When the warm summer season starts receding and the leaves start showing signs of changing color, you know that fall is coming, and the temperature is going to get cooler. That means it’s time to take care of your lawn. You can search for “landscape companies near me” and hire professionals to prepare the lawn for the fall season or use the following tips to do it yourself.
Tips & Tricks
- Fertilize cool-season grass – If you talk to lawn-care professionals about fertilizing cool-season grass, all of them would recommend you do it during the fall season. If you live in an area with cold winters, that period usually ranges between October and November. Spread the fertilizer before the grass blades start discoloration as the temperature starts to drop.
When you feed your turf during the fall season, it allows the grass to store more food in the roots and fuels blade development. That food reserved in the roots is crucial for the grass to survive through the winter season and a quick recovery when the snow melts and spring arrives. You may need to contact your local extension office to figure out fertilizer timing for your region.
- Adjust the mower height – There’s no need to scalp warm-season grass like Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia, and centipede as fall arrives. Raise the mower height by half or 1 inch during the fall season. This allows you to mow down the grass while increasing leaf area. When grass blades are able to capture more sunlight with the increased leaf area it leads to more food storage in the roots. Your lawn would also expand and become denser. This helps to bring down the number of weeds that can establish themselves on your lawn when the grass is dormant.
- Eliminate weeds – When the fall season arrives, it also invites henbits, dandelion, and other perennial cool season weed activity. That’s why you need to stay ahead of them and treat your lawn with a pre-emergent herbicide by early fall. This prevents seeds that dropped on the lawn during the summer season from sprouting out during the cooler fall season. Doing this also helps to reduce the number of weeds on your lawn in the next spring season.
- Rake leaves – During early fall and throughout the rest of the season you need to be on top of your raking game. Don’t allow fallen leaves to pile up on your lawn for more than a few days. Otherwise, the grass blades would be damaged. Even if they are not damaged, if you have active turf that is still in its growing phase, their growth would be stunted.
That’s because the fallen leaves would prevent sunlight from properly reaching the grass blades. This won’t just affect blade development, but also reduce the amount of food grass can store in its roots. Apart from that, dry and dead leaves are also good at trapping moisture. They also attract pests and critters. That’s why it’s important to keep your lawn free from dry and dead leaves.
- Refill bare spots – Bare spots are nothing new and aren’t something you should be panicking about. They can be corrected or fixed by simple seeding. When you seed a bare spot with cool season grass it would establish itself by sinking roots and grow very quickly. Just make sure to keep that area free from dead leaves and water it regularly during the growth phase.
- Stay off the grass that’s too wet – If you get heavy rainfall before or during the fall season, the soil would be full of excess moisture and have a weak structure. Just a little bit of pressure would be enough to compact the soil and sink it down. Stay off your lawn during this time. Don’t step on it or rake it. Otherwise, you risk pulling off the grass by the roots.
- Aerate the soil – Grass should be aerated when it’s in its most active growth phase. For warm season grass, that period ranges between late spring and early summer season. On the other hand, fall is the perfect time to aerate cool-season grass. So, if you have cool-season grass on your turf, this is the right time to aerate the lawn. Aerate at least four weeks before the frost hits your area. Otherwise, the grass won’t have any time to recover and grow before winter. It’s best to spread fall fertilizer on the turf after you’ve aerated your lawn. This speeds up recovery greatly.
- Mow down leaves on your lawn – If you compost in your backyard, it makes sense to rake leaves throughout the fall season and collect as much free organic matter as you can. However, if you’re not too keen on composting, spending so much labor on raking leaves is just a bad use of your time and energy. Instead, get a mulching mower and run it over the dead leaves to leave a fresh layer of mulch on the grass.
- Adjust irrigation – You need to be very careful and precise with irrigation before and during the fall season. You’ll be going back to your lawn irrigation schedule and adjusting it several times during this season. This is crucial, especially if you get rainfall during the fall season and have an automated irrigation system.
Unless you’re seeding bare spots or overseeding the lawn, the irrigation needs of your turf would continue to go down as temperatures get cooler, the soil becomes moister, and the grass goes dormant. You need to consistently cut down on irrigation to keep from flooding the lawn and to save water.
The fall season doesn’t just signify a dip in temperature. The air also turns drier while the soil starts retaining more moisture. Your lawn needs to adjust to those changes and the above-mentioned tips help you prepare your lawn for the fall season. You can also search for “landscape companies near me” and allow professionals to do the job.