August 2020 Lawn Diary
Beat the Rush!
During spring we were completely swamped with orders as a direct result of the lock-down. As a consequence, we had to shut the website down on four occasions. Not a bad problem to have but we'd like to ensure a much smoother autumn and better experience for our longstanding loyal customers and also to continue to support our new customers who have hopefully found lawn care and Lawnsmith a new and important part of their lives.
Therefore, with the extra safety measures we are taking plus continued shortages and supply chain disruption we are recommending you beat the September rush, delayed delivery and out of stock notices by ordering early, preferably today.
This Month in a Nutshell
More rain and a little less heat is normal for late summer and early autumn. It looks like many are getting the rain but seeing as we've had very little summer heat this year I'm not sure that less is possible!
Summary 'to do' list for August:
- Weed Control
- Raking, scarifying and over-seeding
A poor summer for us mortals following a wonderful spring but you should have a happier lawn as a consequence. Conditions are generally good (for the lawn anyway) and if the grass is growing just keep on top of the fertility, weeds and mowing but not forgetting to relax a little and enjoy the lawn ready for any autumn renovations toward the end of the month. However, if it's dry, keep the mower on the high side, keep feed, weed and moss products off until the lawn has had a good soaking and be ready for a bit more work to help the lawn recover as conditions improve.
Long range forecast courtesy of the Met Office:
Sunday 2 August - Tuesday 11 August There are some fairly strong signals that unsettled conditions are likely to continue through into the first half of August, with outbreaks of rain and scattered showers affecting all parts of the United Kingdom at times. The heaviest and most prolonged spells of rain are likely to be focussed towards the northwest, where it may also become quite windy at times with a risk of gales in exposed locations. However, there should still be some drier and brighter spells in between the outbreaks of rain, with the driest of these conditions expected towards the southeast. Temperatures are likely to be slightly below average for this time of year, but perhaps near normal towards the southeast.
Wednesday 12 August - Wednesday 26 August This period is likely to see a mixture of dry and settled conditions, interspersed with occasional bouts of wetter and windier weather. The majority of the unsettled weather should most likely be in the north and west, with the south and east seeing the driest conditions, especially later on this period. Temperatures are likely to be around the average for this time of year, with any particularly warm weather being short-lived and generally towards the south or southeast. Looking further ahead into late-August, there are some tentative signs that conditions could become more widely dry and settled across the UK.
If you have good levels of moisture the grass growth should be at or near its best so mow on a weekly basis. If wet weather causes a resurgence of moss raise the mowing height at least one if not two notches. If growth is sluggish due to lack of moisture mow at least every 10 days. If it's wet and you're struggling to mow the lawn read this How to Mow Wet or Long Grass
For the mowing season you need to do two things: keep it clean and keep it sharp. 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. Secondly, if you do a lot of mowing, then be prepared to sharpen or swap blades midyear to maintain a clean cut.
Giving the lawn a helping hand this month with a generous feed will not only make it look a whole lot better but will keep growth optimal thus reducing moss invasion and helping the lawn wear better during the school holidays.
As August is the tale end of summer lawn feeding and the start of autumn fertilising I suggest you apply as follows if moisture levels are reasonable:
- If you're south of the borders and haven't already applied a summer feed then any of our Spring & Summer slow release fertilisers are ideal. You can then apply an autumn feed in late October or early November.
- If you're north of this line use an Autumn lawn feed. Traditionally autumn fertiliser can be applied anytime from middle August through October in most parts of the country.
- If your lawn is presently on the dry side use, wait and use an Autumn lawn feed once conditions improve anytime from mid August through October
- If you're feeding with our Liquid Fertiliser carry on as required and apply your granular Autumn lawn feed as above - NOTE do not use liquid products on dry lawns
Don't forget that if you're doing any lawn renovation including scarifying and over seeding, put the fertiliser in afterwards and NOT before.
If you've had rain then you've more than likely your fair share of weeds. The predominant ones at this time of year are clover, yellow suckling clover, ragwort, plantain, speedwell and self heal with the usual crop of dandelions being thrown in for good measure.
If you haven't done much weed control or if you treated in spring then August and September present another great opportunity for applying weed killer to the whole lawn either by knapsack sprayer or watering can. If you're using a watering can try the sprinkle bar for faster more accurate application.
If you've been diligent with your weed control and only have a few weeds then keep at it with a combination of spot treating individual weeds with a Ready to Use Weed Killer or manually removing them.
See Weed Identification for more detail and control methods.
WARNING: Do not apply weed killer to dry or parched lawns other than as a spot treatment. Always read the label for advice on repeat treatments and safe use.
With wetter weather approaching as we move into autumn, moss will be making a comeback so consider cultural control methods to control it during this month. Start by raising the mowing height, thinning any trees or plants that are reducing light and also aerating to improve drainage. Next month start considering moss treatments with applications of a ferrous sulphate based moss killer or raking the moss out if the problem is bad.
Ferrous sulphate is great for grass and very useful as a standalone procedure to control the progress of moss and can be used every 4 to 8 weeks at it's higher permitted rates throughout the cooler months to keep the moss in check. This way you may enter spring with no noticeable moss problem and avoid raking it all out once again! If you prefer a granular alternative then use Winter Green high iron.
If you do water this month do it in the mornings to reduce the likelihood of bringing on red thread. If strange dry patches or rings remain even after watering see 'Pests and Diseases' below.
Autumn is a great time for aeration particularly as the soil will be getting softer as we progress through the autumn season. Once you feel the heat has gone out of the summer and things are definitely getting wetter rather than drier then hollow tining the lawn is the best. This will improve drainage, get oxygen to the roots, stimulate grass growth and reduce surface moisture desired by the moss.
If you've got other lawn aerators they can be used as well - basically the more the merrier.
As long as the lawn is neither bone dry nor soft then the conditions should be excellent for raking or scarifying IF IT NEEDS DOING. Some lawns don't need much in the way of scarifying so check for thatch first.
Traditionally August (for Scotland), September (for southern England) and either for pretty much everyone else is the prime scarifying time. This may seem early to some but it is vital that conditions and growth are good so that the lawn recovers well before the winter. If you leave it too late the recovery stops due to the cold!
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 full of weeds and weed grasses. So, use the Autumn Fertiliser or a pre-seeding fertiliser such as Lawnsmith® STARTER and over sow with new grass seed to make your lawns sparkle.
Renovation requires water to help the grass repair and recover so only undertake renovation (scarifying, top dressing, seeding, repairs etc) if you can water if conditions are or become dry. Any turfing laid will require regular watering to establish.
The disease to watch out for from May through to late summer is red thread which occurs as humidity levels rise. With rain and therefore humidity this will become active in many lawns. Getting a good dose of fertiliser in is an important part of the treatment but do read the red thread section for more information. Hopefully this is the last month we will see it actively eating our grass and next month will give us greener lawns.
In addition, if your lawn suffers from 'dry patch' or 'fairy rings' then these will become more evident as dead semi-circles or brown patches during the dryer or hotter months. Because these conditions literally prevent water from penetrating the soil they remain 'dead' whilst the rest of the lawn recovers and turns green when milder wetter weather arrives. Watering, spiking, fertiliser and a wetting agent will go a long way to relieving the problem so read the appropriate section in Pests & Diseases.
If your lawn still retains some green colour you may also find the leaves turning a blotchy rusty yellow colour. This is a fungal disease which developes when lawns are under stress from heat and drought. Plenty more info on the rust and mildew page.
By now you should have seen some crane fly (daddy long legs) about. The larvae can cause some serious turf damage so have a read of the crane fly article though unfortunately there is not much you can do if you do have an infestation of grubs as there are now no chemical treatments.
Yellow meadow ants are also still very active, so if hills start forming in or around the lawn you'll need some ant bait stations or ant killer sachets. The sachets are brilliant for stopping the ants in there tracks but do be careful with the concentration - more is not necessarily better! The bait stations are best used as a preventative measure after using the sachets.
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.
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 should be considering applications from now through September. Combine this with any other lawn renovation procedure you may wish to undertake. See top dressing advice.
With the potential for wetter months you should soon be able to apply grass seed to prepared ground for your new lawn without it drying too quickly. This month and next are great times for starting a new lawn from seed though do be prepared to water if the weather turns dry.
*Lawnsmith product categories from this diary:
- Lawnsmith® Fertilisers
- Lawn Weed Killer
- Moss Killer
- Hollow Tine & Lawn Aerators
- Lawnsmith® Grass Seed
Thanks for visiting the Lawn Diary
Have a great month