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Autumn Leaves… Then Winter Work Begins!

 It’s November: nights are drawing in, the first frosts are appearing and, if you’re anything like us at GreenThumb, you might be tempted just to don your wooliest jumper, huddle on the sofa, and create some Danish-style ‘hygge’ indoors!

When the good old British weather gets greyer, colder and wetter, it’s all too easy to neglect our gardens – which have served us so well through the summer - and we at GreenThumb think that’s a big shame.

Now half-term is over and we’re counting down to December, it’s the best time in your garden to finish autumn work and to start planning for winter – especially putting your summer-worn lawns to bed for their ‘hibernation’.

Crucial lawn care jobs on warmer and drier days just now include:

  • Leaf clearance – removing fallen leaves to protect the grass
  • ‘Mowvember’ – carefully cutting the grass while it is still growing
  • Aeration, scarification and feeding – ventilating the soil/roots, removing thatch and moss, and providing micronutrients.

Leaf clearance

Removing leaves from the lawn daily or once a week - as a minimum - will make it easier to mow and help prevent possible long-term damage. A thick layer of leaves can block light and so weaken the grass. Left to go matted and mouldy, this layer also provides winter shelter for unwelcome garden pests.

A great way to use the leaves – and any shade-causing branches you have pruned - is to create hedgehog nests in a remote garden corner. Hedgehogs – which eat lots of worms, whose soil casts are classed as a lawn nuisance by many - are becoming an endangered species. You can also put out fresh water and crushed biscuits to encourage hedgehogs to visit your garden - you may even spot them crossing your lawn at night!

Per single square metre, your lawn can have at least 45 worms and a maximum of 170, with an average 45 casts! That's a lot of sticky soil on the surface among the grass plants. Worms are beneficial minibeasts valuable for healthy soil – their burrows aerate it and they create sub-surface compost from leaves – so we want to keep them alive. We advise simply waiting until their casts dry, then sweeping them into the grass.

Beware Pests & Diseases

Lots of Crane Fly (Daddy Long Legs) were on the wing this autumn. This could be a sign of Leather Jacket problems ahead. Through the winter we advise checking for any lawn areas that are starting to go thin or lose colour. An indication of Leather Jacket infestation is if the lawn starts to go very bare around the edges and in shady areas.

Still, damp and dewy - or downright wet - days mean a lawn fungus called Microdochium Patch (Fusarium) may occur, especially on grass left unattended a little too long. More commonly known as Snow Mould – especially as it can be very noticeable after thaws of snow - this white growth can cause dead patches and may need our quick intervention with a fungicide as a last resort.

‘Mowvember’ grass cutting

Given the UK’s weather patterns of much milder autumns and winters, when the ground temperature remains above 5 degrees, your grass will continue to grow. We advise cutting it to keep it tidy – but make sure your mower blade is sharp and only cut off the top quarter of grass. Only mow when the conditions are suitable - not if the ground is waterlogged or frost is expected.

Aeration & Scarification

After a summer of everyone walking and playing on the lawn, the soil below may be quite compacted. This reduces the amount of air, water and nutrients reaching the roots, so the lawn needs hollow-tine aeration – much more effective than spiking or DIY garden forking – with our special machine.

If your lawn does become waterlogged, this could cause more moss. It grows when grass growth is slow and there’s a layer of thatch - dead grass and other debris - that lies on top of new grass growth and can smother it. We machine scarify to vigorously rake out thatch, then remove all the debris, allowing the grass more space to flourish.

Autumn Feeding

Now – between October and March - is the best time to apply autumn feed fertiliser. It contains both a micronutrient to encourage grass hardiness and root growth, as well as iron sulphate to control moss by desiccation. Our autumn feed has far less nitrogen as this makes grass grow in spring and summer.

So, during November, your grass is busy absorbing light, moisture and nutrients ready for those long, dark, cold winter nights. Let GreenThumb give your lawn an autumn/winter treat, and you’ll be rewarded with healthy turf next spring for everyone to enjoy again!

Visit https://www.greenthumb.co.uk/measure now where you can measure your lawn online for treatment; then contact your local GreenThumb branch to book our professional and cost-effective service. . .

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