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gardening: Top tips to perk up your lawn.

Byline: By HANNAH STEPHENSON

DOES your lawn look bedrag gled, with patches of thatch, moss and pernicious weeds you just can't seem to control?

Many lawns suffered over the long, hot summer, although grass does tend to recover when the autumn rains come. With a little TLC now, your lawn could be the picture of health by next year.

If bald patches have developed, scuff up the soil with a fork and sprinkle grass seed over the top, cover it lightly with seed compost and water it regularly.

If your lawn edges are broken or scruffy, cut out a large square (with the broken edge one side) and turn the turf around. Firm the broken edge, filling any broken patch with topsoil, and re-seed the broken edge or bare patch which is now not on the edge of the border.

Many people discover lumps, bumps and humps in their lawn, and if you can't bear pushing the mower over them you can fix them properly in autumn.

Don't try to skim the hump off with the lawn mower - you'll simply put pressure on the machine and kill the top layer of grass, leaving an unsightly bald patch.

Similarly, don't be tempted to flatten an existing bump because you will compress the ground so much its won't grow.

Instead, do the job carefully, skimming off the turf with a sharp spade. Level the bump, leaving a square of soil with a flat, even surface about an inch below grass level, then replace the turf.

If you have hollows in your lawn, provided they aren't too deep you can top-dress them a few times between spring and autumn with a mixture of topsoil, compost and sand or ready-made turf dressing to rejuvenate the area.

Only sprinkle about 5mm of the top dressing each time and you will slowly fill the hole.

If you have a big hole in the lawn, don't be tempted to simply lay new turf over old because it won't root easily over existing grass. Instead, aerate the existing grass in the hollow with a garden fork, fill the hollow with topsoil until the surface is level and re-seed.

Other important jobs for autumn include scarifying the lawn, which involves using a spring-tined rake to scrape off the dead grass, clippings and moss which gathers at the base. Once you've scarified the lawn, run a mower over it with a box to collect clippings and loose matter.

Pick a day when the ground is soft to aerate your lawn to stop soil compaction and help drainage. Take a garden fork and spike the lawn at 15cm intervals to a depth of around the same. Fill the holes with sand if you have heavy soil to help drainage.

And don't forget to top-dress the lawn to give it a boost - the mixture of topsoil, sand and compost depends on the state of your soil.

dates for your diary

TUESDAY David Ryland, of Cumbria, gives a demonstration called Fatal Attraction to Llangollen Flower Arrangement Society at The Hand Hotel, Llangollen, 7.30pm' Richard Lewis gives a talk called Your Garden in Autumn to Argoed Gardening Club at Argoed community centre, 7.30pm

Send events to the contact addresses on page 2 of the main paper

what to do this week

Watch out for vine weevil on your greenhouse plants

Leave tomatoes on the vine until the weather turns. Then bring them inside and place in a brown paper bag in a drawer to ripen

Plant out hardy primulas raised from seed or divisions

Lift gladioli corms carefully, cleaning off any soil, for storage

Give privet hedges their final cut of the season and collect seeds from perennials and alpines

Continue to prune peaches to remove all shoots that have carried fruit, then tie in new shoots

Continue to water beans and courgettes to encourage more fruits and pods to form and ripen

Plant up pots for winter interest including heathers, variegated euonymus and dwarf conifers

Continue to gather autumn leaves to make into leafmould.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 23, 2006
Words:673
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