Bah! Autumn lawn care.

I’ve just spent days hauling heavy lumpy bits of equipment around and raking and shovelling and generally getting rather tired all in the interest of the annual lawn maintenance. Yawn.

A few weeks ago I used an autumn lawn fertiliser (low nitrogen so as not to encourage lots of soft green growth just before winter) and then this week set to doing the hard bit. First MsV and I scarified the lawns which necessitates lots of raking up of the resulting loose thatch, grass and bits. Then I hauled a heavy hollow tined aerator around which is like a hyper driven apple corer and takes little cylinders of soil out to allow air down to the grass’ roots. All these soil cores need to be raked up of course because for some unknown reason the aerator doesn’t collect the bits itself. Lunacy. And then we spread 4 tonnes (or do I mean tons – worryingly I don’t actually know) of topdressing over the formal lawns consisting of 1/4 fine topsoil and 3/4 sharp sand, which should work its way down into the holes left by the aerator and help to relieve compaction and improve the soil. This required more raking action to spread about and work in.

If I never see another rake again it will be too soon. Oh well, it’s all over for another year and at least this week has been really rather pretty.

Tulip tree and lawn in early autumn.

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17 responses to “Bah! Autumn lawn care.

  1. I am with you. I detest raking of anything.

  2. I was just wondering about aerating in the fall… and what to rake into the holes. Thanks for the info!

    We are trying out mowing the leaves into the lawn. It keeps raking to a minimum. I am not sure about the nitrogen it may steal while it begins decomposing, but it must break down fairly quickly since it is in tiny bits. But, I am not really a lawn purist anyway… we have begun seeding white clover as a filler in the shadier spots.

  3. This is why I was so happy to get rid of our grass – although it now seems as if I might need to put it back. Well, not the same grass, which was basically field grass…

  4. I don’t mind raking autumn leaves – but last week had just way too much raking full stop!

  5. Goodness me – you have really gone for it on the lawn care front.

  6. Moss! Get a moss lawn. No raking, no mowing………
    I forgot, you can’t do that. The weddings would object!
    I don’t envy you, Libby. Trying to keep an English lawn going must be hell. I thank my lucky stars I could never have one, even if I tried.

  7. I’m not much of a lawn person, but how green and lovely. It’s one of the vicarious pleasures of blogging getting to see the manifestation of other people’s hard work. Hope you got a nice hot bath!

  8. You can mow up to 18″ of leaves and leave them on your lawn, and it beneficila–I wrote a post on it with a video: http://carolynsshadegardens.com/2010/11/18/shade-gardening-in-fall-leaves-on-the-lawn/. Also I have never heard that you have to clean up the plugs from the aerator. They just break down and act as more organic matter and help the lawn. Of course, I don’t care what my lawn looks like.

    • The aerator bits look a right mess, get squished back into the holes and onto the surface of the grass and get stuck to everyone’s feet! I’d love to leave them but it’s not an option 🙂 I do often mow in leaves, and it seems worth doing. Leaves mostly get raked from paths and where they’ve heaped up, or where they’re in the way of the rotary mower which doesn’t deal with them particularly well (don’t ask me why).

    • The link from your blog to the vid isn’t working – I’d be interested to see it. 18″ of leaves seems a little unbelieveable to me. How can that avoid smothering the grass?

  9. I just posted about mowing leaves into the turf today: http://wifemothergardener.blogspot.com/2011/11/fall-gardening-task-5-mowing-leaves.html

    We have not had any problem with it smothering the grass in the past two years, and that was with a very deep, wet pile of leaves in the shade.

    The article I site says that at 18′ there are a “few remnant leaves visible the following spring.”

    Maybe this will save your back some aches next year? It is quite the leap, but definitely worth trying!
    Julie

  10. I just posted on mowing leaves into turf today: http://wifemothergardener.blogspot.com/2011/11/fall-gardening-task-5-mowing-leaves.html

    We have been mowing them in for a couple of years and have not had any problem with smothering. The article I site says that at 18′ there are “few remnant leaves visible the following spring.”

    Hopefully this can help your soreness next year! It is quite the change, but is worth a try on a small scale at least.
    Thanks!
    Julie

    • I have to admit while I’ve always mown some of the leaves in, since your reply I’m doing it much more – thanks for that! We have a mulching mower so it does chop them up very small. I think I’d still have to remove (or spread about) a heavy coating because it would be visible.

  11. Pingback: Bye bye 2011 | The Sproutling Writes

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