Taking care of the Lawn in October
The mowing season will be drawing to a close now, and the height of cut should be raised by up to 2-3 cm (1 in) to allow the grass to build up strength for the winter.
This can begin again after the summer weather has turned. Up until this point the soil is usually too dry, unless you have proper facilities for watering the turves in really thoroughly. Otherwise they will turn brown as the roots dry out and probably perish.
The ground should be prepared at least one month in advance so that it has time to settle after digging. By now, it should simply be a matter of raking the surface to incorporate a pre-seeding fertilizer, and to create a fine and level tilth. Always buy turf from a reputable supplier, cheaper turf is often thin and full of weeds.
Once the turf has arrived lay it as soon as you can to prevent it from deteriorating. The correct way to lay turf is in the pattern of brickwork. Be sure never to allow it to dry out though, and never use a roller to squash the turves into place. If the turves need that sort of treatment, either they are extremely poor quality or you are doing the job incorrectly.
This is raking the lawn as was carried out in March, but now it will get rid of the old dead grass, moss and rubbish that has collected there during the summer. If allowed to remain, this will quickly form a waterproof thatch on top of the soil that will prevent rain from reaching the roots in the summer. If you have a small lawn then hand-raking will do. This will be much harder work for a larger lawn, where it is best to use an electric scarifier.
Spiking is another job that should, if necessary, be done at this time of year as well as in March. Spiking will correct any compaction in the surface so that water can drain away properly and air can circulate right down to the roots. It is seldom necessary to spike the whole lawn. A garden fork will do a perfectly adequate job in all but really bad cases of compaction, when a hollow-tine spiker is more appropriate. Aim to spike in rows with holes 10 cm (4 in) apart and make the holes 10 cm (4 in) deep.
After spiking, the compacted areas will benefit greatly from a top-dressing of sifted soil or soil mixed with fine sand. Brush it well into the holes and the sward and apply a low nitrogen fertilizer dressing, to strengthen the grass for the winter.
Moss can be an indication that something is wrong with the lawn and the way it is being looked after. Any number of factors can be responsible for this, such as: drought, poor drainage, starvation, compaction, close mowing, erratic mowing, and heavy shade to name but a few.
Moss can be removed by the application of a proprietary moss killer (not one mixed with fertilizer and/or weed killer). A fortnight later, the dead moss can be raked out.
Next page >> Managing Trees and Shrubs in October >>
Bulbs for October
Bulbs that flower in October include:
Canna (Indian shot)
Colchicum (autumn crocus)
Nerine bowdenii (cape flower, Guernsey lily, Japanese spider lily)