The next few days will see high temperatures, grass is already under stress due to the last few weeks dry weather , so if you can water please do so – your lawn evaporates at least 1/4 an inch of water per week when actively growing and you need to top the soil moisture up BUT DON’T OVER DO IT
As we head into Autumn it is vital that you continue to cut the grass on a regualr basis – and keep it free from fallen leaves . Different species of trees will shed their leaves at different times – Oak being the last as it can often hang on to those leaves until early December, so clearing them up on a regular basis is an ongoing task . Leaves contain lignin which makes them robust – the content in some species is higher and this makes them slower to decompose , and left on the grass they can act as a blanket which smothers the growth and can kill the grass before the leaf has broken down.
We are also likely to see a reduction in ant activity – but worm activity will increase – watch out for those worm casts and brush them off the lawn before cutting , if you don’t walking over them or rolling them with the mower will result in muddy patches which will also suffocate the grass.
Chaffer grubs are also very active now and if you strip away the grass turf under the surface you are likely to find the little white grubs that will chew grass roots . This is Crane Fly time of year – or Daddy Long Legs as they are some times reffered to – they lay the eggs in the lawn that turn in to Leather Jacket .
- The RHS give the following information on Leather jackets
• Leatherjackets have elongate tubular bodies, up to 30mm long, and are greyish brown. They have no legs or obvious head
• Lawns develop patches where the grasses turns yellowish brown and often dies. This can be distinguished from similar effects caused by lawn diseases or adverse growing conditions by lifting the affected turf and finding leatherjackets in the surface layers of the soil
• Leatherjackets may also be revealed in lawns by soaking with water and covering with material impervious to light, such as black polythene. The following day if leatherjackets are the problem, large numbers of grubs should be found on the lawn surface under the cover
• Crows, magpies, rooks and starlings will search for leatherjackets in turf. These birds leave small round holes in the turf where they have inserted their beaks.
In addition to bird activity – the biggest pest we can face is Badgers who also look to feed on chaffer grubs and leather jacket . As a protected species we can not do very much to them – the only defence is to manage the lawn to deter the pest and to ensure that badgers can not easily access your garden. Easier said than done, it is remarkable how many there are in Hertfordshire , you might think you are not going to see them on a residential estate, but many new homes are being built on what was once open countryside , and Hertfordshire is actually still quite a rural county with pockets of woodland and open spaces.
Some people have had success with putting chilli powder down to deter them – and male urine , but not sure if that is fact based or just gossip.