It’s well-known among turf care professionals that giving your lawn some fall care is the best way to keep it green and thick in the spring.
Here’s a seven-step guide to a beautiful lawn next season.
Fall Lawn Care Tips
Take the leaves out
Although a carpet of autumn leaves can look great and be fun, they are not good for grass. They block light and trap moisture which can lead to turf damage.
When the leaves start to fall, blow them off or rake them as much as possible. Continue raking the areas where the wind has piled leaves up, even after the trees have fallen. If you don’t do this, when spring comes, the grass beneath that soggy, decaying mat is dead.
Continue to cut, but at the right height
You shouldn’t forget to put the mower away. The grass will continue to grow until the first hard freeze, so you’ll need to cut it regularly to maintain a height of 2 1/2 to 3 inches. It can become mattifuge if it is allowed to grow too long.
Too short a cut is equally bad. It reduces the root system. Root depth is proportional with cutting height. This also hinders lawn’s ability and endurance to winter cold and drought. Regular mowing removes those annoying leaves by chopping them up and leaving behind soil-enhancing mulch.
People tend to stop watering as the weather cools down in the fall.
Although it is true that there is more rain, dew and evaporation during this time of the year, that may not be enough for the grass roots to stay hydrated and healthy into winter.
A simple rain gauge can be used to track how much water your lawn gets each week. The sprinklers and irrigation system should continue to run until October. To avoid freezing pipes and spigots, disconnect the hoses at that point and flush your irrigation system.
You can loosen the soil
Frith recommends that soil be aerated at least once every two years to prevent soil from becoming dense and covered with thatch. Thatch is a thick layer made up of roots, stems and other debris that blocks water, oxygen and nutrients from reaching the soil.
Core aerators correct both issues by drilling holes in the thatch and pulling up soil plugs.
Fertilizer should be added
The grass roots require water to survive winter. They also need a boost of plant sugars to keep them warm and healthy. These sugars are made by chlorophyll which grass produces when there is enough nitrogen.
It is recommended to apply a slow-release granular 24-0-10 fertilizer in the late fall. These numbers show the respective percentages by weight of potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen.
Potassium is important because it helps in root growth, drought tolerance, disease resistance, and cold resistance. A soil test will tell you how much each nutrient is needed for your lawn.
You should also avoid spreading fertilizer near waterways. They are susceptible to contamination by runoff.
Frith states that dense lawns are good for weed control. This is why it is important to seed over existing turf. This will fill in any bare spots or areas that are lacking in nutrients. It also allows you to introduce drought-tolerant, resilient grasses.
Because the ground is still warm and moist, the nights are cooler, and the sun isn’t as intense during the day, fall is the best time for over-seeding. Over seeding can be a difficult chore even if the weather is good.
It is impossible to just sprinkle seeds on an existing lawn and expect them grow. They must be in direct contact with the soil until they germinate and kept moist until then.
Although renting a slit sawder is better than broadcasting, they are known for breaking up turf and leaving your lawn looking like it was harrowed.
Keep to your schedule
To get the best results, each step must be taken at the correct time. It’s a waste of effort. If you over-seed too soon, the seedlings won’t be able to survive.
Fertilize too soon and your grass will grow tender blades. This will make it more susceptible to the cold. Fertilize too late, and the grass roots will not be able absorb all of the nutrients you are feeding them.
Are you thinking about spring aeration because it is impossible to do so this fall? Don’t bother. Spring aeration makes it easier to establish weed seeds.
A lawn care service is available to help if it’s difficult to stick to the fall schedule.
These machines are usually the ones that need to be rented heavy machinery, such as core aerators or slit seeders. They are difficult to transport and can often be hard to find at rental yards.
You will enjoy a lush green lawn next year by delegating one or two of these chores to a professional during busy seasons.