This time last year we were seeing record temperatures for both September and October. No such thing this year, but it's been good for the lawn if you're keeping on top of the mowing!
Summary of this month's tasks:
Check the mower is in good order - you should have been doing a great deal of mowing this year. Blunt blades tear leaves, encouraging disease.
October is your last chance for any serious renovation or scarification. The sooner the better with soil temperatures and daylight on the decrease. Have you considered why your lawn has struggled with this year, the causes of this and a remedy?
October is the first month in which you will be noticing a serious slowdown in growth. The average soil temperature is greatly reduced with some cold nights, daylight is shorter, and the strength of the sun now weak. Most lawns will require cutting every 10-14 days now dependent on exact location and conditions. You may wish to remain with weekly mowing however if it's hoovering up your leaves!
Given the plants are struggling for light a little, certainly don't be mowing the lawn any closer than you already are. If the lawn is under stress, lift the blades a peg. Somewhere around 25-35mm would be a good place to be over the winter months.
The time is almost upon us. If you have recently renovated and have new grasses coming through then hold back a little to spare them any harm. Aside from that, there is little 'bad' aeration. There are many options in terms of tines that could be utilised for a lawn. If your lawn is small enough to take a fork to then by all means go for it. If your turf is a little too big from that it might we worth dropping us a message - far cheaper and less effort than going to a hire shop!
Be very careful! Autumn demands specialist fertiliser. The grass doesn't want that leftover summer product you have in the garage, it doesn't have the conditions to use it. Forcing weak, soft growth is a recipe for fusarium disease which is at its most devastating when temperatures are at 0c - 8c... maybe not too far away now overnight in a cold snap. Remember that our professional products are vastly superior to that of DIY if you wished to start on a lawn care plan.
Scarification, over-seeding, top-dressing
Get a move on! The second half of the month is only suitable for light scarification unless you're in the south east of the UK. If you're planning to seed your own lawn, do the proper preparation work first to avoid throwing money at your garden with poor results. No lawn and renovation is the same, but make sure you're utilising a heavy duty scarifier, not a 'lawn rake' type machine for your scarification. Seed will not germinate in a thatch layer, only soil, and must have good seed to soil contact - that doesn't mean throwing seed on the surface!
If top-dressing, heavy scarification and maybe aeration also is important. The top dressing that you're about to get down could be nothing like the current soil profile, so needs to be integrated into the surface to avoid a soil pan.
If you're not scarifying, there shouldn't be a requirement to water the lawn.
If renovating, a good soak to depth before seeding is the ideal. The existing grasses and the new seed alike with have an instant supply of moisture and there will be less requirement to flood your hard work for the first few days. Water is vital for any plant and grass is no different. Daily watering if there has been no rainfall is key to a quick recovery.
Now is normally a good time for some hedge trimming - making sure the lawn can make best use of the light it requires, but do mind the area is free of nesting birds. If you get this done before mowing then a rotary mower should help you to clear up the smaller debris.
Keep an eye out for area of disease. Red thread is the most common in lawns. It enjoys mild to warm, damp or wet conditions where the leaf of the plant has remained damp for a period of time - it's the grass catching a cold. If you've aerated and are mowing regularly the lawn should look after itself. A light feed high in K along with the above maintenance practices will set things right.