Many of our sites are reducing the frequency of our visits to their grass areas for the winter period, nowadays, but that does not mean that there is less to do, we just need to do a bit more thinking about what we do, rather than doing the same thing (grass cutting) each time.
When grass is growing vigorously in the summer months, it usually acts as its own health guide. If the green starts to fade to a yellow or brown, it is usually missing sunshine or water; or if the grass growth is too long, it can be cut; easy to assess and easy to solve.
But when the temperature drops down below 5°C this will have an effect upon the metabolism of grass, it slows down and starts to store energy, to consolidate its position rather than keep on growing.
This may mean that the grass will change to a wiry stringy new growth in the last few cuts, but it will live on. The main purpose grass will long for, is survival. In the growing season, it will grow and seed as it grows but it can lose out to broad leafed weeds which grab more sunlight or other pests which require less root strength, but at this time of year, when it is not trying so hard to compete for the reduced hours of sunlight, it is susceptible to moss, disease and other threats which take advantage of other aspects of its health, like soil conditions, including drainage and acidity which can let diseases thrive.
Hard, compacted ground is a sure way to prevent seed germination, encourage moss and disease so good ground preparation with deep spiking, aeration and soil exchange is the key to promoting good seed germination and a strong healthy sward of grass.
We can offer a full programme or just what suits your needs, size of grass area, (lawn or sports pitches!) and your finances! Call us today.
What can we actually do?
Tackle moss and thatch
- Start off by controlling moss, which often starts in shady patches under trees or hedges, and spreads infesting the neighbouring areas.
- Treat by spreading a moss killer (fungicide) across the lawn and usully within two weeks the weed will have died and turned black.
- To prevent it from thriving in the future, it makes sense to tackle its cause.
- Remove the shading branches, or lower hedges or improve drainage.
- Remove the dead moss by vigorously raking the surface with a spring-tined lawn rake.
- Remove old grass clippings and other debris that can build up on the surface of the lawn, forming a layer called thatch. This can hinder drainage and encourages weeds and turf diseases. Throw the material on your compost heap when finished.
- Not got a compost container? – check out our Compost Guide
- Areas of the lawn that get heavy traffic, such as play areas often become very compacted which can cause problems with drainage, weeds and moss.
- These can be improved manually by pushing a garden fork into the ground as far as it can, then wiggle it backwards and forwards to make air channels. This is repeated every 20cm (roughly a fork’s width) across the lawn.
- Follow up by applying a sandy top dressing across the surface of the lawn that fills the holes, allowing air and water into the lawn
- On larger lawns a powered aerating machine or a hollow tining tool, that removes plugs of grass, would be used, which can be filled with the same top dressing.
- Please read our information about fertilisers
- To finish off, we can perk up tired lawns by giving them a feed. Use of an autumn lawn fertiliser, which is high in phosphorus and potassium. This will help strong roots to develop, which will produce healthy leaves.
- Some are tempted to use any fertiliser. BE WARNED: A spring fertiliser at this time of year, which would contain higher levels of nitrogen, which encourages soft, sappy leaf growth, making the lawn vulnerable to disease and damage by frost.
Autumn and winter aftercare
- As autumn turns to winter, we make the most of any opportunity to rake the lawn to keep it free of leaves. A thick layer of leaves will smother a lawn and weaken the grass, in a similar way as “thatch”, and it also provides winter shelter for unwelcome garden pests.
- Avoid walking on your lawn in the winter, if it’s frosted, as this can also damage the grass, well in to the next year’s growth.