There are around 65,000 miles of lawns in the U.S, which means that there is plenty of earth to care for.
Lawn care in the fall is key for preparing your yard for cooler months and keeping it healthy. But if you don’t have a green thumb, it can feel overwhelming knowing exactly what to do. Perhaps you’re currently in this situation and want to learn the basics.
Sounds like you? No worries; we’ve got you! Here are tips for maintaining your lawn care in the fall.
1. Keep a Tight Schedule
One of the top fall lawn care tips is keeping and sticking to a tight schedule. Know that you shouldn’t do each step too early; otherwise, the soil may miss out on essential nutrients. Don’t be embarrassed to create a calendar, as it will keep you organized and prevent you from missing any essential steps.
Or, if that still overwhelms you, hire a reputable company like DTL Total Turf to provide professional lawn care and guide you through the process.
2. Remove Fallen Leaves
Another essential part of fall lawn maintenance is removing any fallen leaves.
Although it’s tempting to keep them, they’re terrible for grass as they block light and trap moisture. Instead, pull a rake through the leaves or invest in a leaf blower regularly to prevent a buildup. If you’ve only got a small pile of leaves, mulch them with a mower as it helps return the organic matter into the soil.
Further, fall is the time to winterize your riding mower if you have one. Start by fogging the engine as it removes any signs of moisture that can lead to corroded pipes.
You should also charge the lawn mower’s battery because, if you don’t, it can lead to permanent damage, especially during winter. Also, add a fuel stabilizer to the tank; otherwise, it could ruin your entire system and result in costly repairs.
Another important part of winterizing your yard is clearing gutter spouts. Make sure you remove any leaves or organic matter that has built up over time. If you don’t, these blockages will seep into your roof and cause huge structural damage, which can be easily preventable.
If you’re struggling to reach these leaves, invest in a plumber’s sake to remove clumps of wet leaves and compost them immediately.
3. Mow Your Lawn Regularly
When winterizing your lawn, it’s important to regularly mow the grass so it stays around two to three inches. The key is to keep cutting your grass at its normal height or until it stops growing when it gets too cold. You should also spend time winterizing your mower by sharpening the blades, changing the oil, and inspecting it for damage.
But avoid cutting the grass overly short as it can impact its root system. If this happens, it’s harder for your grass to withstand the frost and dryness.
4. Think About Aeration
Anyone interested in fall lawn care understands the importance of aeration. This is when you create holes in the soil to let nutrients reach the grass’s roots, which is difficult after a summer of heat. A bonus is it improves soil drainage and encourages worms, an indicator of soil health.
To do this, you’ll need a spike aerator to poke holes into the ground. Once the entire area is covered, use a plug aerator to move additional grass and soil from the lawn.
Further, homeowners should consider top-dressing their lawn. Note that this is when you apply a thin layer of soil or compost to your yard. Gardeners recommend this because it improves growing conditions and the amount of organic matter in the soil, which is the key to a healthy lawn.
If you’re interested, spread half an inch over the entire lawn, especially focusing on areas where the grass is brown or thinning. Although you can buy topdressing, it’s possible to make your own by mixing sieved garden soil, sand, and compost.
5. Apply a Nitrogen-Rich Fertilizer
Another way to protect your lawn is by fertilizing it in the cooler months. Make sure you use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to give the soil more nutrients and help it grow stronger during spring. So, once you’ve aerated the soil, lay the fertilizer and it will reach deeper into the soil.
Also, if you haven’t already, test the soil in the fall as it helps maintain your lawn’s soil pH and nutrition. As a general rule, you should do this every three years unless you have issues and target those instead.
6. Continue Watering
Because of the temperature fluctuation, less rainfall evaporates during the fall, so there’s plenty of natural water to keep your lawn healthy. But this doesn’t mean you should stop watering the lawn, especially if there’s been a lull in the amount of rain you’ve received.
At the very least, your lawn should get at least one inch of water a week. It’s wise to invest in a rain gauge to keep on track or program sprinklers until the end of fall.
7. Prioritize Lawn Pest Control
Many homeowners overlook pest control in the fall, and it can be a major problem, especially if there are insects there already. Make sure you’re regularly evaluating the lawn and take immediate action to reduce the damage. You should either contact a pest control service or apply pesticides to handle grubs.
Further, it’s important to familiarize yourself with common lawn diseases. A common one is the dollar spot, which is a lawn fungus that turns your grass brown or tan. You’ll notice these areas are round, and it’s essential you control them by using fungicides before it damages your entire lawn.
You should also be on the lookout for lawn rust. As the name suggests, this is where the grass develops orange-brown specks that destroy the grass’s blades and cause them to weaken. But, you can prevent this by limiting soil compaction by regularly aerating your lawn and limiting how often you’re watering it.
Also, if you’re still struggling with lawn rust, bag and remove your lawn trimmings, as they will develop into the thatch and prevent fungi from impacting the lawn.
8. Spread Seed
Fall is the best time to start spreading seeds because the ground is still warm and filled with moisture. Although it sounds counterproductive, having a dense lawn is great protection during the cooler months. The beauty is seeding fills any thin spots or bare patches, which keeps your lawn healthier over time.
But this doesn’t mean you should spray seeds mindlessly over the ground. Instead, carefully place seeds in the soil and water each one until they germinate.
9. Eliminate Weeds
Homeowners should also spend time eliminating weeds; otherwise, they will wreak havoc on your lawn. You’ll likely need specialized weeding tools to remove pesky plants or a weed killer if it’s stubborn. But the key is to follow the label’s instructions and target a specific area rather than your entire lawn.
Further, homeowners should drain their lawn’s irrigation systems before winter arrives. You can either do this with compressed air or use drain valves instead. If not, the pipes could potentially freeze and seep out onto your lawn.
Additionally, you should be on the lookout for moss. Although they play an important role in natural environments, they can spread over healthy grass and inhibit the number of nutrients it receives. Note that moss develops when the lawn has poor drainage, so increase how often you aerate the soil and even try moss killer.
10. Check for Thatch
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, “thatch” is a layer of dead organic matter that sits near the soil’s surface. The problem with this is that it can cause disease and attract insects, which is disastrous for lawns. It’s important to note that you’ll likely get thatch if you overfertilize or overwater the grass, so be mindful of this.
Make sure you check for thatch by turning a small area of grass. But don’t worry if you only notice one inch or less because that’s normal. If you do, however, notice a build-up, then remove excess thatch immediately.
Dethatching is where you cut the layer and rip out any remaining debris. You do this with a power rake or vertical mower, which you can rent from your local hardware store. Once you’ve done this, compost the removed thatch.
Prioritize Lawn Care in the Fall
Hopefully, you’re now ready to elevate your lawn care in the fall.
There are many important factors in fall care, such as removing fallen leaves and making sure your irrigation system is winterized. You should also prioritize pest control and regularly check for thatch buildup as it’s terrible for lawns. Good luck!
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