scarifying a lawnMaintenance

  • Carry out autumn lawn care, as long as the soil isn’t waterlogged and the weather isn’t very wet or frosty. This will improve the lawn’s resilience and appearance next year.

  • Apply an autumn lawn feed if your grass needs a boost – do this after scarifying and aerating but before applying a top dressing. Autumn feed is rich in potassium and phosphorus, to encourage hardiness and root growth. Don’t feed with leftover summer feed, as this contains too much nitrogen, which stimulates lush growth that would be vulnerable to disease at this time of year.

  • Remove fallen leaves from lawns so they don’t smother the grass, blocking out light and moisture. Raking is the best option, but on large lawns a leaf-blower will make the job much easier. Battery-powered models are now available, which are better for local air quality than petrol blowers. 

  • Mow if necessary during mild weather, as grass continues to grow in temperatures above 5°C (41°F). But raise the cutting height to 2–4cm (1–1½in) – about 5mm (¼in) higher than in summer. Mowing will also help to deal with any annual weeds that have sprung up in new lawns sown earlier in the autumn.

  • Plant spring-flowering bulbs in lawns to add colour and pollinator-friendly flowers – great choices include snowdropscrocuses and daffodils. Just remember that you’ll have to leave the area unmown for several months in spring, from once the foliage starts to appear until it dies back. So it’s usually best to plant in specific areas where the grass can be left unmown, rather than scattering them across the whole lawn.

New lawns

  • Lay turf onto prepared soil. Avoid walking on newly laid turf – leave it undisturbed for several weeks to allow the new roots to establish

  • Sow grass seed on prepared ground in warmer regions of the UK, but it’s getting too late in cooler locations – for good germination, the temperature should be at least 8°C (46°F). 

  • Sow a wildflower meadow in warmer regions, and/or plant wildflower plugs into existing lawns.

  • If very heavy rain or a cold spell is forecast, cover newly sown areas with clear polythene. Light to moderate rain is welcome though – it will aid germination.

  • Mow recently sown areas of grass for the first time, to neaten them up before winter. They should only need mowing once this year. Set the cutting height to at least 2.5cm (1in). Mowing will also help to get rid of weed seedlings.

  • See our video guide to creating a new lawn.

Problem solving    

  • Toadstools and fairy rings often appear in lawns at this time of year. Most are harmless saprophytic fungi that feed on decaying organic matter and do little if any damage. However, do remove toadstools if the lawn is accessible to small children. Good lawn maintenance will generally deter fungal colonies.

  • Consider laying stepping stones through your lawn if it’s walked over regularly in wet weather, to avoid causing damage and muddy patches. Set the stones level with the soil surface so they don’t interfere with mowing.

  • Look out for waterlogging as the weather gets wetter. To improve drainage, spike the lawn with a garden fork or mechanical aerator, then brush a mix of sharp sand and loam into the holes. See our guide to autumn lawn care, or tackle in spring, depending on the weather.

  • Algae can appear on lawns with poor drainage or excessive shade, or under the drip-line of trees.

  • Yellow or brown patches at this time of year may be caused by the fungal disease fusarium patch, especially in wet weather and in overfed, lush lawns that have been left a bit too long.

  • Worm casts are a sign of healthy soil, but if you don’t like them on your lawn, brush them off with a hard broom once they dry out.

  • See all our lawn care advice.

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