The most important season when it comes to lawn care maintenance is Fall, and it is just as important as spring is for your grass. There are a number of things that need to be done during the fall, and all this is to help your lawn prepare for winter. Fall is the season when the lawn will be at its best in terms of looks, so Fall lawn care is not to be missed!
Fall is the ideal time no matter the lawn type you have (especially the Cool Season Grasses). The weather will be cooling off and this means that the grass will not risk any drought conditions, which is what often happens during the summer here in dry Colorado Springs. Hopefully, there will also be some rain, providing your lawn with a boost in overall health.
There are a number of steps that you can follow to take full advantage of the great conditions during the fall. Here is a great fall maintenance program that will help you get the best out of your lawn.
Aerate and Dethatch
If you have cool season grass, it is a good idea to aerate and dethatch. Doing these things will be stressful and damaging (this is necessary because it will end up being beneficial for your lawn) and you should do this when there is active growth. Fall is the perfect time for aeration and dethatching for cool season grasses. Late spring or early summer is the perfect time to do it when you have warm season grasses.
If your lawn has heavy traffic, then there is a good chance that your soil has been heavily compressed. This will limit the development and penetration of roots, and also reduce the level of oxygen in the soil. With core aeration, plugs of soils are pulled from the ground, and this will leave the soil to open and also expanding into the holes that have been left behind. You can also take advantage of the plugs that have been pulled from the soil to do an analysis of thatch that has built up in the lawn. You should do an examination of the core or plug that is complete. This is not as complicated as it may seem because you have a great view and you can easily see the amount of thatch that has built up. If you notice the thatch having a thickness of more than half an inch, then dethatching is a good idea.
Fall is a great time to fertilize, and this is even better than in the spring. Many of the programs for fertilization during fall usually put emphasis on Potassium (which is the third key element in a fertilizer) with minimal amounts of phosphorous and nitrogen to some extent. You will find that a typical fall fertilizer for cool season grass to have 22-3-14. This means Nitrogen is 22%, Phosphorous is 3%, and Potassium is 14%. The potassium and nitrogen in the fertilizer will help the lawn grass grow a more extensive root system and also the development of shoots and new stems. Another reason to fertilize during this season is that it will lead to a buildup in carbohydrates store, which will help your plants make it through winter.
Fall feeding will prove to be beneficial to both types of grass, warm season and also cool season. You can feed cool-season grasses twice in the fall, the first in early September and the second late October. For the warm season grass, you should do it in the early fall, and the perfect time is early September. Feeding the grass this time is beneficial even though the warm grass is starting the period of slow leaf growth, it can dedicate the resources it has (including fertilizer) to the growth of the root system and storage of carbohydrates. To learn more, check out the section covering fertilization.
You should always mow the lawn till it enters dormancy and there is no active grass growth. There is no need for height adjustments (the jury is still out there on the issue of mowing lower when preparing for winter). If you decide to mow lower, then you should make sure that it is not lower than 20% of the height that you usually mow to.
Cleaning up the leaves that have fallen from the trees is another important part of fall maintenance. When you leave the leaves on the lawn for a long period of time, then you are robbing it the benefit of air, sun, and water. These are the essential elements that are needed for a healthy and beautiful lawn. Completely removing leaves is a good idea, although you use a mulching blade when dealing with small quantities.
Other Fall Lawn Help
Fall is still an active growing season for grass, making it the perfect time to reseed your new lawn or even overseeding an existing one. There are two types of overseeding that can be done during the fall season. The first is overseeding an existing cool season grass using seeds from the same type of grass in order to fill any thin or bald spots. The second is overseeding a warm season lawn using the coll season grass so that it will have a green look in winter. Many people prefer to use rye grasses when overseeding their lawns.
Both annual and perennial grasses can be used to overseed the warm season grasses. Many people choose annual rye because it won’t be competing with the warm grass once the winter season is over. Choosing a perennial rye will end up growing and competing with the warm grass.
Whether you are starting a new lawn or overseeding one that already exists, it is a good idea to do proper preparation of the lawn bed because it will result in a high rate of germination with the seed.