The end of summer doesn’t necessarily mean the end of lawn care. While most people look forward to stowing their lawnmowers away for the winter, fall is actually the ideal time of year to prepare your lawn for spring. The cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall make this the best time to give your lawn the TLC it needs to be healthy and green in the spring. What can you do to make sure you have the best looking lawn on the block? Check out these 7 tips for fall lawn care:

1. Carry On As Usual

Grass will continue to grow until the first hard frost of the year. Continue to mow and water as usual. Lawns should get at least 1 inch of water per week. Use sprinklers/irrigation systems until the end of October. For the last 2 cuttings of the year, use the lowest blade settings to mow your lawn. This allows the sunlight to reach the crown of the grass and causes less brown leaves in the winter. Leaving the grass at this height also provides insulation against the harsh winter elements.

2. Fertilize

If you only fertilize your lawn once per year, the best time to do it is in the fall because this is when grass roots and rhizomes grow quickest. Fertilizing in the fall provides nutrients for the roots to grow deeper and allows them to retain these nutrients for spring. It also replaces nutrients lost during the hot months of the summer. The best time to fertilize is early September and then once more 6-8 weeks later. Be sure to keep at least a 5 foot buffer between your fertilizer and any water sources.

3. Control The Weeds

September and October are the best months to control weeds, including dandelion and clover. Weeds thrive in the fall, just like your grass does. They are also looking to absorb nutrients to store for spring. Treating with a weed killer in the fall allows the weeds to absorb the herbicide and die off and they won’t return in the spring.

4. Aerate The Soil

Aeration should be done once every few years. Aeration prevents the soil from becoming compacted and also helps remove thatch. Thatch is a thick layer of roots, stems, and debris that blocks water, oxygen and nutrients from reaching the soil.

5. Rake The Leaves

As much as we hate to do it, this is a vital part of maintaining a healthy, lush lawn. If you have a large yard, you can also use a mower with a bag/vacuum system to get rid of leaves. However you choose to do it, leaves should be removed as soon as they start falling. If you wait until they have all fallen off the trees, they will be wet from rain and dew and matted together. This can suffocate your grass and also cause fungus and mold to grow which can be detrimental for your lawn.

6. Fill In The Bald Spots

Grass grows better in the cool temperature of the fall. Planting in the fall also gives your grass all winter long to germinate and grow. This allows the root system to develop more slowly and deliberately than it does in the spring.

7. Keep It Clean

Clean your tools before you hang them up for the winter to prevent rust. Winterize your lawnmower and other lawn care tools. Store lawn furniture, toys, etc. that you don’t use often during the cold winter months. If objects are left on the grass during the cold winter weather and snowfall, it can leave large dead spots because of the weight of the objects. Put them away for now and bring them back out in the spring.

If you take the time to care for your lawn properly during early fall, your grass stands a better chance to be healthier when springtime rolls around. If this seems overwhelming to you, or you just don’t have the time to invest in prepping your lawn for winter, don’t stress! A lawn care professional can not only give you a free lawn care analysis, but also provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan to make sure your lawn remains green and healthy.