With fall just around the corner, right now is the best time to do some lawn maintenance to ensure that you have a thick, green and healthy turf in the spring. In our article ‘Keeping Your Lawn as Beautiful as a Ballpark’ we explained that autumn and spring are the best times to plant new seeds due to the moderate temperatures. It’s important to avoid drastic temperature changes that will shock the seeds and prevent growth. So, let’s have a look at five common lawn care mistakes you should avoid if you want your grass to be green and lush.
Not raking up leaves
A common mistake is to get complacent and not rake the leaves shortly after they’ve fallen from the trees. While a carpet of colourful autumn leaves may look nice and be fun to play in, it can be deadly for your grass. Moisture and rain will make leaves stick together and form an impenetrable mat that will block light and prevent nutrients from reaching the roots. Even worse, it could trap moisture and promote fungal growth, which will eventually kill your grass. Ensure you rake the leaves as they fall throughout the season so that your grass can stay healthy.
Mowing too short
Many homeowners cut their grass as short as possible to avoid frequent mowing. However, it removes the energy-producing top growth and curtails the root system, impeding its ability to withstand the winter cold. Popular Mechanics explains that you should never trim more than a third of the grass leaves. So, if your mower has adjustable cutting heights set it as high as possible. If not, it might be time for a new one. The electric and petrol lawn mowers featured on Screwfix shows how most models come with adjustable cutting heights that range from 25mm to 76mm. Not cutting your grass too short will also allow it to grow thicker and prevent weeds from growing.
Not watering enough
A common mistake homeowners make is to let up on watering in the fall thinking that rain will provide sufficient water for their lawn. But in order to keep the roots of your lawn well hydrated and deep, the recommended amount of water is about 2.5 cm per week. Frequent but shallow watering will only promote shallow roots and make the lawn dependent on you for watering. You want to water your lawn infrequently but deeply, to encourage strong, healthy roots, and green, lush blades of grass. A simple rain gauge is a useful way to keep track of the amount of water your lawn gets.
Not aerating the soil
Soil compacts from foot traffic, so water, oxygen and nutrients have a harder time getting to the roots of your lawn. Regular aeration, every two years or so, will prevent the soil from becoming compacted and covered with thatch. You can use a manual or powered core aerator to punch holes through the ground and pull up plugs of soil. Aerating should be done when the ground is moist and before you fertilise. A common mistake is to aerate when the soil is dry and hard, which prevents the aerator from penetrating deeply. Fall is the best time to aerate as temperatures are still mild and there’s enough moisture in the ground.
Using the wrong kind of fertiliser
Homeowners often get impatient and use high-nitrogen quick-release fertilisers to grow their grass faster. While this provides the nutrients, your lawn needs right away, it will also cause rapid deterioration from the soil through the leaching of nitrates. Moreover, if over-applied, they can burn your grass. Using organic, slow-release fertilisers help release nutrients slowly to feed the grass while promoting soil health. The list of commercial organic fertilisers on Better Homes and Gardens, include natural ingredients like cottonseed, alfalfa, and seaweed mixed with animal sources like manure from cows, chickens and horses.