A Complete Guide To Fall Lawn Care And Maintenance

With the cooler weather of autumn, yard care and lawn maintenance becomes an enjoyable task. Proper mowing, feeding, weeding, and watering assures the homeowner a lush, green, weed-free lawn in the coming spring.

September is the time to focus attention for cool-season grasses of the northern United States, while the latter part of September or early October is best for warm-season grasses found in the south. Fertilizers, feeding, weeding, and grass seeding efforts will be enhanced by the warm daytime temperatures and cooler, moist nights of autumn.

Achieving maximum benefits for year-round results, fall lawn care requires different tasks:

  • Mowing the grass
  • Mulching leaves
  • Aerating the soil
  • Feed and weed the lawn
  • Seeding grass
  • Watering the lawn

Mowing The Grass

When To Cut Grass After Overseeding

Proper mowing of grass helps generate healthier lawns. The mower blades should be as sharp as possible, as ragged grass blades expose a larger surface area to disease, pests and water loss. The proper cutting height should be 2 – 2 ½ inches. Fall cuttings should progress to a lower cutting height, without scalping, which helps the grass to harden and strengthen the root and crown system.

Read more: How Often To Sharpen Mower Blades

Mulching The Leaves

Up to one inch of mulch can be used (about the size of a dime) to serve as a protective cover during the cold season. Clumps of leaves often accumulate in corners and low spots and should be removed as piles of leaves become a breeding spot for diseases and insect pests. When excess leaf cover is available, gather and start a compost pile for future garden use.

Aerating The Lawn

Lawn Aeration

Aeration should be done about two weeks before applying the year’s final fertilizer, or five to six weeks before the first frost. The best aerator has hollow tines that remove plugs of soil. Unsightly plugs that remain on the lawn can be diminished by mowing over the plugs. They will eventually dissolve and return their nutrients to the soil.

Read more: Dethatching Vs Aerating Lawn: What Is The Best For Your Lawn

Feed And Weed The Lawn

Lawns that receive late-season fertilizing are usually the first to grow in the new season. Application should be well before the grass turns brown. The local agricultural department can assess a sample of the soil and recommend proper nutrients that need to be added. Otherwise, use a standard lawn fertilizer. Adding lime to the soil provides valuable nutrients.

Read instructions carefully and apply as recommended. Adjusting the spreader to one-half the recommended setting and applying first in an up and down pattern, then in a left-to-right pattern assures even coverage of the entire lawn surface.

If weeds are few and scattered, or confined to a few small areas, spot treating them with herbicide is usually sufficient. Be sure to complete treatments when temperatures are above 50 degrees, giving the herbicide time to do its job before winter cold. There is no need to apply herbicide over the entire lawn unless there is extensive weed infestation. Crabgrass is best controlled in the springtime.

Seeding New Grass

Fall is the best time of the year to establish or repair lawns. Seeding should be completed before colder weather arrives. Rake any bare spots and seed, making sure the spots stay moist until the grass has grown in. Check the labels on herbicides as some inhibit the growth of young plants.

Watering The Lawn

Although cooler weather arrives and the nights become moist, it is important to continue to water the lawn until the ground is cold and beginning to freeze. Continuous watering throughout the fall season allows the grass to establish a strong root base.

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Experts agree that proper lawn care in the fall has a greater impact for developing a great lawn grass throughout the year. Grass growth begins to slow in the fall and it is an excellent time to help lawns develop the stamina they need to survive the stress of winter, giving it a head start for the coming spring growth.

Fall Lawn Care