The weather is noticeably cooler and the leaves are starting to fall. Summer is quickly coming to an end and so is lawn maintenance season… right? Not quite! Fall is the perfect time to do some last minute preparations so your yard is ready for spring. By investing a little time before winter sets in, you can guarantee a lush, green lawn once the weather warms up again. Check out these next steps to take care of your lawn this fall.
- Continue To Mow. Your grass will continue to grow until the first hard frost so don’t put away your lawn mower just yet! Continue to cut your grass to a height of 2-1/2 to 3 inches. Leaving your grass any longer than this can cause it to mat which can lead to fungus and mold. Cutting any shorter than this can damage the root system to the point that it can’t tolerate the winter cold and dryness.
- Continue To Water. Even though there is more rain and dew in the fall, it’s usually not enough to keep your plant roots hydrated and healthy. Your grass needs at least an inch of water per week. If you’re not getting that much in rain, etc., keep your sprinklers and irrigation system running until the end of October. Then you can disconnect your hoses and flush your irrigation system so the pipes and spigots don’t freeze over the winter.
- Rake The Leaves. Contrary to popular belief, leaving a layer of leaves over your lawn doesn’t insulate it over the winter. The leaves, in fact, will block light from getting to the grass and trap moisture underneath which can lead to disease and fungus and kill your grass. Blow or rake the leaves as often as you can – or – mow them and reuse the clippings as a nutritious mulch for your yard!
- Aerate The Soil. Aeration should be done regularly – once every couple of years. Aeration prevents the soil from becoming compacted and covered with thatch (a thick layer of roots, stems, and debris). Thatch blocks water, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching the soil. The best practice is to aerate your soil right before you fertilize so the fertilizer goes straight to the plant roots where it is most needed.
- Fertilize. Fertilizing not only protects plant roots from freezing in the winter cold but also gives them a boost of energy so they can bounce back in the spring. It is best to fertilize in 2 steps: Apply a weed and feed first so you can kill weeds and nourish your lawn at the same time; then apply a 2nd feeding about 6 to 8 weeks later to give your lawn the last bit of nutrition it needs to store energy for the spring.
- Overseed Your Lawn. Overseeding is is the planting of grass seed directly into existing turf, without tearing up the turf, or the soil. Overseeding not only fills in thin spots and bare patches but also makes your lawn denser which helps protect against weeds. Fall is the best time for overseeding because the ground is still warm, moisture is plentiful, the nights are cool, and the sun is not as hot during the day.
- Clean Out Your Flower Beds. Fall is the perfect time to clean out your flower beds before spring planting. Clean out the remains of any old annuals, dried stems, and other debris. This not only helps keep destructive pests away but also helps prevent the spread of disease and fungus. Cut perennial stems to within an inch or 2 of the ground.
- Clean Your Tools. Once your fall lawn preparations are complete, it’s time to put your tools away for winter. Make sure to clean them before you store them to prevent rust. Perform any maintenance on your mower after the last cut of your yard before you store it away for winter also.
- Check Your Gutters. Falling leaves are a big culprit of clogged gutters and downspouts. Clean out any leaves and debris from your gutters before winter sets in. Inspect for damage and make sure downspouts are pointed away from foundations. Consider installing gutter guards to eliminate the hassle of cleaning your gutters in the fall.
If the thought of getting all of these chores done before winter sets in seems overwhelming, we can help! Contact Northwest by filling out the form below or giving us a call for a Free Lawn Analysis!
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.