Monthly Garden Maintenance Tips
Need some advice for your garden? We have a tip which you can start putting to use, right now!
Being one of the coldest months of the season; there is not much in the way of grounds maintenance to be done. Mainly, try to keep people off the grass areas if there is a frost to prevent damage and keep the area clear of fallen debris.
This is the perfect time to get the mower & other tools out and give them a service or speak to your nearest dealer to get them to carry out the service for you. If you are the one who services the machine yourself then be sure to check everything over now and find any possible problems while the machine / tools are not in use.
Make sure that the cutting blades are sharp and not pitted, belts are not worn or shiny / fraying, cables move freely with no fraying, add a little oil down its sheath as well, filters are clear or not due for change via hours of operation & lubricants are changed and topped up as required. It’s best that all this has been done in this first part of the season so check the operator manuals if you are unsure or drop the machine into your local dealership.
The more TLC given to the tools & machines now should equal less downtime later on in the busy season.
Again; carrying on from January, there is very little to do in early February so continue to service and prepare your equipment while you have the time.
If there is a moss problem then it’s about now to start looking to tackle it before the growing season starts. Use a sulphate treatment in recommended doses from February to March. This can then be a big help to lawn health in later months.
If the frost is holding off towards the end of the month and the lawn area is not saturated you might even be able to get in a quick scarification to asist with the moss removal.
The sun is on its way and things are warming up. If you have nothing to do to your machines/tools then you are now ready for the season ahead!
The grass/shrubs & boarders now have growth and you have some nice new shiny or ready-to-go serviced bits of kit just waiting in the wings.
Before jumping in for the lawns first cut (April for most but some areas could see first cuts in March) think about a quick aeration to remove compaction and help with drainage. This will also help carry any feed etc down to the soil and into the roots.
Before the machine hits the lawn make sure you set the mower cutting height as high as possible and only take the top off. This will be better for the lawn long term and will stop the yellow look which can often be seen after the first cut when you try taking the height down to low. This will also help to prevent openings for weeds/moss to take root.
Try to keep the first cut away from overnight frost which could damage freshly cut lawns and leave a blackened tip to the lawn leaf.
If you have been treating the lawn for moss in January or February; then now would be a good idea to apply some spring fertiliser to give the lawn a good feed and help recover healthier top growth ready for food production. A high in nitrogen feed of spring fertiliser is best.
This will give a nice green look to the lawn but don’t over-do it! This can cause too much top growth and weak roots which will eventually leave a tired lawn behind and will start going very patchy.
If due to frost /little growth or saturation in the lawn you could not get the first cut in, then April will definitely be your month.
As in March; remember to keep the first few cuts high and slowly drop over time to you lower height of cut.
If the moss treatment has left patches it’s also the best time in April to sow new seed. With warmer temperatures and plenty of moisture – it’s the perfect conditions for germination.
The more you do now the better the result later.
So you have your moss problem dealt with and the machines are running well from the service. Good, because now the grass should be really growing!
It’s about now that you’re going to be reducing the height of cut to get down to the final level and the machines will be working flat out to keep up.
Don’t forget to keep your tools and machines clean and clear of plant debris and sap etc. This will weld itself onto the cutting decks and blades which will eventually affect the quality of cut given and the collection capability.
It’s also about now with the grass growing you will also see the weeds doing just as well if not better; so now is the time to break out that selective weed killer. Its personal preference, but most advise not to use a ‘weed n feed’ all-in-one as some taproot weeds will only have the top killed off by the herbicide whilst actually feeding the remaining taproot creating an even strong weed which will come back with a vengeance so leave out the feed for now and just deal with the weeds.
As with the work in May; you should be in the full cutting swing of the season. Keeping the tools clean and clear of any debris will help the machines work better which will get you a cleaner finish.
If the herbicide has done the trick from May then brilliant; but if not you might need a second treatment just to finish off the stubborn leftovers. But remember to stick to the recommended dose for the area and watch out for wind transfer around boarders and shrubs.
If treating hard standing areas with non-selective residual herbicides; don’t make the mistake of many and use the short cut over the lawn to get back, you will return to the lovely lawn in a few days time to see nice size 11 black foot prints showing the path you took which will be difficult to over-seed for weeks and the herbicide will still be around.
Summer and the sun is shining (we hope). Your over the lush spring booming growth and found your feet again. Everything is running smooth (again we hope)!
Keep up the regular cuts and maintenance around the garden and start to enjoy the lawn you’re starting to see emerge.
Its worth remembering that engines on machines need an oil change more than once a year so its well worth taking five minutes one night to change the oils and give things a good small service. Again, check your main wear components – just to try and catch the problem before it actually catches you. While doing this you may havefound that with the raging sun beating down; ground has started to dry up and areas are getting more dusty than muddy.
With more dust comes another problem – breathing.
All engines, just like us, need to breathe. To prevent dust and debris clogging the engine up or causing damage to hydraulics we fit air filters.
Check to make sure these are not full of dust and keep them clear. If you have high-lift machines be sure to wash off the rams (if using compressed air or a pressure washer then direct away from the cylinder seal which is the part where the ram enters its housing). No seal is 100% closed and micro particles of dust will entre through here so keep it as clean as you can to prevent hydraulic problems.
As the ground is drying up; it might be that you need to water the lawns/boarders. If we are lucky and are currently receiving record numbers of clear blue sky sunny days in double figures then it is best to water later on in the evening to prevent scorching of leaf-material.
It’s also about now to start thinking of any scarifying you may be wanting to carry out again which will help the root zone of the lawn and remove the layer of thatch which builds up over time. This will allow any feed you plan to do to now reach the soil base and penetrate down to the roots better.
If you missed the chance to get a little service on the machines done last month, then might be worth trying to find the 5 minutes to change out the oil and check blades etc.
Autumn is just around the corner and the garden is looking at its best.
You can really see the hard work paying off and all you have got to do is keep at the regular cuts. It might also be worth thinking of lifting the height of cut towards the end of September while you have a nice vigorous growth as this will help during the winter months.
It’s worth starting to plan for the autumn now in good weather so things like aeration to help remove some of the compaction caused from the traffic of people and machines moving over the area and help drainage is a good idea before the rain hits.
The temperature is dropping and growth is, or should be, slowing which means only one thing – autumn is here.
It’s imperative that all leaves and debris are removed from the lawn as soon as possible because you want every bit of energy the lawn has to go into root production and not trying to push its top growth up above the layer of leaves to get that last bit of good sun.
If left; you will end up with patches ripe for moss and weed growth and a yellowing of the lawn which would be a shame to waste all your hard work at the last hurdle of the year.
It’s also worth a thought to drainage if you missed it in September. A good aeration and top dress will help with this and alleviate some of the compaction caused through the season with foot traffic and machine wheels etc.
While on the subject of machines, your mower is going to be very well worked by now and depending on the hours per week you have put on it; you might want to think of another oil change and another good clean off. You may also think about fitting a new blade ready to help clean up some of them leaves falling.
It’s also a good time to get that autumn feed high in phosphorus and lower in nitrogen out and ready to go on. This will be a boost to the root development of the grass and will aid the lawn in lasting the winter.
The winter is close and things are winding down now. Ideally, the height of cut would be somewhere close to what it was in the first cuts of the season letting the grass take in as much sunlight as possible helping to strengthen the roots ready for the hard frosts ahead.
Your lawn feeds are done and your machines are getting ready for their few months of rest. You’re probably finding the time between cuts is getting longer but keeping the lawn clear of leaf debris and other fallen objects is still very important.
So the winter is here and the grass growth is being measured in mm per week now. You should be left with a nice full lush lawn which is fighting fit ready for survival in winter.
So the winter is here and the grass growth is being measured in mm per week now.
You should be left with a nice full lush lawn which is fighting fit ready for survival in winter.
There is almost nothing left for lawn care other than the odd bit of debris which has fallen from trees etc in the wind, so as these months pass other than maybe the odd cut hear and there be sure to work round the frost as your top growth on the lawn is very fragile and can be damaged easily if stood on.
You and your machines have worked well to achieve what you have this year but there is one more thing you must do with your mower or any other tool being packed away for the winter alongside it’s clean up etc. and that’s drain the fuel.
99% of problems repair shops get in spring with machines not starting are bad fuel which has gone off. YES, fuel has a best before date – just like food; and once it’s turned it’s no more use than putting water in your petrol tank.
Drain off all tools/run them dry and use up any left in cans as well so everything is empty if it’s not being used within say a week.
You can then have one last thing to worry about when spring finally arrives.
It’s also a good idea to be proactive and even get ahead of the game with service’s to the tools – especially if you take them to a dealership as you will now have a couple of months to get them in and back before the mad spring rush and we all do this again next year.
After all this is done; relax a little, pat your self on the back and then begin the next big rush of the season ……. Christmas shopping!
We wish you a very merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.