Tips for a lush winter lawn

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With the clocks restored to GMT and the nights fair drawing in, most people have completed their gardening chores for this year. Over the next few months, our gardens will effectively go into hibernation, as they (and we) look forward to warmer spring days to come.

It might surprise you to learn that now is the perfect time to start preparing the grassy areas around your home for next year. Some lawn maintenance is specific to warmer seasons, and we’ve previously outlined best practice in a separate blog earlier this year. However, achieving a lush lawn also requires preparation and planning in November and December. These may not be the most conducive months to be outside, but wrapping up warm before breaking out the garden tools one last time should lay the foundations for a happy and healthy lawn next year…

Cut the grass and clear any obstructions

As deciduous trees go bald, their leaves tend to settle on grass. Sweep or blow leaves and twigs away, so any winter sunshine can reach the turf. It’s a good idea to perform a mid-November mow with your lawnmower on its highest setting, snipping the tops off each blade to achieve a uniform height. Don’t cut grass too short at this time of year (you’ll weaken the roots) or leave it too long (light won’t be able to reach the bases, which may turn yellow).

Carry out aeration

Heavy rain of the kind we’ve endured recently causes soil to condense, meaning plant roots can’t access as much oxygen. That’s especially true of clay soil, which dominates the central belt of Scotland. Hollow tine aerators remove plugs of soil to give roots more room to breathe, though a garden fork and a bag of grit can achieve similar results in damp conditions. Delay intensive scarification work until the spring, as it could damage a hibernating lawn.

Give the lawn a winter feed

Grass flourished long before gardeners started caring for it, but a little assistance now could go a long way towards achieving a lush lawn next year. Dedicated autumn/winter lawn food helps to strengthen grass roots before frost and snow descend, while it also kills the moss and red thread competing for soil nutrients at this time of year. A wheeled lawn spreader helps to achieve consistent feed coverage, but don’t rake up moss until it’s died and turned black.

Tackle bare sections

The autumn months can be brutal for lawns, with weeds competing for soil space while heavy tread exacerbates bald patches. The traditional method of treating bare lawns involves grass seed and fertiliser, though you could buy turf and cut it to size. Avoid walking on new grass until you can’t see the join with established sections of lawn, and don’t forget to water it. Cold temperatures don’t necessarily bring rainfall, and grass still needs moisture to thrive.

Address wider garden maintenance

Lawns are part of a wider ecosystem. Water will run off concrete or tarmac paths onto grass, potentially causing localised flooding, while blocked ground drains or gutters could do the same. Ensure water drains away safely before frosts and ice arrive. Remove weeds whose roots might steal nutrients from nearby grass, cut back bushes which stop even weak winter sunshine from reaching the lawn, and neaten edges with a strimmer, spade or edging iron.

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