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Five tasks for the autumn garden. Love your lawn!

What to do with the lawn now autumn is here

With the season of mellow mists and fruitfulness upon us, it's just about the end of the lawn-care year. And while some people will be heaving a sign of relief, secure in the knowledge that they can put the mower to bed for the winter, others will relish the last chance to make sure everything is ship-shape on the green grass carpet. So how exactly should you treat your lawn in October?

Mowing the lawn can still continue in October but it's time to raise the cutter height.

Raise the mower cutting deck

Firstly, raise the mower cutting height by at least one setting. It can stay that way until mid-spring 2017. If your lawn is full of moss you will need to raise the cutting height higher. Make sure you can see the grass sward above the moss, or there is a chance that a moss lawn is what you will achieve.

Look after your grass during autumn and winter and you'll have a lush green carpet awaiting you in spring. DID YOU KNOW that the shorter you mow your grass, the more it strives to grow? It basically wants to repair itself from the cut. Leaving the lawn longer gives a more luxuriant appearance. This is particularly important in winter as you want the grass to remain healthy so that weeds don't embed themselves over the dormant season. But the main reason to leave the grass longer during winter is to give the roots a bit more protection. The chances are that the lawn will receive some pummelling during wet and cold weather and a good top growth will cushion the lower layer and soften the long-term effects.

Weeds will have a great chance to grow in your lawn if the grass is cut very short.

Feed your grass

Should you feed your lawn? It's a great idea. You can do it throughout October, right through until early November. If you live in the north of the UK you will be better to do this earlier rather than later. Choose a feed that's designed for the end of the season. It promotes lawn health rather than encouraging growth. A high iron fertiliser will help the lawn to green-up over the dormant season.

Feed your lawn in autumn but make sure the feed doesn't promote growth. You want your grass to 'green up' and develop strong roots rather than tender top growth.

Aeration will help to get rid of moss

What to do about moss in the lawn? It's a bit late to scarify because the grass might not grow very much afterwards. The absence of moss will then leave your lawn open to colonisation by other weeds. Instead, give your lawn an aeration treatment. This is actually one of the best moss-controlling tasks you can perform. Even a garden fork stuck into the grass at regular intervals will help the drainage. A hollow tine treatment is even better. It will improve the drainage and allow air and nutrients to enter the soil. There are ferrous sulphate-based moss control products which can be used over the winter, should you wish to use them.

Moss tends to grow if the ground is waterlogged or shady. Aerate your lawn to minimise the colonisation by weeds.

Trim the edges

The best task you can perform in October to make your lawn look lush and beautiful is to trim the edges. Use a half-moon tool to neaten up any squashed edges and this will give them a good vertical emphasis. You will be amazed at the difference.

A neat lawn edge is a delight to behold!

Clear the leaves

Finally, the golden rule for autumn is to clear leaves off the lawn. They can stay on your flower beds but if you leave them on the lawn they'll make everything go yellow and slimy.

Clear the leaves off your lawn in October.

Autumn joy

The forecast for the rest of the month suggests that temperatures will be slightly warmer than average. This means that there will be oodles of opportunities to enjoy the very best aspects of the season. The colours; the sights and smells; the fresh air and glorious moist soils covered with falling leaves. The emerging shapes behind the foliage that gradually reveal themselves as the season progresses. It's so easy to allow the beauty of the landscape to remain invisible once evenings draw in and attention is drawn to the fireside rather than the outdoors.  Autumn colours are well worth seeking out. Don't forget to notice them!


Places to visit

Get outside and soak up the sights of the season. Sheffield Park and Garden near Uckfield, Sussex, is one of the best venues for autumn colour in the south east. It's a landscape that has been shaped by influences of Capability Brown and Humphry Repton. The park is formed around four lakes, waterfalls, a palm walk and glorious tree species from around the world. Knole Park near Sevenoaks, Kent, is another treasure not to be missed in autumn. This medieval deer park, surrounding a calendar house (said to have 365 rooms, one for each day of the year), famously lost about 70 per cent of its trees during the great storm of 1987 but the landscape has already recovered and there are some monumental trees to enjoy in autumn.

Get out and about this autumn and enjoy the spectacle of leaf colour. Where else to enjoy the autumn show?  Westonbirt National Arboretum in Tetbury, Gloucestershire is a world-class arboretum with at least 2,500 different tree species. The site has 17 miles of paths and there are guided walks throughout October. Stourhead in Mere, Wiltshire, the landscape gardens with their famous follies including classical temples and grottoes, also puts on an amazing autumn display. There's an autumn colour guided garden tour available from October 17. Further north, there's Faskally Woods in Pitlochry, Perthshire, with over 200,000 acres of ground which covers the banks of Loch Dunmore. The diversity of tree species is awe inspiring and every October there's an award-winning sound and light show called The Enchanted Forest.

Faskally Woods stages the Enchanted Forest light show every autumn.

Glorious autumn, it's too good to miss. So many treasures, don't allow them to be buried beneath a mound of autumn chores.

By Perfect Plants


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