SEPTEMBER can lull us into that dreadful false sense of security; it can still be blissfully warm and we forget that it is actually the autumn, with winter just around the corner. But the better the condition of your lawn prior to the onset of winter, the better it will cope with the extremities of the weather ahead. So there’s a lot you can be doing this month.
REDUCING THATCH: Thatch production will be at its highest during summer, so now can be another great time to control your thatch levels. And that means scarification! Yes, it makes a mess, but not for long; the lawn will soon fill right back in with natural grass growth. And that’s the key to proactive intelligent lawn care – letting nature and natural processes do the hard work.
Another reason for scarifying now is that the lawn has more time to recover before the hardships of winter. As strong growth returns after the summer, the pruning effect of scarifying – slicing the shoots and stolons – will encourage superb natural thickening.
MOSS: Now, many people make the mistake of applying moss killer before scarifying; there’s a logic to it as the scarifier can surely pull away the dead moss? Well, yes and no. This way you only kill some of the moss. Much better is to scarify first, thereby opening up the sward and allowing the subsequent application of moss killer to reach right down to the base of the pesky plants. That’s where it works at its most effective. Do it the other way round and you’ll leave behind plenty of living, green moss in the thick thatch layer.
SQUASHED SOIL? You bet. Even if you haven’t walked on your grass all summer, the soil beneath will have become compacted as it dries out. So now is the time to sort this out in time for the autumn rains, and to make sure plenty of oxygen can reach the roots and the microbes and good bacteria below.
Hollow tine aeration is essential – never use a garden fork as this just squashes the soil sideways and doesn’t remove those lovely little cores of earth. And those cores make great seedbed soil for patch repairs, or you can rake them into any dips you want to level out. You don’t always need to worry about filling in the holes either. You need good drainage in the months ahead for healthier soil and stronger grass, so leave them open. It’ll be fine!
TOP DRESSING? If you are cylinder mowing, you should apply a dressing – buy carefully; don’t just throw any old thing down. Once a year is a minimum, but you can do it more often if you wish.
And of course, keep mowing, and keep that blade sharp. Begin raising the height gradually from the end of the month; you don’t want to be removing too much of the nutrition that’s stored in the leaf – your grass will need it in the months ahead. But if you have to pick just one big job for September, make it aeration – it will always pay dividends!