Saturday, 20 October 2018



The end of October was traditionally the time to give the lawn its last cut, but with the prevalence of milder winters the grass often continues to grow till the end of November. If your lawn is firm enough to take the mower without causing any damage then continue to cut the grass. However for these later cuttings raise the blades to leave the grass a bit higher to help it through the winter. Local authorities have the same problem, but as they
Raking out moss and thatch
use large heavy ride on mowers the weight can do serious damage to the surface so they are more likely to stop cutting earlier if the surface is too wet.
A couple of weeks after the grass has recovered from cutting the autumn renovation works can proceed to put back good health into the grass sward.
When the grass is dormant we can carry out some serious repair and renovation works. Lawn edges often break down but can be repaired easily, with a wee bit of hard work. Bare areas (dog and cat damage) can either be returfed or prepared for a spring sowing. Moss control can now be tackled and surface aeration can be given to help drainage. Any weed problem will have to wait till spring as most chemical weed killers require the weeds to be actively growing to absorb the weed killer and translocate the chemical to all parts, especially the roots. Always read the labels when buying lawn weed killers as most broad leaved weeds respond quite well to chemical eradication, but clover is a lot tougher and needs chemicals especially formulated to act on these weeds.
Surface renovations in autumn
Where ever there is poor surface drainage often after a lot of compaction if the lawn is used a lot, moss can take hold and grow rapidly. This can also weaken the grass especially in winter as the moss continues to grow and smother the grass.
Spiking the lawn for surface aeration
This is another good reason to leave the grass higher than normal after the last cut. This is where the springbok rake is used to rake out as much moss as possible from the surface as well as thatch built up over the year. The debris raked up can go on the compost heap. If you have a large lawn you can hire or bring in lawn specialists with machines to scarify the surface. It is faster and more efficient than the springbok rake.
This is usually followed by spiking or hollow tining the lawn. You can buy a hollow tining hand tool or on a small scale use the garden fork, but for the folk with large lawns a machine will carry out this work fast and effortless. Hollow tining removes a complete core, whereas the garden fork creates a hole without removal of soil. Cores left on the surface need to be brushed off and again added to the compost heap. These holes require filling with a lawn autumn top dressing of sand, sterilised soil and a slow release lawn fertiliser which often has a moss killer added, (usually sulphate of iron). Brush this in until it all disappears. These lawn top dressings can be purchased already made up to assist drainage, feed the lawn and control moss.
Small bare patches can be scarified and top dressed with compost or sterilised soil, but do not sow fresh grass seed till early spring.
Attention can now be turned to edges, if any damage has occurred over the year. Repair edges by cutting a turf one foot by one foot and one inch or so deep in from the damaged edge and lift and turn the turf around so the new straight cut is on the edge. Firm it down and make sure it is level.
Now the lawn is sorted turn attention to the mower. Winter is the time for cleaning, repairs and maintenance to make sure the blades are sharp and the rollers the correct height for the next year.

Wee jobs to do this week
Cleaning and sorting the Bramley apples
Although the Bramley apple tree had a massive crop of huge apples a lot came down prematurely in the September gales. However these windfalls and the rest of the crop need cleaning and sorting for storage in a cool airy shed or garage. Fruit that is only slightly damaged can be kept separate for immediate use, or it can be cored and sliced after removing bruised or damaged bits, then rinsed in salty water to stop browning, washed again, then bagged for the freezer. Undamaged fruit will store well into next March if kept in a dark, cold but frost free and airy shed or garage. Lay them singly in flat boxes lined with clean newspaper.

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