Gardening In October… Autumn is on its way!

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The lawn is a key feature in any garden, some I see are manicured and immaculate others a more functional green carpet for children to play on. Whichever your preference, there are important jobs to do over the next month. 

The lawn is essentially a collection of individual plants (grass plants) which happily grow together and can stand being cut to the ground every week or so during the growing season. I don’t know of many plants that will survive the relentless punishment that lawns suffer and yet it is often the part of the garden that is most neglected. Left without care and a little cultivation lawns understandably begin to fail and a sure indication that you are not looking after your lawn is the invasion of nasty’s, weeds, moss and fungal disease.

Start with a wire rake, scratching the surface to remove the build-up of grass that forms as a result of grass clippings and dead leaves accumulating over the cutting season. This is known as thatch and can be removed quite easily, it’s a great job on a slightly chilly day, all the arising’s can be put on the compost heap. If your lawn suffers with moss or is a little waterlogged in places the first thing to try is aeration, to improve drainage. Spike the lawn with either a garden fork or Hollow tined Fork, it’s also a good idea to brush in topdressing of finely sieved compost and sand, this is generally available from larger nurseries and garden centres, and along with an autumn and winter fertilizer can prepare the lawn for the winter. Unlike spring and summer lawn fertilizers, autumn feeds encourage a strong root system and ripen the grass reducing the impact of soil pests and fungal diseases.

It is not too late to repair bare patches by either turfing or seeding. Carefully prepare the area concerned breaking up the soil so that the roots will establish. With turf be careful to firm it well and make sure it’s finished level is the same as the surrounding lawn. For seed I like to start it of in my greenhouse, a handful of seed mixed with four handfuls of slightly damp compost and placed in a black polythene sack will start to germinate in ten to fourteen days, depending on the weather.

Check daily and when you see a small root about two millimetres (1/8th inch) carefully spread the mixture over the prepared area. A handful of seed should be enough to cover an area about half a square metre. Starting the seed off in this way stops the birds eating it.

It’s a good time of year to prepare climbing roses for the winter, long new shoots that have emerged over the summer months should be tied in to stop them being damaged by the wind, and fading flowers weak or spindly shoots can be removed, cutting back to an outward pointing bud or to the main stem. The main pruning for climbing roses is in spring when we prepare the framework for the summer ahead and I will explain this in a future article.

Next month we will deal with, preparing new planting areas, pruning and moving shrubs.

Happy gardening,


York Gate Garden is owned and maintained by the charity Perennial (Gardeners Royal Benevolent Society) which provides advice help and support in times of need or difficulty for people who are working in, or have retired from any of the gardening trades. (Registered Charity no. 1155156).

Opening times and further details can be found on our website at www.perennial

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