A healthy lawn in spring starts in the fall. Follow these fall lawn care tips to successfully overwinter your lawn and watch it surge with green growth in the spring.
Decrease Mowing Height
Most professionals agree that mowing a little bit higher during the summer months has many benefits.
But as the cooler weather sets in there are 3 benefits to maintaining a shorter lawn:
1.) Increased air circulation– Let your landscape breathe! Your plants, and your lawn, both benefit from air circulation.
With the decreased sunlight and cooler temps, your lawns soil will remain moist for most of the time, especially in late fall.
Too much soil moisture can cause fungal problems, and is also bad for your lawns roots. If the surface of your lawns soil is wet then roots tend to grow more to the surface instead of deep into the soil.
Cutting your lawn shorter during the fall will give more air circulation to the soil surface. Air flow helps a lot with decreasing fungus and maintaining a healthy root structure.
2.) Decreases Matting Down/Bending- Since sunlight is less intense, and not as overhead during the fall months, longer blades of grass tend to bend over instead of remaining upright.
This bending over shades nearby grass and decreases air circulation and photosynthesis.
You want grass blades to be upright so sun and air can hit individual blades of grass. Cutting your lawn shorter during the fall makes it easier for grass blades to remain upright.
3.) Decreases likelihood of snow mold- A big part of fall lawn care is preparing your lawn for the winter.
Your lawn is about to be covered in snow, probably for several months. Snow mold is one of the biggest obstacles in your way for a healthy spring lawn.
Cutting your lawn short, and then even shorter the last cut of the season will help keep your grass blades upright throughout the winter, even when toppled with snow.
Keep in mind, floppy grass blades are your enemy. If you have snow on top of flopped over grass you are at risk of having snow mold. This could leave you with a lot of bare spots in the spring.
*Important Tip– When decreasing mowing height, make gradual adjustments. Try to decrease a 1/2″ at a time. A good strategy is to make 2 mowing height decreases. The first one in early/mid fall and then for the final mow of the season you kick it down another notch.
Leaves are great, but only in your compost pile. Don’t think that leaving leaves on your lawn, or even mulching them in with your mower is doing your lawn any favors.
Leaves block light, block air flow, and trap moisture. These are terrible conditions for your lawn, so be sure to clean leaves off your lawn areas as often as possible.
This back pack blower is one of the best fall cleanup investments you can make.
Spot Treat Weeds
Spot treating perennial lawn weeds such as clover and dandelions is a great thing to do in the fall and is often overlooked.
These perennial lawn weeds will come back strong in the spring if not dealt with in the fall.
For spot treating use this lawn safe, reliable liquid herbicide.
In the beginning of fall it’s usually time for a pretty significant change in how you irrigate your lawn.
Since temperatures and weather conditions can fluctuate so much day to day it is wise to shift to more of a manual approach to irrigating.
Check the weekly weather forecast at the beginning of the week and focus on irrigating during the warmer, dryer days.
Once the weather becomes consistently cool you are probably good to stop irrigating.
Overwatering your lawn can create problems. If your lawns soil is remaining moist throughout the day you most likely don’t need to irrigate.
The only exception to decreasing irrigation during the fall is after you fertilize or if you are trying to get seed to germinate. It is important to irrigate during both these times.
Apply Fall Fertilizers
Your fall fertilizer treatments are important.
With the heat of the summer gone, a lot of lawn weeds are starting to die back and your lawn is becoming dominant.
Take advantage of these conditions by feeding your lawn with a good organic fertilizer in early fall and then a winterizer fertilizer in late fall.
Winterizer fertilizer has quick release nitrogen, maybe a little phosphorus, and usually some potassium. The increased potassium levels is what makes winterizer fertilizers unique.
Understanding how to read the label on your fertilizer bag is important and worth the education
Remember, the best way to combat weeds, fungus, and heat stress is to have a healthy, thick lawn.
Since limestone can burn your lawn when exposed to intense sun, it is best to apply lime in the fall. Only apply lime if it’s necessary.
Your lawns soil should have a PH of about 5.8-7. If your lawns PH is lower then 5.8 adding lime will increase PH to a healthier range.
Checking the PH of your soil is actually very easy when you use a soil tester.
Core aerating and overseeding is one of the best ways to rejuvenate, and even renovate your lawn.
If your lawn took a bit of a beating this past year then check out this core aerating/overseeding instructional to get your lawn back on track.
Top Dress Lawn
If you want to seriously make improvements to your lawn, then top dressing is your answer.
In fact, for the ultimate lawn renovation, combine core aeration and overseeding with topdressing. This is the best way to completely renovate your lawn without having to start over.
If you suspect your lawn has a thatch problem, then dethatching is a must. Early fall is the best time to address thatch problems.
If your lawn feels springy when you walk on it, or if it has a bounce to hit, it is likely you have a thatch problem.
To confirm, take a shovel, preferably an edging shovel and cut out a small section. If you see a layer of thatch that is more then 1/2” thick then you need to dethatch.
Check Out These Posts Next
Join my free email list!