28 August - prepare for autumn and winter

We may feel cheated out of a decent summer this year, but autumn and winter are not far away and now is a good time to make sure that everything is ready for lawn renovations, autumn clear ups, boiler firings and snow clearance.

Lawns Prepare for autumn renovation. Areas that have been subject to heavy wear in the spring and summer may be looking tired and thin. Weeds - from dandelions and daisies through to annual meadow grass - may also have established while the grass has been under stress. Remove them if they cannot be tolerated in those locations. Spike worn areas, water, feed and weed. Source and order new turf and/or appropriate grass seed for use on any areas that are badly worn. Check the blades and tines on scarifiers and aerators and order replacements for any that are damaged or missing. Finalise plans for new grass areas.

Autumn preparations Now is a good time to check over equipment needed for autumn clearance work. Inspect the condition of sweepers and vacuum collectors, paying attention to brushes and zippered bags, and seek spare parts if necessary. Stock red/white incident tape ready to rope off any areas subjected to gale damage. Check brushcutters and chainsaws and update staff training or ensure a list of local, qualified and approved contractors is to hand.

Greenhouses and conservatories Check heating systems are in full working order. If necessary, book a service for the boiler, thermostats and control systems. Ensure piping is lagged where it should be and insulation materials are ready to use. Make sure those tender plants that have been outdoors can be brought inside quickly. Stock up on hessian sacking, bubble polythene and anything else needed for wrapping up the more tender subjects that have to stay outdoors throughout the year.

Ready for snow While in the planning mood, it may be as well to look ahead to the possibility of ice and snow. Inspect spreading equipment, make sure shovels and brushes are in good condition and check the prices for early ordering grit and de-icing compounds. Remember to have coolants checked and changed or topped up as needed in all vehicles required in winter.

Records Update varietal records with notes on yields, quality and resistance to pests and diseases so that information is to hand when ordering next year's seeds.

Sally Drury, Technical editor

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