Fall is a critical time for yard maintenance because the manner in which you care for it in the fall determines how well it bounces back in the spring. Follow these imperative yard-care tips and you’ll have the nicest lawn in the neighborhood come spring.
Tip #1: Keep Mowing
Many homeowners assume that with cooler weather comes a reduction in the growth of grass. While this is partially true, it doesn’t mean you should skip mowing your yard. The arrival of fall weather might mean that your grass takes longer to reach a height that requires trimming, but it will continue to grow until the first frost of the season. Keep mowing and watering your yard as necessary to keep it healthy in the fall. Also, be sure to lower your mower’s deck height to a low setting for the final two cuts of the season.
Cutting your grass shorter the last two times you mow for the season allows more of the sunlight to reach the soil. Just remember not to go too low and scalp your lawn.
Tip #2: Aerate the Soil
Fall is the best time of year to aerate the soil on your property. You can rent a gas-powered, walk-behind aerator from your local Home Depot or Lowe’s for roughly $70. Aeration enables more water, oxygen and fertilizer to easily reach the roots of your grass. One of the reasons it is critical at this time of year is because most northern grass varieties have their greatest level of root growth in the fall. Feeding that growth now powers a better bounce back in the spring.
Tip #3: Fill in Bald Patches
As we just mentioned, fall is the most potent time of year for root growth, which makes it a great time of year to fill in those bald patches in your lawn. Depending upon the size of those bald spots, an all-in-one lawn repair mixture is the ideal option because it combines grass seed, lawn fertilizer and organic mulch all in one bag that you spread over the bald spot. Simply water the mixture and it will germinate in the coming weeks for full coverage and a healthier yard in the spring.
Tip #4: Fertilize for Spring
Speaking of healthy grass in the spring, now’s a good time to fertilize your entire yard. There’s never a bad time of year to fertilize, but if you are only going to do it once a year, fall is the time. Again, remember that your grass roots are growing at their fastest rate in the fall. Also, the rhizomes — horizontal planes below the soil that sprout your blades above and sink roots below — are growing quickly at this time of year. The best time of year to add fertilizer is late in the fall.
Tip #5: Kill Weeds
Broadleaf weeds grow quickly because of their ability to capture water and quickly go to seed. This makes fall the best time to apply a weed killing herbicide because the weeds will drink it in thinking it’s a nutrient.
Tip #6: Clear the Leaf Falls
Last but not least, don’t forget to clear the leaf falls from the trees on your property. It might not be fun, but it’s important to get out as frequently as you can to remove the leaf fall from your grass because the longer it sits there, the more problems it can cause. The thicker your leaf cover gets, the more moisture it holds in from rains and morning dew. The additional moisture not only suffocates your yard, but it also breeds fungal diseases. If you have a riding mower already, it’s likely worth investing in a collection bag and vacuum system attachment to make the job quicker and easier.