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
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