Grassy areas are there to be enjoyed, but over time, activities like walking and playing cause the soil surface to become compacted.
If your lawn has endured lots of wear from play, parties and general use throughout summer, it’s a good idea to aerate it in autumn (even if you did this back in spring). This is especially true for heavier clay soils, which often show telltale bare patches – these are classic symptoms of compaction.
Aerating the ground helps the soil to breathe and, when done before fertilising, ensures that the nutrients are properly absorbed and go straight to work.
The basic technique involves using a large garden fork, sinking the prongs in about 5cm deep, and working across the lawn in rows (space your rows about 15-20cm apart). If you have a large lawn to cover, you can also hire a spiked roller to do the job. Alternatively, if you’re planning to also top-dress the lawn with fresh soil, you could hire a coring machine – these remove small cylinders of grass and soil.
Autumn is also your last chance to feed grass before winter sets in. Use a general purpose granular lawn food, sprinkling it either by hand or using a fertiliser spreader, then water in well.