As the cool, crisp weather of fall approaches, it is important to remember that our lawns need attention, too.
Fall is the best time to seed your lawn.
Whether you are starting a new lawn from scratch or re-seeding your existing lawn, fall is the best time to seed. Since grass is actually a cool weather plant, it will germinate and grow better with early fall rains and cooler temperatures. Most of our favorite turf grasses take 14 to 28 days to germinate, so seeding in August or September is perfect!
When planting grass seed, there are a couple of keys to success. The first is good seed to soil contact. That means taking a few minutes to rake up leaves, excess grass clippings and any other debris that may have found its way onto your lawn.
Once you have cleaned up the area you want to seed, you’ll want to put down a good starter lawn fertilizer. A starter fertilizer will provide the nutrients needed to grow healthy root systems and help the grass fill in quicker.
And we can’t forget the water! The newly seeded area needs to be kept moist but not soggy in order to germinate. In fall, we typically experience a lot more natural rainfall but in the absence of rain, be sure you’re watering.
Fall is a great time to core aerate your lawn.
Over the course of a year, the soil in your yard can get compacted. Compacted soil makes it harder for oxygen, nutrients and water to penetrate the soil. With core aeration, plugs or “cores” of soil are removed from the lawn (usually with a lawn aerator), improving the lawn and soil’s overall health.
Feed Your Lawn in Fall.
Many of us purchase multi-step lawn programs in the spring. We’re usually pretty good about applying the first three steps. The final step, however, is usually the most missed or ignored step. A fall/winterizer lawn food is extremely important to the health of your lawn. The grass roots will continue to take up nutrients, which the winterizer provides, through late fall and early winter, leading to a healthier lawn next spring.
Fall is also a great time to treat weeds.
During the fall, all plants including weeds are trying to absorb as many nutrients as possible down to their roots so they have “something to eat” during the winter months. Fortunately, the weeds don’t know the difference between “good” food and “bad” food. A weed killer sprayed onto weeds or other unwanted plants, is absorbed through the leaves then translocates to the root system where it basically kills the weed or plant. As always, protect any desirable plants from drifting spray.
Adjust the height of your lawn mower.
In the late spring and summer months, we want our grass to be a bit longer, to protect the plant’s roots and keep them cooler. As we roll through fall, start lowering the deck of your lawn mower until your grass is about 2 inches tall. This helps protect the grass from folding, mold and disease under winter’s snow.