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
Every time I write about it being dry – it rains , I finished the following on Thursday 13th August and since then we have had 3.5 inches of rain !!!!!
Well the hot weather returned with a vengeance and lawns are really suffering as a consequence . The South East has been much drier than the western side of the country and even the rains of July have not helped.
Comparisons are being made with 1976 – also a long hot dry summer. In many places the ground is rock hard and rain when it comes is likely to run off and make very little difference – we will need steady light rains to make any difference.
We actually had 3 inches of rain in June and 2.5 inches in July – but the extreme temperatures of 24 deg C to 34 deg for weeks on end reduced the benefit of that rain.
Its been interesting looking at the soil profile of lawns that are dying back – the dark patches seen on the surface where grass is suffering are so dry penetrating with a soil auger is a real challenge . The core extracted is often completely bone dry to the point of nearly being dust, and at the surface 2-3 centimetres is a thick layer of dead matted material that acts as a surface sponge when it rains – but prevents water getting through.
Lawns that remain looking green and lush now are those that have the benefit of a good healthy soil and open structure – likely to be those that are relatively new where the soil was cultivated to a good depth and roots have been able to go down and soil capacity for holding moisture is good.
Healthy soils are vital to support grass – they need a lot of beneficial bacteria and fungi to be supporting the soil micro- organisms, good soil structure is important to this and extreme weather conditions wet or hot always highlight the problems.
Scarification and aeration is so important in these circumstance – although both can be very aggressive and so need to be done under the right conditions.
Aeration punches holes into the soil , to allow water to get through and oxygen which will encourage root growth. There are different types of aerator tines – some will slit the surface , others will spike or take a core of soil out . Soil type will determine the best tine for the job – it should not be carried out on soils when too wet, ideally it is done when soils are dry , this can have the added benefit of shattering encouraging further cracks to appear in the soil around the tine . However aeration cannot be carried out when very dry – as the machinery will be unable to penetrate the soil as is the case now .
Now is the time to carry out work to improve soil structure – and through September , please don’t hesitate to call for a survey to look at the soil structure of your lawn.
Do you need to treat leatherjackets in your lawn?
What are Leatherjackets?
A leatherjacket is the larva of the crane fly, or the Daddy Longlegs as it is more commonly known. The crane fly lays eggs as part of the natural life cycle. The larvae can be good for the soil ecosystem, because they process organic material and increase microbial activity. However, they can cause considerable damage to your lawn are not generally appreciated by gardeners! At this time of year, we should be regularly checking our lawns for signs of leatherjacket larvae damage. In the worst case scenario, an infestation of leatherjackets can decimate your lawn so being alert and checking for larvae during winter and early spring is a good idea.
How to spot Leatherjackets in your law
- Dry patches in the lawn
- Peeling back the dry patches reveal the grubs in the soil. The leatherjackets are grey/brown with a tough skin
- A large number of daddy long legs around your garden
How to treat leatherjackets in your lawn
The difficulty with leatherjackets is that there is very little you can do to prevent them and unfortunately there are no chemical treatments available. There are, however, ways you can treat leatherjackets in your lawn and get rid of them from your garden.
- They are valuable prey for birds and mammals various so let nature take it’s course! The birds may peck at the lawn in the hunt for the larvae but with a bit of luck they will solve your problem before the grubs hatch
- It is possible to treat leatherjackets in your lawn by covering the area with a large black plastic sheet overnight. This will encourage the leatherjackets to come to the surface of the lawn, so they can be removed in the morning once you take off the sheet
You will find that when the larvae have eventually hatched, the crane fly will disappear away and continue their life cycle elsewhere. As mentioned above, there are no pesticides available since changes in EU legislation as few years ago. There are organic solutions available which you can try but they have limited success. These are called nematodes, which are actually microscopic worms. The way they work is that they get into the grubs and infect them with a bacterial disease which kills them. There are lots of factors which need to be right for this treatment to work.
Want to treat leatherjackets in your lawn? Contact us today!
Crazy weather that we have – as soon as I mentioned needing to water last month it seems to have not stopped raining . June we had 3 inches of rain and July we have had 1.5 inches to date .
The outlook for the rest of July after the weekend looks like it will improve – less rain , but still unsettled, which is disappointing.
What is surprising though is the number of lawns that I have looked at recently where they are still dry – often lawns that are relatively old and predominantly fescue grass mix .
They have built up a layer of thatch and debris at surface level and the water often cannot get through this . It becomes a sponge and water sits there resulting in grass going black , and moss creeps in again.
Now is the time to aerate , that will solve the compaction and open up the soil to allow better water movement , and ideally top soil to get some organic material in to the root zone, this will help improve the soil structure and encourage root growth by getting air into the soil .
A healthy open soil will support good grass growth , and now is the time to consider applying a soil tonic to get all those micro organisms reproducing and building soil fertility .
July also seems to bring the ants out – all of a sudden our nice flat lawn appears to have mumps , you can physically try brushing the surface with a hard broom to disperse the mounds and try using one of the Nippon ant killer products , they have a treatment that can be diluted and watered on , easy to use and not so unsightly as the powder .