Among turf care experts, it's a well-known fact that the best way to ensure a thick, green, and healthy lawn in the spring is to give it some well-timed care in the fall—in other words, right now. Here is a six-step program to getting a beautiful lawn next year. (Mention this article and receive 25% Off Hardware Hank Winterizer for your lawn at Northwoods Hardware Hank! - see below)
1. Remove the leaves.
A carpet of colorful autumn leaves may look nice and be fun to play in, but they're no good for grass. They block the light and trap moisture, potentially fatal knockout punches for the unlucky turf underneath. So when the leaves are falling, blow or rake them away as often as you can. Even after the trees are bare, continue raking out the corners where the wind piles leaves up. If you don't, come spring the grass under that soggy, decaying mat will be dead.
2. Keep cutting, but to the correct height.
Don't put that mower away yet. Grass continues to grown up to the first hard frost, and so will need regular cuts to keep it at an ideal 2½- to 3-inch height. If you let it get too long, it will mat and be vulnerable to fungi like snow mold. Cutting grass too short is just as bad, because it curtails the root system—root depth is proportional to cutting height—and impedes the lawn's ability to withstand winter cold and dryness. Regular mowing also gets rid of those pesky leaves, chopping them up and leaving behind a soil-enhancing mulch.
3. Continue watering.
People tend to let up on watering in the fall as the weather gets cooler. While it's true that there's more rain, more dew, and less evaporation at this time of year, that may not be enough to keep the grass roots well hydrated and healthy going into the winter. If your lawn isn't getting at least an inch of water a week—a simple rain gauge is a useful way to keep track—then keep the sprinklers or irrigation system running until the end of October. By that time, you'll want to disconnect hoses and flush the irrigation system to avoid frozen pipes and spigots.
4. Loosen the soil.
Regular aeration—prevents soil from becoming compacted and covered with thatch, a thick layer of roots, stems, and debris that blocks water, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching the soil. A core aerator corrects both problems by punching holes through that thatch and pulling up plugs of soil. It's a good idea to aerate a lawn right before fertilizing. All those holes in your turf will let the fertilizer reach right to the roots, where it can do the most good.
5. Add fertilizer.
Just as grass roots need water to last the winter, they also benefit from a shot of the plant sugars that protect roots from freezing and give the entire plant the energy to bounce back in the spring. Those sugars are produced by chlorophyll, which grass produces in abundance when there's enough nitrogen.
6. Spread seed.
A dense lawn also is good protection against weeds, which is why it's important to overseed existing turf. Not only does that fill in thin spots or bare patches, it allows you to introduce the latest in resilient, drought-tolerant grasses. Fall is the best time to overseed because the ground is still warm, moisture is more plentiful, nights are cool, and the sun is not as hot during the day.
Come see us at Northwoods Hardware Hank for all of your Fall Lawn Care needs. Mention this article and receive 25% Off Hardware Hank Winterizer for your lawn!
Northwoods Hardware Hank & Rental is your one stop store for just about everything you need for your home, including hardware, paint, pet and ranch, housewares, lawn and garden, plumbing, electrical, keys, rental equipment and so much more. We carry well-known name brand manufacturers such as Husqvarna, Valspar Paint, Scott's Lawn Care and Fertilizers and Weber Grills. We are the authorized dealer for Premier Portable Buildings and Aluma Trailers. Conveniently located on River Street.