Well the wet weather of November carried on through December with 89mm or 3.75 inches . Interestingly this matched last December as well . Outcome of all this wet weather is MOSS and more Moss, although moist conditions are not the only factor responsible for moss, it certainly is the main contributor.
Other factors that add to the problem – Thatch, Shade , Drainage, Air movement, Cut height and Feed.
Moss in most cases is always present on lawns, but in most cases the % cover is so small that you don’t notice it in a healthy lawn , until one of the factors that contribute to its growth is no longer in balance.
Thatch can build up at surface level, and below – it is a mat of dead and decaying root and grass material that can prevent surface water draining through , it provides a perfect medium for moss spores to grow on and prevents air getting to grass roots and air movement around the blades of grass. Healthy soils are less prone to this as fungi and bacteria will feed on this thatch , break it down and convert it to a natural fertiliser that encourages grass to grow strongly. Getting that balance is not easy, but regular scarification to remove this thatch can help.
Shade – provides perfect conditions for Moss , hence as we moved into autumn with shorter days and less light the spores that are present quickly multiply. You will always notice Moss where you have trees that create shade and plants that spread out over the edges of the border on to the lawn. Hedges throw shade and often we find gardens moss free on one side and then as you move towards the hedge it increases. North facing gardens also are a potential moss haven – no direct sun and constant shade.
Drainage is vital to move away excess moisture , again if you have water sitting on the surface the moss quickly grows , aeration will help remove excess water – but to get the real benefit it should be done in conjunction with top dressing in order to get some sandy loam in to the growing area. Clay soils are the worst and you should always ensure remedial work is carried out when conditions are appropriate.
Air movement – hugely important, many small lawns can be surrounded by fences and hedges which provide the structure of the garden. Probably not possible to change the design , but you should be aware that there will be less air movement , and lawns will take longer to dry out.
Cutting height is a major factor in encouraging moss – too often grass is cut too short and the blade scalps the surface, the grass never recovers and the surface is populated by the moss spores. Essential to adjust cutting height through out the year according to the conditions and never cut more than a 1/3 of the grass length at any one time – also need to take in to account the grass variety and type of mower that you are using.
Keeping the soil fed with a balanced nutrient programme around the year ensures that the grass is growing strongly and can smother the moss out. In the South East we are seeing an increase annually in temperatures to the extent that grass will grow all year around – it probably slows down a little in November / early December with the lower light level, but not that you really notice. Feeding is a mixture of providing the essential elements that grass needs to grow , but also feeding the soil, if we can encourage an environment for soil fungi and bacteria to flourish the soil will support the grass and without excessive growth the grass will be strong and less prone to disease
December soon came around and the first morning of the month has started with a relatively bright day after the misty fog of November .
Overall November had 50mls of rain – not a lot , but it came on the back of a wet November – and with the exception of a couple of frosts, the dull days kept surfaces damp and slippery . We also had some remarkably high day and night temperatures that kept the grass growing – and the Moss.
Most lawns I have seen remained relatively disease free, but for any golfers you might have noticed that some of the greens looked pretty bad where they had not been able to apply fungicides. Golf greens are under constant use ( COVID permitting ) and the grass is so much more stressed , and fed to keep it looking fresh , but then it is more susceptible.
With your lawn we try to avoid over feeding and look at the cultural practices to improve the soil which keeps the grass growth in balance. The last of the autumn application have now been applied, which was a mixed feed biased towards root growth and less top growth.
We are now using this period for maintenance and checking over the equipment to be ready for the New Year , also implementing plans for next year , and installing new software that I hope will improve communications with you. By early January we will be back to apply the Winter treatment and first of the year , which will be a combined lawn tonic and moss killer , this is also an opportunity to re-asses your lawn and make any further recommendations for the forth coming year.
If you are struggling to come up with any ideas for Christmas presents for someone we are offering gift vouchers that can be purchased in multiples of £50 – these can be used against any Lawn work we undertake for existing or in the case of new customers against any work following a survey – they only cover the county of Hertfordshire.
Merry Christmas & Best wishes for the New Year
Well we head into the darker days of Autumn , the clocks have gone back and nature seems to be curling up.
We had the wettest October I have known – I recorded 7 inches of rain if you take in the first 3 days of November, combined with a lack of sunshine some older lawns certainly suffered and looking quite pale, in contrast to newer lawns that have either recently been sown and had good soil structure and newer hybrid seed mixes still look pretty good and with relatively warm temperatures of 16 degrees during the day and a couple of evening recently still making growth and requiring cutting when it is dry enough.
It certainly ensured that any grass seed that was sown germinated well and very even and lawns re-seeded after scarifying are looking excellent.
The big negative of all this wet and dull weather is the incidence of moss – where grass is thin it is producing a lush green thick carpet, but a timely treatment with an iron based product now will keep it at bay – followed up again in early January.
Most important job in the garden now is to keep the leaves of the lawn – they can quickly become fixed and smother grass. Leaves depending on the species can take a long time to break down and if not removed they will sit on your lawn and kill the grass.
With leaves come worms and worm casts which are also a big problem , with the moist weather and the leaves they can become very active .
The late, great Spike Milligan once wrote “Today I saw a little worm wriggling on his belly, perhaps he’d like to come inside and see what’s on the telly”.
There’s no denying that, for gardeners, worms can be as divisive as Marmite. Before you start to worry about worms in your lawn though, let’s not overreact and feel like we have to eradicate them altogether.
Earthworms are not necessarily bad for our lawns as they are an important part of the eco-system. It’s fair to say the ‘pros’ outweigh the ‘cons’ when it comes to worms, as they recycle nutrients, feed on dead plant material and create natural aeration in the soil. That said, worm casts produced on the surface of our lawns (usually between autumn and early spring) can be a real irritation. The casts can cause turf surfaces to become muddy, slippery, unsightly and can create loads of potential ‘weed pockets’ with each cast.
There are numerous types of earthworms in the UK, but only a few varieties create worm casts. Casting worms eat the soil, digesting and extracting the goodness from it as it passes through their bodies. The casts, which are pushed up as they work through the soil, are the by-product of this process.
Well we are now in to short days – darker for longer than it is light, consequently grass is beginning to slow down – although it still needs maintaining. September saw 25mm of rain – and the outlook for the first 10 days of October is much the same , not a lot but 3-4 mm every few days is enough to keep the ground moist and certainly ensure good germination of any lawns that have recently been re-seeded. Soil temperatures are still reasonably good and the current weather will help the slower germinating varieties in grass seed mix.
Weather permitting it is probably still possible to lay new lawns if you are on lighter sandy soils and can prepare a seedbed. Other wise now is the perfect time for tackling those dry patches that some lawns are showing where grass has died out – these can be over sown and if done in the next week or so should be fine.
Plenty of daddy Long legs around this season and evidence of holes being dug in lawns by foxes looking for a feed , also birds pulling away at old dead grass where moss is dominant to find the leather jacket. Its not too late to treat with nematodes that will reduce the population now , but will need to follow up with a spring treatment.
Weather conditions are perfect for Moss – so areas of shade will quickly become populated with moss spores , and in severe cases worth treating now, and weather permitting following up with a light scarification ( dependent on weather and soil type )
Fertiliser applications are now commencing with Autumn feed – perfect conditions for this , and it will help the grass survive the lower winter temperatures and the toughen it up. We are using a slow release controlled product , which responds to the growing conditions – low in Nitrogen, so as not to over stimulate growth.
Weeds that have survived earlier treatments will receive the last spot spray of the year – which if it stays warm can kill – or at least it will knock them back.
Key opportunity for this month is repair those patches !!!!!
September Blog – Lawncare
Well there is now certainly an autumn feel in the air – with a cool breeze and warm mid-day sun ,which is ideal for grass growth .
Looking back on August it was an incredible month from the 11th to 28th we recorded 5 inches of rain in that short time , with another 0.5 inch in the first week of September . Very frustrating some projects that were part way through were delayed – but now its all go.
Autumn & Spring are a great time to carry out scarifying and lawn renovations and make overs – the soil is still warm and the moisture from early morning dew makes it perfect for grass seed germination, with less tendency to dry out.
In some cases lawns can never be recovered from weed infestation or moss – the only option is to kill them off and start again. If you go that route you have the option of seed or turf , some people prefer the turf option as it gives them an instant lawn.
However turf is very expensive in comparison with seed and has other disadvantages – you are never sure of what you will get in the grass mix – even accredited gold standard turf can be prone to the odd weed or mixed grass species . With seed you have more control of what you are using, and less need for scarifying in the early years – turf almost comes with it own built in thatch.
I am a keen believer in managing the soil to get the best out of the grass and through August applied some treatments that included Bacteria and Fungi to feed the soil micro biology. I like to follow that through by using an organic top dressing following any lawn re-seeding. This again feeds the soil, I use Finely graded <4mm lawn dressing manufactured from composted organic material in accordance with BSI PAS100 (2018).
What does it do?
Provides a valuable source of organic nutrients and soil organic matter for the establishment and maintenance of a healthy lawn.
What are the benefits?
- Returns provides a valuable source of organic matter.
- Improves the soils ability to hold on to water making your lawn more resilient to drought conditions.
- Provides a slow release of nutrients that grass and plant species need to grow.
- Helps to suppress soil borne diseases, resulting in a healthier lawn.
- Improves the rooting of grass seed and provides a denser more verdant sward.
Newly sown lawn 28th August – just coming through
Bye for now until October