If you like nothing better than the sight of a beautiful emerald sward in your garden, now is the time to look after your lawn. Eden Horticultural Supervisor Darren Topps shares his tips for lawn care and maintenance.
Why is lawn care so important?
‘Autumn is the perfect time for lawn care, to counter-effect the hammering it has had over the summer period, from being walked over and mown,’ explains Darren.
Every time we mow the lawn we’re stripping grass of its nutrients and putting them in the compost! People tend to forget that grass is a plant, and – just like the ones in your border – it needs cultivating to keep it healthy.’
Five steps to a healthy lawn
- Cut the grass short
Mow the lawn as closely as you can before you start your lawn care treatment.
- Scarify the lawn
Scarifying is what you do to lift out the ‘thatch’ in the lawn – ie the dead grass, moss and weeds – stimulating the grass to grow from the base and providing a clean surface for adding grass seed. You can either use a spring tine rake or a mechanised scarifier, which is like a mower with prongs underneath.
- Aerate the lawn
Use the prongs of a garden fork to make holes in the lawn’s surface. This helps drainage and also lets out the stale carbon dioxide and allows in fresh oxygen to encourage root growth. Again, you can also use a mechanical aerator if you wish.
- Top dress and seed the lawn
This is your opportunity to fill in any bare patches of grass with new grass seed. Scatter a mixture of fine sand and compost over your lawn, paying attention to fill in any undulations in the soil. Then sow grass seed all over the top. Grass will germinate at temperatures down to 5 degrees centigrade, so autumn is a good time to help it thicken up while it’s not being used.
- Apply a turf hardener
Make your lawn more disease-resistant by toughening it up with a turf hardener. Available from garden centres, these feeds give the grass lots of iron and magnesium to encourage root development. They are low on nitrogen, so as not to encourage too much growth over the colder months. You will need to continue mowing the lawn regularly during the winter if it continues to grow. But make sure you use a higher cut, and avoid mowing if it is waterlogged or frosty.
Short course on lawn care at Eden Project
Darren, whose varied responsibilities at Eden include maintaining our lawns, is teaching a half-day Autumn lawn care course at Eden on 16 October 2012.
The course teaches you the techniques and principles for maintaining a healthy lawn. You’ll also get the chance to gain practical experience in Eden’s gardens, learning to diagnose and treat different areas of grass which are walked upon by thousands of visitors each year!
Darren, who gained sterling experience in turf management when he looked after the croquet lawns and cricket pitch at a private estate, says ‘the course is for anyone who wants to keep their little patch of grass healthy’.