It may seem counterproductive, but autumn is the perfect time of year to do yard work. With the cooler temperatures and frequent moisture, fall is the ideal season to prepare your lawn for the spring. To help improve your yard and get it ready for the next outdoor season, follow these fall lawn care tips.
Don’t Neglect Lawn Care in the Fall
To ensure a luscious, healthy green lawn in the spring, you must take proper care of your lawn in the fall before it goes dormant. It is also a great time to repair any damage that your lawn suffered over the hot summer months. Think of this lawn care preparation like a bear going into hibernation. Bears fatten up before they take their long winter nap. You want to do the same to your lawn to ensure it awakens in the spring full of nutrients and ready to grow.
Here are some other fall lawn care tips.
Keep on Mowing
Grass will continue to grow until the first hard frost. It is important to continue to mow it up until then. In the fall, the ideal height to keep your lawn at is about 2.5 to 3 inches. This will allow it to withstand the winter cold but not leaving it vulnerable to matting or fungi growth like longer blades will. Plus, regular mowing during the fall helps clear leaves. Chop them up as you mow to leave behind a soil-enhancing mulch. If you have too many leaves to mulch and need to bag them, consider starting a compost pile. You can also add branches and lawn clippings to it as well. Learn all you need to know about composting in our Composting 101 and How to Compost blogs.
Let Your Lawn Breathe
Create air channels in a compacted lawn by aerating the soil. Do it yourself by pushing a border fork or hollow tiner into the soil every 4 inches or you can hire a landscaping company to quickly aerate your whole lawn for you. It works by pulling out compacted plugs of soil and reduces thatch, improves drainage and loosens the soil. Aerating the lawn allows air, fertilizer, sunlight and more get to the root of the grass to improve its health. Water and mow the lawn before you aerate. Fertilize after you aerate. Aeration should be done every two years for the most effective lawn care.
Fall is the Time to Fertilize
There’s no better season to fertilize your lawn than fall, especially if you only do so once a year. Grass leaves grow slower in the cooler fall temperatures, but roots and rhizomes (the horizontal plant stems that sit just below the surface of the soil) continue to grow quickly. Fertilizing in the fall allows the grass to grow deep roots and keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy growth start in the spring. A fall fertilizer application also helps the grass repair any traffic, sun or heat damage it may have occurred over the summer months. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully on the fertilizer you choose and remember that it is better to under-fertilize rather than overdo it. Always fill your broadcast spreader or walk-behind drop spreader on the driveway to avoid spillover in the lawn that could damage or kill the exposed grass.
Reseed and Repair
Fill in any bald spots in your yard with grass seed or an all-in-one lawn repair mixture during the fall. The mixture usually contains grass seed, fertilizer, and organic mulch so it will stimulate regrowth while also providing nutrients and protectant.
While you never want to over-fertilize, you actually can overseed your existing turf in the fall for optimum lawn care. It will expose your lawn to the latest in resilient, drought-tolerant grasses, help fill in bare patches and create a dense lawn that can protect against weed growth. After you lay down the seed, make sure it is in full contact with the soil by pressing seeds into the lawn. Keep the new seed thoroughly watered until it begins to germinate and then mist until the seedlings are mowing height. Make sure you seed well in advance of the first snowfall.
Seeding in the fall produces fewer weeds and allows the grass to become established before the hot weather takes over. Plus, it allows the roots to grow strong and resilient.
If you want to do more than just reseed your lawn and are interested in learning what vegetables to plant in the fall, view our Vegetable Planting Guide.
Are You Ready to Try These Fall Lawn Care Tips?
Be prepared before fall arrives to give your lawn the best chance of not only surviving but thriving during the cold winter months. With these lawn care tips, your yard will look great come spring and you can focus on landscaping for design rather than maintenance or reparative lawn care work. The fall lawn preparation will be key so don’t overlook these steps. If we left anything out on how to improve your lawn, please let us know and share with us your favorite must-do fall lawn care step. And head over to our blog for more eco-friendly lawn care tips.