September – NOT October – is the best month for autumn lawn care, and here’s everything you need to know.
Now, I’m not saying that I should have been the lead singer of The Temptations, but if I had stumbled into one of their songwriting sessions, Papa Was A Rolling Stone would have gone a little something like this:
“It was the third of September,
That day I’ll always remember, yes I will,
‘Cause that was the day that my lawn was revived.”
And it would have been proper accurate too because September (read: NOT October) is definitely the best month for some pre-winter lawn care. Think about it for a nano-second. It’s warmer than a holiday postcard, there’s usually a decent dollop of rainfall and there’s waaaayyy less seeding weeds, which is a right bonus. In short: September is a ruddy great time to give your lawn a little pick-me-up that will ensure it stops surviving the winter and starts thriving through winter, baby!
Fertilising, weed controlling, raking, scarifying, over-seeding, aerating – now’s the time to give your lawn everything it needs for a makeover because, from here on out, the weather should start getting cooler and wetter (but, judging by the “summer” of ‘19, who knows what the skies will start doing next #climatechange #thanksabunchtrump).
So, without further ado, here is the Joe’s Guide To Lawn Caring The Heck Out Of September – yeehaw.
If you love mowing, we have good news (and if you hate mowing, swap the word mowing for ice cream because everyone loves ice cream): September always, always boasts good levels of moisture and warmth, meaning your grass will grow better than ever, so make sure you keep trimming it every week.
That said, it will start getting cooler as of now and that means a) your grass will grow about as much as your grandad did on his 79th birthday and b) you’ll want to raise your mowing height by one or two notches until spring comes around next year.
We’re not saying you should service your mower right this second, but you should definitely book your mower in for a service toward the end of this month (or use this incredibly well-written guide to help you nail a DIY self-service without breaking into a nervous sweat).
In the meantime, it’s important to remember that the mornings are getting dewy, so start mowing in the afternoons and then cleaning your mower deck once you’ve spent the afternoon mowing. There are two simple reasons for this:
How do you know your lawn has a moss problem? Because it feels spongier than a Cakes by Tor birthday cake and, with wet weather approaching, the moss in your garden will be planning a comeback to rival the Spice Girls tour. This is bad news because moss can spread faster than a tropical rash (especially in damp or shaded areas) and will start overwhelming grass until your lawn is more moss than turf – unless you tackle it quickly.
To combat this travesty (unfortunately, I’m referring to the moss here, not the Spice Girls revival), the best thing you can do is apply some moss killer, wield your rake in a threatening manner or book in an aeration session with one of my lawn care legends (read: cultural experts). Of course, I’d recommend the latter because, although moss killer works (and works fast!), it is a short-term solution. So, to win the battle and the war against moss, start by reducing any compaction and poor drainage in your lawn through aeration, and then remove overhanging branches that shade your lawn, or allow more light through by raising the canopy of any surrounding trees.
Removing lawn thatch should be your biggest priority this September (unless you’re expecting a child or grandchild, in which case their birth might come first). But before I get into the how, let me remind you what thatch is: it’s grass clippings, moss, weeds and other garden debris that has matted together to create a thick mess at the surface of your soil. Anyway, to sum it up in a nutshell, thatch is bad, and it’s bad because it stops water and nutrients from reaching your grass roots, which is bad because it makes it easier for disease to do its thing.
Thankfully, telling lawn thatch to – excuse my French – “Sod Off!” is relatively easy — it’s called scarification, and what a scarifier does is a little bit like raking, if your rake was a hardcore machine that looked like The Rock and was able to remove surface thatch from your lawn while opening up channels for water, air and nutrients to get through to the soil, not to mention producing more horizontal shoots (aka a denser sward).
There’s nothing sadder than seeing an unused lawn, especially if said lawn is unused because the owner loves it so much they don’t want anyone to walk on it. That’s not cool, man. Lawns are there to be enjoyed. They’re for dancing on, slip n’ sliding across, barbecuing from and enjoying a bunch of garden games on – and if they get a little compacted from all that heavy traffic come this time of the year, that’s fine, so long as you fix the problem with some lawn care.
You see, compacted soil can lead to a load of problems with drainage, and that can see moss start spreading and water just lying on the surface. Cue our gorgeous, spiky-wheeled machines (aka aerators). These machines work by removing plugs of soil from your lawn that will a) relieve compaction, b) allow water and nutrients to get through to the roots, c) improve drainage and d) lead to a drier top surface, thus discouraging moss and disease. Basically, aeration is a total winner.
Us humans might like chowing down on the biggest fowl we can buy in mid-December, but your lawn loves that kind of big feed in September. By tossing around a load of feed that is high in phosphates and potassium this month, you will be encouraging healthy root growth that will ensure your beloved lawn is ready to cope with everything winter throws at it. Just make sure you’re using an autumn feed and NOT spring feed (which is high in nitrogen) or you’re lawn will become a right pansy and start getting damaged by the cold weather instead of standing up to that bully — and if you’re not sure what you’re doing, well, that’s what my awesome lawn programmes are for. Easy.