October 2017 Lawn Diary
This Month in a Nutshell
This is the start of the end of this year's lawn care. Scarifying and seeding should be finished for those north of the Mersey and Humber line and near completion for everyone else. Though mowing will be less frequent everywhere, fertilisation and aeration still remain on the schedule with moss treatments now being high on the agenda.
Summary 'to do' list for October:
- Applying Iron or Ferrous Sulphate
- Clearing leaves
The lawn care year and weather appear to be ending on a slightly better note with late September being beautiful for working out with some sun and moderate warmth.... between the downpours!!. As autumn progresses watch out for leaves and worm casts, keep on top of the mowing (even if it doesn't look like it's grown much) and give the lawn a good feed to winterize it and help it sustain itself through the winter months. The outlook from the Met Office is:
UK Outlook for Monday 2 Oct 2017 to Wednesday 11 Oct 2017:
Monday is expected to be unsettled with spells of rain in most areas followed by brighter and showery conditions on Tuesday with sunny spells. It's also expected to be windy for most on both days with gales or severe gales likely in places, especially on Monday. Following on, more settled conditions will probably develop for a time, chiefly across southern parts which would give an increased risk of fog forming overnight. Changeable weather will probably resume later with spells of rain travelling eastwards, and brighter, showery weather following along behind. It will be windy at times with the risk of gales in places, particularly across northern and western coasts. Temperatures will be around average, but with a chance of frost in clear spells overnight.
UK Outlook for Thursday 12 Oct 2017 to Thursday 26 Oct 2017:
There is low confidence in the detail for this period, however changeable weather is likely to continue across much of the country at first, bringing wind and rain at times, particularly in the north and west. This will bring an increased likelihood of gales as well as heavier rain to northern and western parts. However, there is a chance of a more settled spell of weather around mid month bringing drier and brighter weather with an increased risk of fog and frost forming overnight. By the end of the period more changeable weather is again most probable, with spells of rain and strong winds moving across the country interspersed with drier, brighter and more settled interludes. The best of the brighter and drier weather is most likely in the southeast.
Reminder of New Article - A Quick Guide to Everthing
Owing to many many related email questions, we've added a quick guide to help in two areas:
- In what combination can you use multiple products and in what order
- What order to perform various tasks
Click the heading above to take a look - hope it's of use. If something isn't quite clear please comment by email and we will correct any ambiguities.
Growth has started to slow so check you have raised your mowing height by at least one setting until mid spring next year. If cooler wet weather has caused or causes a resurgence of moss raise the mowing height even more so that at least 1 to 2cm of grass shows above the moss after grass cutting.
If the grass is damp it can easily build up inside the mower so always give the mower a good brush, scrape or hose down after every use. If heavy dew is a problem 'squeegee' the lawn first.
September and October are great months for the Autumn lawn feed. Not only does this give you a fantastic lawn ready for the winter but also 'winterizes' the lawn giving it some protection from the ravages of winter temperatures and disease.
Our Autumn Fertiliser can be applied anytime from mid August through to November, though I'd consider no later than end October for anyone north of the York Moors, Dales or Lakes. With low temperatures and a nutrient formula designed for the end of year you'll get little leaf growth but maximum health and colour. Should your schedule put you into a late October or November feeding, then also consider using Winter Green High Iron Fertiliser as this causes minimal growth whilst greening magnificently if temperatures are above about 80.
If you have already fertilised and want to give the lawn a bit extra to protect from disease and reduce moss vigour whilst giving the grass a green up, try a medium to heavy liquid application of Ferrous Sulphate. This is also useful to reduce worm activity which may be evident in the cooler wetter conditions.
Any application of weed killer after about the middle of this month is going to have a very limited effect so if you need some weed control get onto it straight away. If you've been diligent with your weed control and only have a few weeds then try a last squirt with a Ready to Use Weed Killer or manually removing them.
See Weed Identification for more detail and control methods.
As the weather cools and grass growth slows, moss, if present, will become more and more evident. You're quite possibly too late now to consider raking the moss out as there may be insufficient grass growth for the lawn to repair and recover afterwards leaving it open to even more moss!!
Consider cultural control methods where possible and moss treatments with applications of a ferrous sulphate based moss killer. Moss treatments are very useful as a standalone procedure to control the progress of moss and can be used every 4 to 8 weeks throughout the cooler months to keep the moss in check. This way you may enter spring with much less of a moss problem and may avoid the need for raking it all out once again! Sounds like a 'win win' situation to me!
This is unlikely unless you've recently scarified or seeded and conditions are dry.
Autumn and in particular September to October is the time for hollow tining the lawn. This improves drainage and allows air, nutrients and rain to move down to the roots rather than sitting at the surface. Normally by now there has been enough rain to allow the tines to penetrate the soil making the job easier.
Other forms of aeration are perfectly acceptable but hollow tining is by far the best way to aerate at this time of year particularly if you do it infrequently or have a moss problem. Hire a machine or for small lawns, visit our shop for a Hollow Tine Aerator*.
Remember to fertilise the lawn AFTER aerating if possible.
Some lawns don't need much in the way of scarifying so check for thatch first. If it needs doing only consider this in October if it has remained mild and grass growth is good. The temperatures, particularly from Yorkshire and Lancashire northwards are getting a little too low for good recovery. In addition, if conditions are dry then recovery after scarification may be compromised. Either water thoroughly, wait for enough rain (several inches may be needed) or postpone until the spring.
If you're new to scarifying a very handy tool is our Lawn Scarifier. This is great for smaller lawns or for the edges and awkward places on larger lawns. For small to medium lawns an electic lawn raker can usually manage but consider hiring or buying a petrol scarifier for large lawns.
Finally, don't forget to fertilise and over seed your lawn after raking or scarifying. This is an often neglected part of the renovation process leading to slow recovery with patchy lawns that end up full of weeds and weed grasses. So, use the Autumn Fertiliser and finally over sow with new grass seed to make your lawns sparkle.
Leaves: Weekly collection is very important for grass health and to reduce moss, disease and worm activity. If you have a rotary mower and the leaves are dry use it to suck up the leaves.
Make sure conditions are not too wet or soft before working on the lawn. If the surface is firm then re-cutting edges is in order plus any repairs using turf.
Disease: Two diseases rust and fusarium may be present at this time of year though they usually go unnoticed by all but the most addicted Lawnsmith! Fusarium can also be a sign of poor turf health, high thatch levels, poor air circulation, compaction or just persistent wet conditions. If you do experience an attack it is usually of little consequence in a domestic lawn. Do look for possible causes though as you can resolve any problems ready for next year.
Leatherjackets: Though this is the time of year you'd normally treat for leatherjackets the chemical Provado Lawn Grub Killer has been withdrawn from sale in the EU. We will advise you when we know of a replacement.
Worms: As the weather cools and becomes wetter, worms start to surface and produce muddy casts that cause mowing problems. Worms are beneficial in that they digest organic matter providing nutrients and enriching the soil. They also do some valuable aeration. A lawn with worms is generally far healthier than one without; therefore going around killing them to reduce casting is not a good idea. Fortunately the chemicals that did kill worms are no longer available.
The problem end of the worm is the cast and your lawn may be covered with them anytime soon. Brushing doesn't work when the casts are wet but you can reduce the casting. This can be done with one or more applications of Angus Downcast; a product specifically formulated for worm cast control. Alternatively, an application of Soluble Iron is ideal if you are already using it as part of a moss control program but not quite as effective at worm cast reduction as Downcast. These products work by making the lawn surface less palatable for the worm so they surface less or move into the borders. By applying either of these (not both in the same week) a few weeks before the worms decide to surface you will reduce the casting problem thereby giving a better cut and nicer lawn.
Comment regarding Downcast: We have learned from customer feedback in our review section that poor results have been obtained in August and September 2017. We have performed our own tests and have discovered that the extremely wet weather during this period has seriously diluted the product and therefore reduced its efficacy. To combat this application frequency can be increased. This will be incorporated in the labelling shortly.
Finally, toadstools will be appearing which generally should not be of concern other than to keep you busy picking them out.
Unlikely to be required until next spring unless you've over sowed with grass seed.
Top dressing is an advanced lawn care procedure to reduce thatch and smooth the lawn surface. If you are not a lawn nut then I suggest you don't need to bother!
If you are and growth is good, then you may have an opportunity for one last dressing in the early part of October. Combine topdressing with any other lawn renovation procedure you may wish to undertake. See top dressing advice.
With the potential for wetter weeks you should have already seeded prepared ground for your new lawn. Be ready to water if the weather turns dry. If however, you've been waiting for cooler wetter weather for turfing them the time is ripe from now into March at least.
Lawnsmith Products from this month:
- Lawnsmith® Autumn Fertiliser
- Lawnsmith® Winter Green Fertiliser
- Lawn Weed Killer
- Lawnsmith® Ferrous Sulphate
- Moss Killer
- Hollow Tine Aerator
- Lawn Scarifier
- Lawnsmith® Grass Seed
- Angus Downcast - Worm Cast Control
Thanks for visiting the Lawn Diary
Have a great month