I think we can safely say that it has been a damp summer which has seen some of the summer displays being a bit of a washout. In fact I am starting to take down some of my baskets and strip some on my planters where the blooms are now over.

And have you noticed how the nights are cutting in? There is a definite autumnal feel in the air. Still, if we do have some dry weather, there are plenty of gardening tasks to be done.

One is the autumn lawn care. I think lawns are something we take for granted in the garden and in many senses the unsung hero of the garden. When a lawn is well maintained and edged it pulls the whole garden together.

So what do we need to do to ensure we have a good lawn that can overwinter and look great next spring and summer? Well whatever we do we need a dry spell. Firstly, give it its last cut on its normal cutting height, then leave for a couple of days or so. If you have a few weeds these can be manually removed with a sharp knife to cut out the weed growth and its roots. If you have quite a few weeds, apply a lawn weedkiller.

Secondly, apply a lawn moss killer. You can get combined lawn weedkiller and moss killer which can be applied at the same time. This normally comes in a dry, granulated form which you scatter across the lawn – in a few days you will see the weeds dying back and any moss turning black.

At this stage, it is time to scarify the lawn to remove as much dead moss and lawn thatch as you can using a springbok rake on small areas (if you have a large lawn then use a motorised scarifier). Set the tines so they lightly scratch the lawn surface. You will be surprised how much thatch and moss comes out of the lawn! I would also suggest scarifying in two alternate crossing directions to maximise thatch and moss removal. You can use the lawn mower to run across the lawn to pick up the arisings from the scarifying or using a brush.

Following this it is time to spike the lawn using hollow or solid tines – hollow tines remove a lawn core whereas solid ones punch a hole into the lawn. With hollow tines you will need to brush up the cores which can be added to the compost. Punching holes into the lawn is to help drainage, and this can be further improved by applying horticultural sand as a top dressing and brushing the sand into the holes (builders’ sand is of too fine a grain and will actually prevent drainage – horticultural sand is grittier).

If you have any bare patches you can overseed with a suitable lawn grass seed at this point. Make sure you get the right one for your lawn. Generally, you will find two types: fine turf which contains fescue and is non rye-grass mixture which provides a lawn similar to a bowling green, though it is not hard wearing. The other mixture tends to be of an amenity mixture which generally contains rye grass, which is good if you want a hard-wearing lawn for animals and children – amenity lawn mixtures are what you see on sports fields and estate verges. You can also get lawn seed mixtures for shady areas, ideal if you have trees or hedges growing by the lawn.

After completing all these lawn tasks, you can help the lawn to prepare itself further for over winter by applying an autumn/winter lawn fertiliser mixture (most of these will also contain iron which will help to control moss growth).

All these lawn care measures will help to improve and strengthen the lawn for the forthcoming winter, however, if you notice parts of the lawn holding water or has boggy patches, then this is a sign of drainage problems which may require installing of a drainage system or installation of soakaways.

I would also suggest that as the lawn will continue to grow over the winter (albeit at a much slower rate), when you can, and when the weather allows it, keep the lawn topped by cutting at the highest setting on the mower. Not only will this keep it looking tidy, it will also make spring lawn care a little easier.