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Fall Lawn Care Tips

Ensure your lawn stays green and healthy right through fall and winter.

Fall Lawn Care Tips
When it comes to lawn care, most people focus all their efforts during the spring and summer. However, if you want to keep your lawn looking healthy and beautiful, the fall is not the time to start slacking off. Caring for your lawn as winter approaches is equally important, and will have your lawn in tip-top shape by the time spring rolls around. Try these fall lawn care tips:

Keep cutting and watering

Just because the summer heat has subsided doesn't mean you should stop cutting your lawn. You might find yourself relying less on your lawn mower these days, but keep on cutting until your lawn essentially stops growing, which depending on your location should be in October or early November. Also, don't starve your lawn of water. Your lawn is still living and needs watering to build up its root system going into winter. If you find your lawn isn't getting enough rainfall, provide at least a half inch of water each week to prevent it from drying out.

Apply a fertilizer

Just as you might apply a lawn fertilizer in early spring to promote strong root development, September and October are ideal months to apply a winter prep fertilizer to keep your lawn well-fed in advance of winter. Fertilizing your lawn in the fall will help maintain root growth, and provide your lawn with vital nutrients it can store once the ground freezes. Your lawn will quickly tap into this stored-up nutrition at the first signs of spring, increasing your chances of having a lush spring lawn.

Let it breathe

Determine whether your lawn requires aeration. Using an aerator, cut a test plug and measure the thatch level (partially decomposed material that can build up between the bottom of your grass and soil surface). If it's greater than a half inch, aerate your lawn to loosen soil compaction; this will allow for more water, light and air to reach the soil. A good aeration in the fall can help set the stage for strong spring growth.

If your lawn has a thick layer of thatch, loosen it with a power dethatcher and remove the debris promptly with a rake. A thin layer of thatch can help conserve moisture and insulate your soil against extreme temperatures, but anything greater than a half inch can dry up roots and create fungal problems, which will only worsen with the onslaught of winter. Consider renting a power dethatcher from The Home Depot Tool Rental Centre to help with this task.

Plant some seed

Early fall is also a good time to seed a lawn that might be in need of some repair. As warm season weeds begin to die off, more space will open up on your lawn for new grass to sprout. New grass that can establish itself in the fall will come back more vigorous in the spring.

Keep it clean

Clear your lawn of any garden tools, children's toys and trees leaves that can smother your lawn in the fall and block nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Tree leaves offer your grass no protection from the impending snow, and can rob your lawn of much-needed fall sunlight. They can also become a slimy, soggy mess if left to decay. If you have a smaller yard, use an ordinary rake to remove these leaves; otherwise consider investing in a leaf vacuum or blower. Taking on a few small jobs in your yard during the fall season can help bring about big results the following spring.

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