Congratulations, you've managed to keep your lawn alive through the stifling summer heat. Now in fall—with winter on the horizon—you may be tempted to rest on your laurels and relax your routine. After all, the yard will soon be covered by snow, and as the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” But the truth is that in many parts of the country, fall is a key season for lawn care. What you do at this time year largely determines the state of your grass in spring. So take these steps now to ensure a greener lawn all next year.
The last couple of times you cut the lawn this year, do so with the mower on its lowest blade-height setting. Cutting so closely allows more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass blades, and it may minimize the extent to which your lawn looks brown while dormant. Just be careful not to trim off any more than a third in a single session. Overly aggressive cutting can shock the lawn and compromise its health.
Don't Leave Leaves
As trees begin to drop their leaves, rake and rake often. Why? Because most lawns contain at least some cool-season grasses, and true to their name, these varieties are active in the cool weather of fall. Left under a layer of leaves, deprived of sunlight, cool-season grasses are bound to struggle, if not die.
In Northern Climates, Aerate
Even if you've never aerated before, you would likely recognize the process's leftovers—wine cork-shaped cylinders of earth. Primarily a means by which to combat soil compaction, aeration is the recommended method of ensuring that air, moisture, and nutrients are able to reach grass roots. Since cool-season grasses are active in fall, now is an ideal time to aerate if you live in the North (if you live in a warm climate, then aerate in summer).
In warm climates, fertilizing is a year-round affair. But in regions with cold winters, fall is the most important time to administer a slow-release organic fertilizer. In areas that get full sun, lay down between one and four pounds per 1,000 square feet of grass; in shaded areas, use a little less. Use a spreader tool, because even dispersal is key.
After aerating and fertilizing, go ahead and plant grass seeds in a cold-weather climate. For one thing, the process couldn't be easier. And second, the weather creates perfect conditions. There's sufficient sun and plenty of rain; there's less competition from weeds; and the nip in the air gives way to strong roots. To give newly planted seeds the best chance of survival, do take the time to properly till the soil.
Be a Super Soaker
This time of year, you don't need to water as often as you did over the summer, but you should still maintain a regular sprinkler schedule. That's true in part because watering aids fertilizer to work more effectively and is of vital importance for newly planted seeds.
Kill the Weeds
As they prepare for winter, broadleaf perennial weeds, such as dandelion and clover, pull nutrients from the soil into their roots. Treat problem spots with an application of commercial herbicide or try an organic alternative.
Content courtesy of http://www.bobvila.com
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