With fall upon us and winter rapidly approaching, you're probably not spending much time thinking about your lawn. But fall,with its cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall, is the ideal time to prepare your lawn for next spring.
Many homeowners think lawns need less care in the fall because the grass tends to grow more slowly. But in fact, just the opposite is true. During fall the grass is busily absorbing energy, moisture, and nutrients in preparation for a long, dormant winter. By giving it a little attention now you will be rewarded with a lush, healthy spring lawn.
KEEP ON MOWING Continue to mow your lawn, as needed, throughout the fall. Then as the season draws to a close, drop the mower's blade to a lower setting for the last two cuttings of the year. That will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass, and there will be less leaf to turn brown during the winter.
*Remember As you lower the the mower not to trim off more than one-third of the grass blades at any one time. If necessary, gradually lower the cutting height until the time of the final two cuttings.
AERATE THE SOIL Fall is also an ideal time to aerate your lawn so that oxygen, water, and fertilizer can easily reach the grass's roots. The self-propelled aerator will quickly punch holes into the soil and extract plugs of dirt.
RAKE THE LEAVES Raking leaves is no one's idea of fun, but it's important to remove fallen leaves from your lawn. Don't wait until all the leaves have fallen from the trees to start raking, the leaves will become wet from rain and morning dew, stick together, and form a mat that if left unmoved will suffocate the grass and breed fungal diseases.
FERTILIZE FOR FUTURE GROWTH If you fertilize your lawn only once a year, do it in the fall. Why the fall? Grass blades grow much more slowly as the weather turns cool, but the grass roots and rhizomes continue to grow quickly. (Rhizomes are roots that lie just beneath the soil's surface that produce the blades of grass above) A fall application of fertilizer delivers essential nutrients for the grass to grow deep roots now and to keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy start in the spring.
FILL IN BARE SPOTS Fall is also a great time of year to fix any bare spots in your lawn. The easiest way to do this is with an overseed of grass seed, a special quick-starter lawn fertilizer, and/or an organic mulch then water thoroughly, and continue to water every other day for two weeks.
WEED CONTROL If weeds like dandelions have taken over your lawn, now's the time to treat them. Weeds, like most plants, are in the energy-absorbing mode during the fall. They're drinking in everything that comes their way. Apply an herbicide now and the weeds won't return in the spring.