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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.