Autumn lawn care will help your grass to get through the cold winter months. Not to mention that it will help fix any summer wear and tear. By looking after your lawn in autumn, you’ll ensure that it stays lush and healthy and ready to bounce right back in early spring.
Autumn grass treatment is best done in the correct order. Begin by levelling the lawn. Next, scarify, aerate, topdress and feed it. You will also have to kill weeds and mosses, neaten up the edges and finally, overseed bare patches. Follow these nine steps for a greener and happier lawn next spring.
All set? Let’s get started!
Why autumn is the best time to get your lawn healthy
Following a long and hot summer, autumn is the perfect time to give your lawn a makeover. Here’s why:
- During summer, your lawn can go through a lot of stress due to heat and high traffic. So levelling, aerating and topdressing in autumn will help your lawn recover from any summer stress.
- Autumn is also the perfect time to scarify your lawn. You can rake a little deeper without worrying about destroying any delicate young growth, unlike in springtime.
- Early autumn is also a good time to control lawn weeds like dandelions, daisies and clover that show up in summer and you can remove any moss too.
- Autumn grass feed can help ready your grass to brave the winter months.
- Autumn is also the perfect time to get ahead of the edging game. As the grass growth begins to slow, your edging work will last all winter.
- Finally, overseeding a lawn in autumn will allow the grass to establish roots before the cold and dormant winter.
Autumn lawn treatments to properly care for your grass
From levelling to overseeding, you can treat your lawn grass in 9 easy steps. Follow these autumn lawn treatment steps in the right order to give your lawn the care it needs.
1. Level the lawn if necessary
Start by dealing with any mounds and low spots in your lawn. Inspect your lawn thoroughly and mark all the areas that look rather uneven. Simply prepare a levelling mix of equal parts of soil and sand. Next, spread it across your lawn.
If you have to fill any large, low spots, remove the turf and fill it with the levelling mix. Then put the turf back in its place. If you have to flatten high spots, dig up and remove the excess earth.
Read our guide to levelling a bumpy lawn for more details.
The build-up of dead grass can make it difficult for water and nutrients to reach the grass roots, so you need to scarify your lawn by giving it a vigorous comb.
You can use a petrol-powered scarifier if you have a sweeping lawn, otherwise, a metal spring-tine rake is good enough, too. Scarifying will help remove the dense layer of thatch and turn lacklustre patches into lush greenery.
Tip: While scarifying, work in lines across your lawn. Go up and down, slowly tearing up the thatch.
Aeration allows more air and nutrients to get to the grass roots. It also helps your lawn to survive periods of drought and waterlogging, especially by the end of summer.
You can aerate small areas with a garden fork. Drive the fork 10 cm deep at regular intervals. If the soil is heavily compacted, you may need a hollow-tine aerator for best results.
Time to topdress your lawn. This will improve the soil structure, encourage stronger roots and keep your lawn healthy and happy, even during the colder months.
You can apply a ready-mixed topdress formulation. You can also make your custom mix to suit your soil.
A blend of 50/50 compost and sand works best for most UK gardeners. Spread the mix evenly over the lawn with the back of a rake, working it well into the grass roots.
Autumn feed for grass should be rich in phosphate and potassium. This will ensure that the roots are growing strong even during winters. Don’t pick a nitrogen-rich feed, as it will promote new, vulnerable growth that might not survive the colder months.
You can opt for a liquid or solid autumn lawn fertiliser. Apply it just before the rain forecast for the feed to get to the roots. Otherwise, water your lawn well after autumn weed and feed.
6. Kill weeds
Weeds rob your lawn grass of valuable nutrients and water. They also suffocate the grass and spread rapidly. Dealing with them is another important step during your autumn lawn care routine.
You can hand-weed small lawns. But for bigger lawns, you may need to apply organic herbicides, use a flame weeder or spray a DIY vinegar and soap weedkiller.
7. Remove moss
Moss is rather annoying and stubborn and it can plague any shady and damp areas of your lawn. You can get rid of moss without damaging the grass using lawn sand.
Start by raking out the moss. A good brisk comb with a bow rake will usually do the job. Is the moss stubborn? Spray a chemical moss killer over the area. Check out our full guide on dealing with moss on your lawn.
Tip: To keep moss from reappearing, correct any soil imbalances. These include low soil pH, poor drainage, and compacted soil.
Next, how about some finishing touches? Cut the lawn edges with a half-moon edger or a simple spade. This will help define the lawn edge, stop the grass from spreading into the borders and make it easier to clip the sides with a pair of shears.
Edging will transform the look of your autumn lawn and will make autumn grass care like weeding and mulching borders quicker and easier.
Finally, overseed the areas where the grass is sparse. This will fill in the bare patches and make the grass grow thick and lush.
Simply break up the soil surface using a rake and sow grass seeds. Then, rake the seeds in and water your lawn deeply.
Tip: While overseeding, work when the air is calm. This will ensure that the seeds are distributed evenly.
Pests and diseases
Red thread, snow mould, lawn mushrooms. Heard of these? They are common diseases and fungi that you need to watch out for in autumn. Let’s take a closer look at them.
- Red thread: A common fungus in lawns, it can pop up anytime between late summer to early autumn. Don’t worry, though. A nitrogen-rich fertiliser will sort it out.
- Snow mould: Usually occurring after prolonged periods of snow cover, this fungal disease looks like snow on your lawn. You can fix it by scarifying and aerating your lawn.
- Leatherjackets: These common lawn pests can eat the grass roots and slowly destroy your lawn. A heavy winter frost will most likely kill them. Here’s our full guide on getting rid of leatherjackets.
- Insects: Ants, grubs and even bees can make a home in your lawn and damage the grass root system. Thankfully, all you need is an organic pesticide to control them.
- Lawn mushrooms and fairy rings: Both lawn mushrooms and fairy rings can appear almost overnight, and they can ruin the look of your lawn. To deal with them, simply aerate the grass to allow more water, air, and nutrients to reach the roots.
- Brown patch: This is a common turf disease you will notice in autumn. Applying a fungicide should help you get rid of it.
- Slime mould: This fungal growth occurs in warm and damp areas. You can simply brush the slime mould away or mow over the afflicted grass blades.
Last cut of the year
Autumn mowing is not the same as spring or summer mowing. The grass growth is very slow, the ground is often damp, and winter is fast approaching. Here are some tips for mowing your lawn in autumn.
- Don’t mow your lawn heavily as the grass growth slows down during autumn.
- Stick to the ¼ rule. Don’t cut more than ¼ of the grass blade.
- Avoid mowing if the ground is very damp. Wet grass can clog your mower and cause it to spit out clumps of grass.
- Mow lightly but regularly in autumn to keep fungi and mould from breeding.
You might also like: When should you stop mowing your lawn? last cut of the year
Caring for autumn lawn
Caring for an autumn lawn is not very demanding. But a bit of upkeep like scarification, aeration and topdressing will ready it for the colder months.
Autumn is also a good time to repair uneven spots in your lawn and fertilise it. At the same time, you can get rid of weeds, mosses and other pests and diseases.
In short, looking after your lawn in autumn will award you with a greener, lusher and happier turf the following spring.