Lawn Care - Fall Maintenance
1. Fertilize Labor Day Weekend (warm & cool grass)
2. Aerate Every Other Year
3. Dormant Feeding - Oct (warm grass) & Nov (cool grass)
Follow these simple steps for a greener, healthier lawn next spring!
If you only fertilize once a year, fall is the best and most important time to do so. In the fall you are not feeding the grass to achieve top growth, but rather building up food reserves so the roots will go into winter strong and healthy and better prepared to green up faster in spring. For cool season grasses, we recommend an application of Milorganite around Labor Day and once again around Thanksgiving-before the first major deep freeze or snowfall in your area. Warm season grasses also prefer a Labor Day application and an early October feeding or an application in conjunction with overseeding.
Once the cooler fall temperatures arrive, mowing at the highest setting on your mower should continue until the lawn begins to go dormant. Once the lawn is dormant, you can drop the height of cut to about 2" for cool season grasses and 1" for warm season species.
Leave fallen leaves on the lawn and make several passes over them with your lawn mower to mulch them small enough to stay on the lawn. If chopped finely enough, the leaves will slowly decompose and add organic matter to the soil.
Temperatures may be dropping, but lawns still need 1” of water per week whether it comes from rain fall or irrigating, as long as the lawn is growing, it needs water.
Fall Seeding and Sod Projects
Overseeding your lawn in the fall helps to increase density and improves the overall health and appearance of the lawn. The best time to overseed cool season lawns is typically from late August to mid-September. Warm season lawns should be overseeded about one month before your average date of first frost. Overseeding can be done directly after aerating if timed correctly. If you plan on applying a pre-emergent for weed control at this time, you will have to wait until the spring to seed. If you’re just looking to reseed bare patches in the lawn, rake out the existing dead grass, add some top soil along with a handful of seed and Milorganite and gently rake in and water.
Fall is also an excellent time for sod projects, temperatures are cooler so you won’t need to worry about the sod drying out as quickly. When laying sod, it’s a good idea to spread a little top soil over the seam where two rolls of sod meet. This allows the two rolls to grow together quicker, and keeps the seams from drying out. Don’t forget to put some Milorganite down on top of the soil before laying the sod.
Looking to completely renovate your lawn? Lawns that were planted 20+ years ago may be looking a little thin and weedy and over seeding may not be enough to bring the lawn back to its glory days. Follow these simple steps to achieve the type of lawn that will make your neighbors green with envy!
Core aeration alleviates compaction, encourages the uptake of nutrients and oxygen and helps to breakdown thatch. It is recommended to core aerate cool season turf species in the fall and warm season grasses in the spring. An excellent time to overseed is directly after aerification.
September and October are the best months to control perennial broadleaf weeds like dandelions, creeping Charlie, and clover. Consider removing weeds by hand making sure to remove the entire root or consider spot treating with an herbicide. If overseeding in the fall, most herbicides cannot be applied within 6-8 weeks of putting down seed. Be sure to read all herbicide labels carefully.
Thatch is a layer of living and dead stems, roots and crowns that develop between the green vegetation and the soil surface. Thatch acts as a barrier to water, nutrients and air reaching the soil and should be removed to ensure a healthy lawn. The best time to dethatch a cool-season lawn is early fall or early spring and a warm-season lawn in early summer. For small areas, use a metal rake to pull the thatch out of the lawn. For large lawns, a power dethatcher can be used.
Browse our list of articles for more Fall lawn and gardening tips.