September is an important month in the garden when sowing new lawns and planting bulbs should be prioritised. Now is the time to plant daffodil, crocus, snowdrops and dwarf iris bulbs. It’s also the month to get hyacinths planted under cover for early colour, choosing specially prepared bulbs for early blooms. Spring cabbage should also be planted out during September.
A new lawn
September is a much-favored month for sowing a new lawn, as the ground will be moister with a greater amount of overnight dews and also warmer due to the accumulated heat of the summer. Starting a lawn from seed is less expensive than turfing and there is a wider range of seed mixtures for specific conditions available from seed than from turf. Seed can be stored until conditions are ideal, whereas turves may deteriorate if they are not laid within 24 hours of delivery. Germination should occur within seven to 10 days and the new lawn will have established before the first frosts.
Choosing the correct mix of seed: There are many different seed mixtures available to gardeners, which can sometimes be confusing. Bear in mind what you need from your lawn.
Seed for a ‘general-purpose lawn’ is often sold as a No.2 mixture. It will be more hardwearing and is suited to gardens that are going to be used by children, pets or have high traffic.
A ‘fine lawn’ is usually sold as a No.1 mixture. It is a mix of fine leaved turf grasses.
These lawns will not tolerate heavy wear and tear so would not be suitable where children or pets are going use the lawn a lot. These mixtures will usually be a blend of chewings fescue, strong and slender creeping red fescue and browntop. The resulting lawn will be very fine in appearance, slow growing and you will be able to mow at a low height.
‘Shady lawns’ will tolerate light to medium shade, such as under trees and next to fences or hedges. Most of these mixtures contain hard fescue, strong and slender creeping red fescue and browntop, which are all fine-leaved species. So shady lawns are usually not very hardwearing.
Get a good reputable brand of seed from a reputable store or garden centre. Make sure use fresh seed. Store seed in a cool, dry place.
Sowing the lawn: Good seedbed preparation is the key to establishing a successful lawn. Get rid of all weeds and cultivate the surface to a fine tilth.
Preparing the seed bed: Eliminate perennial weeds such as scotch grass, bindweed, docks, nettles and thistles. Do not use a residual weedkiller, as it can remain in the soil and will prevent the grass from germinating. Dig or rotovate the site to a depth of 20-25cm. Dig in well rotten manure if your soil is light. After cultivation, leave for several days to settle. Remove any weeds that have germinated. Rake in different directions to ensure a level surface. Apply 70g of general organic fertiliser prior to planting.
Seeding rate: High quality lawn: 30 g per sq.m; General purpose lawn: 20-25g per sq.m
Lightly rake over the sown areas to cover the majority of the seeds with soil. If the weather remains dry for two or three days water gently with a light, fine sprinkler.
If dry conditions persist, repeat watering as necessary while the seeds are germinating and the young lawn is becoming established.
Aftercare: When the seedling grasses are about 5-7.5cm in height lightly refirm the soil with a garden roller or the rear roller of a cylinder/rotary mower.
Two or three days later cut the grass down to one-third of its length. Ensure the blades are really sharp.
No further mowing is usually necessary until the following spring.
Use the lawn as little as possible in the first season.
During September next season top-dress with sieved compost to fill in any irregular surfaces.
Feed the lawn in spring with a good organic lawn fertiliser.
Watch out! Birds can eat seeds and may disturb the seedbed by dust bathing. Try using bird tape to repel the birds.
Weeds: Perennial weeds are best eliminated prior to and during seedbed preparation.
Remove weeds by hand or use a hand trowel or fork.