Monty Don's September lawn care tips are just what you need if your lawn is showing the strain of summer use. September can be a wonderful time in the garden. For Monty Don, it's one of his 'favourite times in the garden', not least thanks to soft autumnal light and the opportunity to take stock of the year's harvest.
But September is also the perfect time to give your lawn some much-needed TLC, according to Monty. While summer is the perfect time to learn how to mow a lawn, early autumn is the time to do some maintenance and repair any damage done by heavy summer use. These are the essential September jobs Monty recommends for lawns in his blog (opens in new tab).
1. Repair patchy grass areas
Even with light use, after a whole summer, you're likely to start seeing bare patches on your lawn. According to Monty, 'if it is just a worn area of thin grass', the repair method is quite simple: 'rake away all thatch and moss and remove all weeds and thinly scatter grass seed, watering well and keeping it damp.' Grass is a fast-growing plant and will 'germinate and grow in days'. However, Monty stresses that it's very important not to mow a lawn that's been filled in this way for at least a month.
'But I'll end up with patches of overgrown grass', you may wonder. The solution, says Monty, is to clip any 'unsightly' bits with garden shears. The best gardening tools are sometimes the more traditional ones, especially when you're just tending to one area.
2. Reseed your whole lawn if necessary
If you have multiple areas that have worn thin, it may be time to learn how to seed a lawn. Monty's main tip is to 'clean the edges with a sharp spade, fork it over to remove any compaction and either scatter with seed or cut a piece of turf to fit, making sure that the edges are butted tightly against the existing grass.' This works either over a large area or over the whole lawn.
Again, Monty emphasizes that it's very important not to walk on or mow this fresh turf or reseeded area – and you'll have to resist the temptation to mow even longer. 'Depending on the weather, this may mean leaving it uncut until next spring', Monty writes. It may feel odd to put away the best lawn mower you bought recently so early in the season, but your grass will thank you for it.
3. Aerate to improve your lawn
Finally, Monty recommends aerating the lawn as part of autumn gardening. He says doing this task is good 'even if your lawn has come through this summer unscathed'. A small lawn can be aerated with a garden fork – simply work the tines 'into the ground at 12 inch intervals.' Alternatively, 'for a larger lawn, hire a rolling hollow-tine or slitter. Ideally this is followed by working sand into the holes they create with a stiff brush.'
4. Thatch the lawn
Thatching is the process of removing any dead organic matter that builds up around the roots of the grass. Typically these are the roots and stems of weeds and rhizomes, which are root-like stems of plants. Monty's top tip for thatching is characteristically hands-on and involves giving the lawn 'a thorough scratch with a wire rake'. Don't worry if the lawn ends up looking 'a little threadbare' once you're done thatching – 'next spring your lawn will be rejuvenated for this autumnal working over.'