Ensure your lawn stays green and healthy right through fall and winter.
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.
1 Feed Your Lawn
Fall is the best time to give your lawn a good feeding. As the weather begins to cool, your lawn will slow its top growth while the roots will continue to actively grow. A fall fertilizer application should be applied at the right time, when the plants are still absorbing nutrients. If the ground is frozen or the grass has stopped growing, it is too late. Feeding your lawn in the fall is crucial.
A fall feeding delivers vital nutrients to encourage deep root growth and will help your lawn to store essential nutrients over the long cold Canadian winter. The storing process will continue as long as the plant is green. At the first sign of spring, your lawn will quickly tap into the store nutrients, increasing the chances of you having a healthy green lawn.
2 Plant Some Seed
Early fall is a good time to seed a lawn that appears to be in need of some repair. Over-seeding an established lawn fills in bare spots and thickens your grass. Over-seeding immediately following aeration is highly recommended because the holes left behind by the aerator provide thousands of entry points for new grass to germinate and fill in trouble spots.
If your lawn has low spots where water collects, then you may want to take the time to level the ground and re-seed. Make sure to rake to loosen soil, add a lawn soil, then evenly distribute seed.
The best time to seed your lawn is in the early fall, when the evening temperatures are lower and the morning dew is heavier, sometime between mid-August to late-September. New grass that can establish itself in the fall will come back more vigorous in the spring.
3 Keep Cutting and Watering
As the fall season progresses, you may find yourself relying less on your lawn mower as your lawn’s growth begins to slow. However, you should keep cutting until your lawn stops growing.
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.
As the season comes to a close, for your final mowing, drop the mower blade down to a lower level than your regular season height. Trimming nice and short stops the grass from becoming matted, which encourages mould.
4 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.
5 Keep it Clean
Clear your lawn of any garden tools, children's toys and tree 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.