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If you spent a lot of time this summer maintaining your lawn, you probably welcome the arrival of cooler temperatures. However, the end of summer is not the end of lawn maintenance. “Fall comes with a mix of warm soil and cool air, perfect for planting grass seed and allowing time for new grass roots to develop before winter sets in,” according to Phil Dwyer, Ph.D., Turf Grass Scientist at .
“It is also a good time to feed and build stronger, deeper roots for winter, resulting in a thicker, greener lawn next spring,” Dwyer tells devils-den. Every lawn is different, but here are some lawn maintenance tips to take advantage of the fall weather.
Repair bare spots
During the summer, there’s usually a lot of lawn traffic. By the fall, Dwyer says, pets, kids playing, and foot traffic have probably resulted in a few bare patches. “Using a hand rake or other tool, loosen the top layer of soil to give the new seed a better chance to nestle in and begin to build strong roots.” Next, he recommends applying over the entire bare spot, according to the label’s directions. “Finally, give the newly seeded patch a deep and thorough watering – but stop if you see the water start to puddle.” Dwyer recommends watering the patch daily to keep those seeds hydrated and growing.
Overseed your lawn
If your lawn looks thin in the fall, this is a good time to thicken it by overseeding before winter sets in.“To overseed your lawn, start by setting your mower to one of its lowest settings so you can cut your grass to a height of 2 inches or less, and bag the clippings,” Dwyer says. Then, he recommends raking the lawn to remove dead grass and debris, while also loosening the upper layer of soil. “This will make it easier for seeds to take root once they’ve sprouted,” he explains. “Fill and adjust the spreader according to the instructions on the product package and apply as directed.”
Feed your lawn
Your lawn provides many environmental and health benefits – but only if it’s nourished and healthy. Dwyer says fall is also a great time to feed your lawn. “Fall is peak time for your lawn to begin storing nutrients and growing lots of strong roots,” he says. “From grass roots to blade tips, feeding in the fall will do a whole lot of good for your lawn, both now and in the spring.” Dwyer lists 3 benefits of fertilizing your lawn in the fall.
- Help rejuvenate and repair your lawn: All lawns get stressed by summer heat, drought, heavy foot traffic, or a combination of those. Applying can help replenish frazzled, worn-out grass so it recovers quicker and better. Plus, a fall feeding provides a noticeable greening that lasts longer than an unfed lawn.
- Give roots a pre-winter nutrient boost: Lawns get hungry, especially as they slow down at the end of the growing season. Fall lawn food helps your lawn grow stronger, deeper roots before cold weather and frozen soil set in.
- Make for a strong start to spring with a greener lawn: During the dormant season, it’s natural for your lawn’s growth and energy to come to a near standstill. A fall feeding gives grass a big dose of essential nutrients to store for when they’re needed most: the spring growing season. Not only will that lead to a thicker, lusher lawn, but your grass will green up earlier by as many as 2 to 6 weeks!
Keep cutting your lawn
You still need to cut your lawn in the fall, according to Susan Brandt, co-founder of . “However, make sure you keep it two and a half to three inches tall,” she advises. “A shorter lawn will reduce the energy available to the grass which is needed to obtain nutrients for healthy root systems.” Brand says a shorter lawn could also reduce your lawn’s ability to resist the cold and dryness of winter. “Mowing also chops up the leaves and turns it to mulch – which enhances the soil,” Brandt says.
Clean Up Your Leaves
Raking leaves is typical lawn maintenance in the fall. Brandt says they can be used as mulch, compost or several other applications. “One additional way I use the leaves is to chop them up with a leaf vacuum and store them outdoors in a black garbage bag,” Brandt says. “Rather than purchase new soil for my containers, I take the chopped-up leaves and mix them into the existing container soil.”
“As the leaves break down during the season, they improve the container soil and also help the soil retain a little bit more moisture,” Brandt explains. She’s been doing this for several seasons and achieving great results.
Do you have any additional fall lawn maintenance tips to share? Let us know in the comments.