What’s your budget?
The last factor is the budget for the project. If you have a minimal budget for the project, then you should start as early as possible. However, if you can spare some funds, you may find it beneficial to either purchase or rent the right equipment to get the job done faster and much, much easier.
Hiring tools to complete your autumn lawn care tasks
If you are about to undergo your autumn lawn care tasks, you may be considering hiring some equipment to help you do so. Unlike purchasing, renting equipment can work out as a better financial option for many. Especially for homeowners or small businesses, renting lawn care equipment can be very inexpensive but highly productive at the same time.
If you are looking for some lawn care equipment for autumn this year, then WHC Hire Services has the equipment to help you get the job done. Check out our full range of gardening equipment available for delivery and collection across our UK depots. Alternatively, get in touch to speak to one of our team today! 01684377977