It’s time to change up your fall lawn care routine Image

It’s time to change up your fall lawn care routine

By Contributor on Sep 07, 2016

In many parts of the country, the cooler days and chilly nights of fall are setting in. That means it’s time to change your lawn care routine to prepare for the winter dormancy season. The right fall lawn care regimen now will mean a lusher, greener lawn come spring.

Of course, the right fall lawn care routine will depend on your lawn — do you have cool-season grasses, or warm-season turf? Each has specific chores. But there are lawn care chores appropriate for all lawns at this time of year. Make sure you’re using fertilizer appropriately during the fall months, giving your lawn enough water, and mowing at the right height, so that your lawn will be ready when the snow starts to fall.

What kind of grass are you growing?

Before you can care for your grass during the fall, you need to know what kind of grass it is. Some species of grass prefer cooler weather, and these cool-season turf grasses, like fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, will need to be watered and fertilized during the fall, when they are still growing normally. Warm-season turf grasses, on the other hand, are not enjoying as much active growth during the fall months, so you’ll need to care for them differently.

Caring for cool-season grasses

If you’re a growing cool-season grass, make sure you continue to water your lawn consistently throughout the fall. It may not be blistering hot anymore, but your cool-season grass loves this weather, and it wants to grow. Following that logic, you’ll want to fertilize your lawn at this time, applying about a pound of nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. You can go ahead and mow cool-season grasses to the normal height, and if you have bare patches, go ahead and seed now for more even coverage in spring.

Caring for warm-season grasses

If you’re growing a warm-season grass, you may want to seed with annual ryegrass or another annual cool-season grass so you can enjoy a green lawn during the cooler winter months. These annual grasses will die when the warm weather returns, so your perennial warm-weather grasses can return. Avoid adding fertilizer at this time, so your warm-weather grasses can harden off appropriately.

Fall lawn care tips

Fall lawn care tips for all types of grasses

No matter what kind of grass you’re growing, there are some lawn care tips everyone should follow in the fall. Apply weed killer to any broadleaf weeds that appear in your lawn during this time.

Have your soil pH tested and take steps to amend the soil pH if necessary, either by adding lime to reduce acidity or sulfur to reduce alkalinity.

Rake to remove lawn thatch and aerate your soil. You should also remove dead leaves, either by raking or blowing, so they don’t smother your grass by depriving it of light.

You should also raise your mower height by about half an inch at this time, to compensate for the slowed growth of your grass. No matter what type of grass you’re growing, you should never cut off more than an inch from the top of the blades, and you should leave grass clippings on the lawn to return nutrients to the soil.

Keeping your grass long like this can help act as a natural weed killer — the longer grass keeps weed seedlings from getting the sunlight they need to grow, choking them out before they become a problem. This can minimize the amount of weed killer you’ll need to apply to your lawn in order to keep weeds under control.

You can continue mowing your grass in the fall until it goes into winter dormancy and stops growing. Once you’ve completed that final mow, don’t forget to drain the gas out of your lawn mower for winter storage.

A beautiful lawn also goes a long way in boosting your home's curb appeal. If you're thinking of selling this fall or perhaps next spring and you're starting to look for a new home, then taking care of your lawn is a very important thing to do!

When fall weather sets in, it’s time to change up your lawn care routine in preparation of the winter season. Care for your grass properly, depending on what type of grass you’re growing, and take steps to kill weeds, aerate the soil, and remove lawn thatch and dead leaves. Proper lawn care will pay dividends in just a few months, when warmer spring weather brings with it a healthy, lush, and beautiful lawn.

By Tiffany Rowe

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