Cooling temperatures and falling leaves may not bring to mind the idea of vibrant green lawns, but autumn is a critical time to take important steps toward ensuring that you posses healthy spring turf. The heat and drought of summer, coupled with the wear-and-tear of outdoor play, can cause significant damage to your lawn and proper fall maintenance is required to make sure fresh new grass will thrive next season. Fall is the time to make certain that your lawn is not only well-prepared to endure the coming winter, but also to return in lush, optimal condition next spring.
Turf Fertilization and Weed Control
Two feedings are required in the fall season to allow grass roots the nutrients they need in order to rebuild after a long summer. Fall fertilization also ensures that new grass will be able to build up energy stores to last through the winter and grow strong and healthy in the spring. This will strengthen the root system to protect against freezing temperatures and help produce a thicker, lusher lawn entering into the growing season. It’s also an excellent time for weed control, which is often applied simultaneously with your fertilizer, ensuring that those nutrients work to build a healthy lawn instead of also benefiting weed growth.
Lawn aeration can boost the positive effects of fertilization by allowing nutrients, oxygen and water to reach deeper into the roots of your grass. Aeration also opens up air channels in soil that may have become densely compacted over the summer. This, in turn, improves the overall circulation of air, water, and fertilizer throughout the root systems of your lawn. In the same way, regular aeration combats a build-up of heavy thatch just below the surface, where roots and debris have become entangled and formed a thick, impenetrable layer, blocking nutrients and inhibiting future growth.
The best way to repair the thin and damaged spots in your lawn caused by heavy summer foot traffic and drought is to overseed your grass in the fall. This will also help ensure a thicker lawn for the spring. Early autumn is ideal for overseeding because the soil still maintains some warmth while day and night temperatures begin to cool off. Fall rain also helps new seeds take root by keeping them moist, which is imperative for good seed establishment before the harsher climes of winter set in.
While a blanket of vibrant fall leaves might seem picturesque, allowing a layer of fallen leaves to sit on your lawn can be detrimental to future lawn growth because it can smother already established grass and shut out sunlight, leading to yellow, dead grass in the spring. Raking your leaves regularly ensures that they don’t have the chance to form a heavy, suffocating mat on your lawn, and frequent leaf removal also makes proper fall feeding, seeding, and mowing significantly easier to accomplish.
Consider collecting your leaves in a compost bin to allow them to decompose and be utilized as nutrient additives in your garden moving forward. Shredding them before storing them in the bin helps this process move along faster.
Fall lawn maintenance is essential not only to effectively winterize your turf, but will also give you an important advantage in maintaining a beautiful lawn next summer. Grass that is properly cared for in the fall will return stronger, thicker and lusher in the spring. This will minimize weeds and problem areas that may be more difficult to remedy once the dormant season has passed.