It’s a common myth that grass grows slower in the fall and doesn’t require as much maintenance when actually the opposite is true! In the fall your lawn is busy absorbing moisture, nutrients, and energy as it prepares for the long, hard winter that’s around the corner. Whether you live in an area where the winters are mild or an area where your yard stays covered in a blanket of snow, preparing now will help you reap a lush, green lawn in the spring. Check out these 10 tips for fall lawn care.
Get Rid Of The Leaves
Leaves are no good for grass. They not only block the light from reaching your grass blades, they also trap moisture underneath them which can lead to fungus. Blow or rake your leaves as often as you can. Don’t wait until all the leaves have fallen before you get rid of them. It might be too late as fungus may have already set in.
Don’t Stop Mowing
Grass will continue to grow until the first hard frost of the year. The ideal height for your grass is 2-1/2″ to 3″ tall. If your grass is too long it can mat and leave your lawn vulnerable to fungus. If your grass is cut too short it can damage the roots and leave your lawn unable to tolerate the winter cold and dryness. Mowing will also get rid of any leaves that may have fallen and they can even be left behind as a nutritious mulch for your yard. Make sure to drop your mower blade to the lowest setting for the last 2 cuttings of the year.
Don’t Stop Watering
Even though fall storms bring more rain and the cooler temperature means more dew on the ground in the mornings, this is still not enough moisture to maintain the hydration your lawn needs to prepare for winter. Grass needs at least 1″ of water per week. You can measure this with a simple rain gauge. Make sure to keep your sprinklers or irrigation system running until the end of October to make sure your lawn gets the hydration it needs.
Aerate The Soil
Aeration should be done on a regular basis – once every couple of years. This prevents the soil from becoming too compacted and helps prevent thatch. Fall is the perfect time to aerate if your lawn needs it, especially before you fertilize. Aeration allows oxygen, water, and fertilizer to penetrate the soil and easily reach the grass roots, helping build up its energy and nutrient supply before the harsh conditions of winter.
Apply A Fertilizer
If you only fertilize once a year, fall is the perfect time to do it. Fertilizer protects your grass’s roots from freezing and gives it the energy it needs to bounce back in the spring. Fertilizer should be applied in late fall, preferably after you aerate your lawn. Make sure you leave a 5′ buffer between your fertilizer and any water sources nearby.
Seed Your Lawn
Fall is a great time to overseed your existing lawn. Overseeding not only helps protect against weeds but also fills in any thin spots or bare patches you may have. Fall is ideal for overseeding because the ground is still warm, there is plenty of moisture, the temperatures are cool at night, and the temperatures aren’t as hot during the day.
Control The Weeds
Fall is also a good time to fight back against any weeds that may have taken over your yard. Weeds go into energy absorbing mode in the fall just like grass does. Apply an herbicide in the fall so the weeds will absorb it and won’t return in the spring.
Keep Off The Lawn
Fall often brings more rain so your yard may be oversaturated with moisture. Walking on wet lawns can compact the soil, keeping the roots from getting important oxygen and nutrients. Stay off the wet lawn as much as possible. Don’t rake leaves when your lawn is too wet as you run the risk of pulling up the grass by its roots.
Clean Up For Spring
Before you put your tools away for the winter, make sure to clean them to prevent rust. Perform any winter maintenance that’s needed on your mowers and other lawn care machines. Put away your patio furniture, cushions, and grills, making sure to clean them before storing them. Fall is also a good time to check your gutters. Clean out any debris to prevent clogs before the fall rains. Consider installing gutter guards so you don’t have to climb a ladder to clean your gutters.
Call A Pro
It can be hard to get each one of these tips done at the right time in the fall. Consider calling a professional that you can delegate some or all of these tasks to. A lawn care professional can provide you with a free lawn care analysis, set you up on a lawn care service schedule, fertilize, control weeds, and even provide pest control.