Fun Fall Container Gardening
I love the autumn – comfortable temperatures, beautiful skies, fresh dew in the morning….I could go on, but let’s talk lawns! You see, your lawn loves autumn too. Whatever type of summer you’ve had, autumnal weather is really well suited to grass and will see a revival in your lawn’s growth. And now, with fewer garden chores to do, is a great time to brush up on some good mowing techniques – maybe even get a little creative. Your reward will be the joys of a deep lush green carpet when much else in the garden is fraying at the edges.
If it doesn’t stop growing then don’t stop mowing! This applies to all the seasons of the year, but especially the autumn. Why autumn? Because after a hot summer when the grass struggles to put on any length at all, it is all too tempting to let it go wild and enjoy unchecked growth as the conditions mellow. But don’t!
Mowing – good mowing, with a sharp blade – is good for the grass. Yes, you must only cut one third of the current length at any one time to ensure you don’t remove all the food stored in the leaf; but cutting actually helps the grass to grow better – and in the way you want it to, sideways.
Grass is remarkably resilient and, given any chance at all, it will grow. So by controlling its vertical growth, you actually encourage it to grow horizontally, thickening out and filling back any thin patches. By contrast, letting it recover from a hot summer by leaving it uncut will simply give you uneven and straggly grass. And all the energy needed for good sideways growth goes instead into the height that you then cut off, good for the compost heap but not much help to the grass!
We usually earmark mid-winter for the annual mechanical overhaul of the mower, but I recommend you check its condition right now too. The most important thing is to have a sharp blade. Anything less will tear the grass, causing unnecessary stress to the plants. But you can also give the underneath a thorough clean to remove any dried cuttings (a job really for after each mow). You want a really clean, hygienic cut through the strong autumnal growing season – we don’t want to create stress with the cold winters ahead.
If your mower has a roller, you may need to shake up your mowing pattern a little. Always following the same route and direction of cut can be unhealthy for the grass, creating a ‘grain’ effect. So instead try alternating the direction of cut each time, and you will have a more balanced and even result.
I find autumn a really good time to evaluate the shape and contours of the lawn – especially if it leads to easier mowing! As you continue to enjoy the pleasant rhythms of mowing, ask yourself if those corners could be easier to negotiate with a gentle curve instead of a right angle; notice if there are any turns that require a particularly sharp swing of the mower. And if so, don’t be afraid to redesign these trouble spots to make life easier for you and for the lawn too.
Above all, however, enjoy your autumnal mowing! It’s a bit of quality time where you can still enjoy the hands-on garden experience long after finishing all those other post-summer jobs.
David Hedges-Gower is the UK’s leading lawn expert and has more than 36 years of lawn and turf experience. Professional grounds people, landscape specialists, commercial property developers and leisure gardeners – have benefited from David’s enthusiasm and knowledge.
David is a National Trust advisor and was formerly advisor to Homebase, he is a regular on BBC Radio and a favourite on the national horticultural lecture circuit.
David’s fantastic new book on Modern Lawn Care extends his love for and knowledge of the topic. This is the first comprehensive and authoritative guide to lawn care for over 40 years!
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