Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




Sow now, mow later

 Gardening with Clive Sullivan of Cameron Landscapes and Ballylesson Garden Centre

IF you forgot to tackle your lawn in the spring now's the ideal opportunity to catch up

Late summer and early autumn are the best times to lay turf or sow grass seed. The soil temperature cools down, plant growth slows as grasses everywhere are starting to take it easy.

After the wet summer we've had lawn moss is laughing all the way to the bank.

The root cause of this is poor drainage, and aside from laying expensive drainage systems there are a couple of things you can do right now to stop the moss getting worse; scarification and aeration These cultural methods of control if performed annually will minimise use of moss killing chemicals

To scarify your lawn is simply to use a strong metal rake with sharp edges, giving the grass a really good going over to remove dead thatch and leaves.

A thin layer of thatch is great because it acts as a mulch, but if it's too deep it can lead to fungal diseases and prevent water and nutrients getting to the turf.

Therefore for a large area it saves time if you hire a scarifier machine.

Aeration is spiking the grass with a special tool which removes several plugs of compacted soil.

After raking these up, you can then fill in the gaps with horticultural sand to improve drainage. To make life easier aerating machines are available for larger gardens.

Top dressing is usually carried out during the autumn too, after scarification and aeration.

It's a mixture of sand, sieved soil, and peat brushed into the open holes left. The purpose here is to keep your lawn open, aerated, fill core holes and level the surface.

You may find after all that work that some bare patches have been revealed.

Rest assured now is the best time to sow grass seed A ryegrass blend is best because it's toughest; child and dog friendly.

Autumn lawn feeds are excellent now, as they contain chemicals to green your lawn now plus harden it off for the winter and feed the roots. I would really recommend using one.

One final thing. If you've a small garden, spiking the grass with a fork can be just as good as aeration. Don't be tempted to try golf shoes, they're not deep enough