With fall in full swing, and winter coming soon, many homeowners are focusing more on holiday versus lawn preparations. But autumn, bringing cooler temperatures and scattered rainfall, makes for the perfect time to prep your lawn for the spring.
Even though grass grows more slowly, it is a sponge for absorbing nutrients in preparation for the dormant winter months. Give it a little attention now and you’ll be rewarded come spring. Here’s 6 ways to give your lawn what it needs this fall. These can even be accomplished while hanging up the outdoor holiday decor.
Remove the Leaves
The most obvious and least fun part of fall lawn care is leaf removal. These colorful autumn indicators might be aesthetically pleasing and fun to dive in, but they’re terrible for your lawn. They block out any light and trap moisture. This could pack a fatal punch for what’s left of the grass underneath. Don’t wait until the trees are bare to start raking. Once the wind begins piling leaves up, use a blower or rake to continually remove the leaves. Or, consider alternative methods such as a lawnmower fitted with a collection bag or vacuum system. A mulching mower works well to shred small amounts of leaves. Whatever your preferred method, just make sure to remove them before they suffocate your yard.
Mow your Lawn
Leaf removal is only the first phase of keeping your lawn in good shape. Continue to mow your lawn, as needed, throughout the fall. Make sure to set your mower to cut 1-1/2 or 2-inches and keep your grass short. This creates a few positive results. First, it cuts down your chance of snow mold forming. Secondly, taller grass blades won’t lie down and smother new spring grass. Just avoid cutting anything too short. Tightly clipped turf means fewer roots and creates an issue of weeds taking over your space.
Kill the Weeds
If weeds have taken already started taking over your lawn, fall is the time to fight back. Broadleaf weeds, like dandelions, are in energy-absorbing mode like most plants. Which means they are taking in anything that comes their way. This includes weed killers. Apply now and it’s almost 100 percent guaranteed they won’t return in the spring. Just make sure to read the package label before use. Most herbicide manufacturers recommend applying the weed killer in the earlier fall months. More specifically, when daytime temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Aerate the Soil
Fall is also the ideal time to take care of your soil. More specifically, if you have heavy, clay-rich soil, it’s important to aerate. This practice allows your lawn oxygen, water, and fertilizer to easily reach grass roots. Consider tossing aside those golf spike looking tools that strap to the bottom of your shoes. Rent a gas-powered, lawn aerator for about $40 to $70 a day. This type of aerator extracts plugs of dirt from your lawn by quickly punching holes into the soil. Your lawn will look like a mess afterward. But don’t worry. The plugs should dissolve in a matter of days.
Fertilize your Lawn
If you could fertilize your lawn once a year, do it in the fall. Sure, grass leaves grow much more slowly as the cool fall temperatures roll in. However, beneath the surface, horizontal plant stems known as rhizomes continue growing rapidly. These produce not only the blades of grass above, but also the roots below. A mid-to-late fall application of dry lawn fertilizer delivers essential nutrients for the grass to grow tall and the roots deep. Be careful not to miss any spots. Use a walk-behind drop spreader for optimum coverage. It is the best way to apply an even, consistent layer of fertilizer.
Fill in Bald Spots
Early fall is a prime time for reseeding any dead or thin patches in your lawn. First, if you seed in autumn, you’ll deal with fewer weeds. Secondly, this allows the seedlings to become established prior to the arrival of stressful, hot temperatures. A quick, easy solution to this is using an all-in-one lawn repair mixture. These are sold at most home and garden centers and contain a ready-to-use mixture of grass seed, quick-starter lawn fertilizer, and organic mulch.
Keep in Mind
These tips, if done properly, add essential benefits to your overall yard health. However, these must be done at the right time for correct results. Before diving in, make sure you study your local weather patterns to ensure your efforts aren’t wasted. For example, fertilizing before a cold front could cause tender blades to get hammered by the cold. However, fertilize too late and risk minimal time for the grass roots to absorb all the nutrients.
Also, don’t forget to continue watering. Even though there might be more moisture in the air around this time of year, doesn’t mean it’s enough to keep roots hydrated into the winter.
If you are a homeowner whose priorities make it tough to stick to a set schedule, consider hiring a lawn maintenance professional. Either way, come spring and your vibrant, nutritious and pristine lawn will make all of these additional practices well worth the time and energy.
Are you a homeowner who already does a majority of lawn care in the fall? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section below.
Interested in learning about the benefits of new lawns that come with every D.R. Horton home? Reach out today to one of our customer care specialists to learn more!