The continual wear and tear caused by many thousand pairs of feet and the vagaries of the British weather (cold spring, hot summer and heavy downpours) mean that by September the lawns are in need of a little pampering and so we treat them to a routine of autumn turf care. It’s important to spend some effort on the lawns now because they need to have time to strengthen and establish a good root system before the winter. Thus prepared, as soon as spring and the new growing season arrives the grass will be able to take full advantage of this head start.
The autumn regime of turf care consists of removing thatch and aeration, these will both allow air into the new shoots and roots, encouraging deeper root growth and reducing soil compaction.
The process of removing the thatch is known as scarifying. We do this using a machine that drags out any thatch from within the lawn. On a smaller, domestic lawn this job can be carried out just as effectively with a rake. The removal of this dead material invigorates the lawn and minimises the risk of fungal disease in warm, damp autumn weather.
To aerate the lawns we have a series of machines which effectively perforate the lawn surface. One machine has a series of spikes which penetrate the lawn and remove small cores of turf at regular intervals. A second machine consists of rotating blades that produce slits in the surface to a depth of 8cm – 10 cm. A third machine is used for the most compacted areas, this consists of a long spike that is inserted into the ground to about 45cm and injects compressed air into the soil.
Any areas that have suffered excessive wear and tear will be re-turfed during the autumn. It is beneficial to perform this task at this time of year so that the new turfs can root through before the winter.
The lawns are then over-sown if necessary, an autumn fertiliser, high in potassium and phosphorus, is applied to help produce root growth and healthy leaves. The final job is to close off the lawns until next spring to give them a complete, well-earned rest.
Wendy – Assistant Head Gardener