While many homeowners think of fall as the end of the gardening year and begin to neglect their yards, lawn pros and organic gardeners see the fall as the beginning of lawn season, and do what they can to improve the lawn and soil quality at this time.
In the fall, especially in the North, lawns have the opportunity to re-build, repair and thicken up after going through the stresses of summer. The lawn attempts to expand its root system at this time, digging in and getting to more of the soil nutrients. It also increases blade growth, making more carbohydrates (food), and some of this food is stored for use in the spring.
What are some ways to take advantage of this natural cycle?
Early Fall Fertilizing
In our lawn service business, we save our heaviest fertilizing of the year for the early fall. This stimulates growth and helps the grass send out tillers and runners to fill in thin spots. It also helps the grass produce the food that it stores to help it through the winter and which gets off to a good start in the spring. Our All-In-One For Lawns fertilizer (which also aerates and dethatches) contains mycorrhizae–beneficial root fungus–which will help the grass roots draw even more nutrients from the soil as it thickens the root network.
The early fall is the absolute best possible time to seed your lawn if you live in the north. The weather will be cooler and moister, and there will be less weed and disease pressure to contend with. Get new grass seed established in the early fall and it will thicken further in the spring. Seed any bare or thin areas now and up till early October.
There are many reasons to over-seed your lawn. Aside from thickening it up, you can introduce newer, more heat- insect- and disease-tolerant grass types. A simple overseed, if your lawn does not have a thatch barrier, can be done this way: Spread seed over the existing grass, water heavily to work the seed down to the soil. Then keep the soil damp for a few weeks.
If you do have a thatch layer in your lawn, try our Biological Dethatcher to break it down before the colder weather sets in.
Keep the grass fairly high into the early fall (unless your lawn is mostly bentgrass-which needs to be cut shorter). This will help the grass root deeper, thicken up and build up food reserves. Don’t start mowing short just because the weather turns cooler. Lawn season is not over yet!
When the lawn’s growth begins to slow down, that is your signal to begin mowing shorter. Gradually lower the mowing height so it is 1 ½ “ high or less before winter. Bentgrass lawns can be cut even shorter. Also, be sure to keep the leaves from matting up on the lawn.
Stay tuned for more fall lawn care tips next week!