October 2020 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 in Scotland, Northern Ireland and perhaps Ireland, and near completion for those north of Birmingham with perhaps a few more good weeks left for those in the south. 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
A soggy end to September for many but great if you've just put seed down or been waiting for rain to enable you to fertilise the lawn safely. 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 weather outlook courtesy of the Met Office is:
Sunday 27 Sep - Tuesday 6 Oct A brief period of drier weather on Sunday, though it will be cool with a ground frost possible even in the south. Into the start of next week, it is set to return to an unsettled picture. Generally windy weather coupled with showers and occasional longer spells of rain. The heaviest rain most likely in the north and northwest, which may also see gales at times. Although in the east and southeast, there may still be brief interludes of drier and sunnier weather. Temperatures will generally be rather cool, potentially cooler in more persistent rainfall, and overnight frost may be seen in prone parts of the north as and when calmer spells of weather allow.
Wednesday 7 Oct - Wednesday 21 Oct Further into October, conditions are likely to remain unsettled for most. The most unsettled conditions being in southern areas. Generally windy with a chance of gales however the risk of gales reduces later in the period. Feeling cool throughout with a risk of overnight frost. Lighter winds means that morning fog patches may also become more prevalent towards mid-month.
Reminder of New Article - A Quick Guide to Everything
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!
For those of you with concerns for safety of children and pets that are likely to be on the lawn soon after treating you can now use a chemical free product in your treatment program. See MossOff in the moss killer products link below.
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 leather jackets 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: Though it's best to treat for worms at the first sign, they will continue to surface throughout the winter 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.
The problem end of the worm is the cast and your lawn may be covered with them by now. Brushing doesn't work when the casts are wet but you can reduce the casting. Making the surface of the soil less palatable is how most worm control products work and we still believe that an application of Soluble Iron or Ferrous Sulphate is as reliable as most but definately the most cost effective control method. It is ideal if you are already using it as part of a moss control program.
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 product categories from this diary:
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