Important jobs for the lawn after the hot, dry summer

HOT, DRY summers like the one many of us have experienced this year leave lawns looking far from their best.

Care for and feed your lawn in autumn to help it survive winter and come back strongly next spring

Care for and feed your lawn in autumn to help it survive winter and come back strongly next spring

Frazzled, brown grass, bare patches, and a flourishing of moss and weeds will probably all require action.

Early autumn is the best time to give your lawn a bit of a pick-me-up, while the weather is still wGive your lawn a pick-me-up afterarm enough for the grass to respond before the growing season ends.

By mowing, raking, aerating and feeding, you can prepare your lawn for winter dormancy so it will grow lush and green next spring.

Raking, or scarifying, reduces the levels of thatch – old grass stems, dead moss and other detritus – which can hinder the penetration of water and feed if allowed to build up. Scarify vigorously using a spring-tined rake but take care not to go too deep as this can damage turf.

Aerating or spiking a lawn with a garden fork improves the circulation of air and water around the roots and helps the grass cope better with drought and waterlogging. Concentrate on areas that are compacted or receive heavy traffic, and aeriate every two or three years.

AS the days shorten and grow cooler, the rate that grass grows slows. Continue mowing until the temperatures drop to the level where grass stops growing. Raise the level of your mower blades and remember to keep them sharp and in good condition.

Applying a top dressing mix of loam, sand and well-rotted manure helps correct surface irregularities and boost soil condition and grass vitality. The top-dressing mix is three parts sandy loam, six parts sharp sand and one part compost or leafmould by volume. Once applied, work in well with a rake.

Correct lumps and hollows by flattening with a roller. Alternatively use an edging iron or spade to slice through the turf before carefully rolling it back. Fork over the underlying ground and add or remove soil as needed. Replace the turf, pressing the edges together, and water thoroughly.

To finish off, feed with an autumn supplement that is high in phosphates and potash which will help strengthen roots and leaves. Some, such as Westlands Autumn Lawn Feed and Moss Killer, will also combat unwanted moss. If your area has been subject to a hosepipe ban, wait until it has rained before starting work.