A healthy lawn can be a great source of enjoyment for you and your family, and has the added benefit of making your home look appealing and well cared-for. Proper lawn maintenance is key to achieve that lush, green lawn we all covet, and fall is the time to get your lawn in order so it will winter well and be green come spring. Here’s how!
- Fertilize. Your lawn may have gone dormant after a long, hot summer, but cooler fall weather will get it growing again. Starting in September, your lawn needs two important feedings to help it recover from summer damage and strengthen roots. Do the first feeding in late September to early October, and the second in November when you do the final mow of the season. This will ensure an early spring green up and a healthier lawn next year. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended rate of application for fertilizer.
- Mow. During the fall season, you should adjust your mower down so grass is cut shorter (3 inches or less). Shorter tops make it easier for the roots to survive winter stress and encourage your lawn to green up faster in the spring. For the final mowing of the season, cut your grass as short as possible without scalping it.
- Aerate. After a while, the top layer of soil may become hardened and compacted, making it difficult for your lawn to thrive. Aerating removes small plugs of soil from the lawn, loosening the soil and improving drainage. Aeration also improves your lawn’s ability to absorb nutrients from fertilizers, resulting in deeper roots and greener foliage.
- Water. Your lawn does not need as much water during cooler, wetter fall days. If you live in an area that gets a good amount of snow over the winter, stop watering around the end of September or October, when your lawn goes dormant. If you live in a humid climate that gets sun year-round, curb your watering to once or twice a week for 20 minutes.
- Control weeds. One of the best things you can do for your lawn is to treat weeds in the fall. When night temperatures fall below 60 degrees consistently, it’s time to apply pre-emergent herbicides for annual weed control. Pre-emergent herbicides should only be applied on well-established lawns that have been in place for at least one year. For perennial weeds such as dandelion and clover, apply a post-emergent herbicide in fall.
- Sample the soil. Every to two to five years, depending on local soil composition, take a soil sample to monitor the pH and nutrient levels of your soil. Your local extension office will offer soil testing services. If your lawn needs treatments to adjust the soil, they should be applied in the fall to support good spring growth.
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