Fall is usually the time of year when homeowners start to prepare their lawns and gardens for winter. It can be a busy month for gardeners, as harvests may still be coming in and many additional home maintenance tasks take up precious weekend time.
If you have a grass lawn you also know that there are many tasks that should be done to prepare the lawn for a cooler winter. Follow these tips for successful fall lawn care and maintenance.
1. Rake the leaves
If your seasonal fall brings a lot of fallen leaves, use them to your advantage.
Depending upon how many leaves you get you may simply want to rake them up and put them in a yard waste bin. Or you may want to add them to your compost pile or work them into the soil of your yard for added nutrients.
If you have a lawn mower you can run over the leaves on your lawn, creating tiny leave pieces that can easily be left on the lawn itself as an organic fertilizer.
Just make sure you don’t leave wet, soggy piles of whole leaves on the lawn as it can suffocate growth and contribute to an unhealthy lawn.
Regularly removing the leaves as they fall is the best way to stay on top of this annual task.
2. Decrease watering
Depending on fall weather, you may need to continue to water your lawn.
Cool season grasses are still growing in the fall and they may not actually need additional irrigation.
3. Aerate and overseed
Cool season lawns should be aerated and overseeded in the fall.
Some experts recommend doing this the same weekend each year, such as Labor Day weekend, as September is an ideal month for this task.
A core aerator removes small “plugs” of grass and soil and helps lawns receive more oxygen, sunlight, seed and fertilization.
After aerating a cool season lawn it’s a great time to overseed the area and add the fall fertilization.
4. Fertilize and feed
Fall is a great month to fertilize a cool season lawn.
Cool season grasses use the fall months to recover from the heat and growth of the summer and may need a good dose of nitrogen.
The exact fertilization requirements should be determined by conducting a soil test to see what nutrients the soil is lacking.
Making sure your lawn has what it needs to stay healthy (and keep weeds at bay) is very important, especially if you desire a nice green lawn next spring and summer.
5. Mow and edge
Cool season grasses are still growing in the fall months but probably won’t require as much mowing or edging as the summer months.
Your cool season lawn may just need mowing once every couple of weeks; never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade height.
6. Weed and control pests
Cool season grass usually doesn’t require traditional weed or pest control in the fall months.
However, cool season grasses are sometimes susceptible to moss and fall may be a good time of year to apply moss killer.
Fall is here in a big way! It’s been days since we have seen the sun and the temperatures have dropped like an anvil. However, I am sure we will still have some nice days before the snow starts to fall, after all we still have a lot of leaves to pick up.
Anyways, if your already looking forward to spring, here are some fall lawn care tips you can do now to have a healthier lawn next spring.
Mow often, removing no more than one third the total height. Leave these short clippings on the lawn. They will quickly break down, adding organic matter, moisture and nutrients to the soil.
And as you mow you can take care of all those fall leaves at the same time. Shred the fall leaves and allow them to remain on the lawn. As long as you can see the leaf blades through the shredded leaves your lawn will be fine. And just like the clippings, they add nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
Fertilize your lawn with a low nitrogen, slow release fertilizer. University research has shown that fall fertilization is the most beneficial practice for home lawns. Less disease problems and slower weed growth means your lawns – not the weeds and pests – benefit from the nutrients. Fall fertilization also helps lawns recover from the stresses of summer because it encourages deep roots and denser growth that can better compete with weeds and tolerate disease and insects.
Weeds often gain a foothold in the lawn during the stressful summer months. A healthy lawn is the best defense. Even with proper care weeds can bully their way into the lawn. Try digging, root and all, to remove small populations of weeds. Weeding can be a great tension reducer and physical workout.
If this isn’t possible, consider spot treating weeds or problem areas with a broadleaf weedkiller. Whether using traditional or environmentally-friendly products read and follow label directions carefully. All these products are plant killers and can cause damage to other plants if not applied properly.
Fall, when the lawn is actively growing, is the best time to core aerate or dethatch lawns suffering from thatch build up or compacted soil. Thatch is a layer of partially decomposed dead grass plants that prevents water and nutrients from reaching the grass roots. Use a dethatching machine to remove thatch layers greater than one half an inch. Or core aerate the lawn to create openings in the thatch layer and help reduce soil compaction to encourage root growth and allow water and nutrients to infiltrate the soil.
Overseeding your lawn in the fall helps increase thickness and improves the overall health and appearance of the lawn. For best results, overseed directly after aerating.
Begin implementing some of these strategies and soon you’ll be on your way to a healthier, better looking lawn for the coming growing season.