It’s still warm and the nights have hardly begun to cool here in Colorado Springs. The leaves are still (mostly) green and wildflowers continue to bloom. With all the moisture we got this year in July and early August, your well-cared-for lawn still looks great. But it is mid-September, and we know that in a few short weeks a definite change will settle in, signaling that winter will soon be upon us, and you will need to use some winter lawn care techniques for a healthy lawn wake-up next spring.

Before your lawn goes to sleep, here are a few tips for getting your lawn ready for the cold season that might help you save time and money next spring when your grass does wake up.

Aerate and Fertilize

Depending on the kind of grass that is planted in the yard, it is important to get it prepared for winter so that it can grow green and lush in the springtime.

Cool-Season Grasses

The ideal time to get cool-season grass winterized is fall by fertilizing it.  During the fall cool-season grasses have a tendency to be firm and can use a thorough fertilizing.  When aerated, cool-season grasses also thrive.  The process of aeration involves making holes within the dirt.  That helps the grass roots get extra water, nutrients and air to help them grow deep within the ground.

Warm-Season Grasses

Frequently warm-season grasses turn dry and brown during both the fall and winter, however they need some tender loving care still.  Although growth is slowed down, potassium-rich fertilizer and a sufficient amount of watering in the fall will allow your warm-season grass to grow much better during the spring as well as the summer.  It has been proven that potassium helps warm-season grasses cope with colder temperatures as well as other environmental factors that can cause the grass to become damaged.

Fix Dry Patches

Are there dry patches in your yard due to the hot summer weather? You might need to plant grass in places where there was none previously.  Grasses that get plenty of foot traffic have a tendency to thin out.  That makes it more likely for it to grow weeds in addition to making your grass appear bare.

Fall is the perfect time for planting cool-season or cool-weather grass seed since the soil is still warm despite the fact that the air is chilly.  That means that less weeds are attempting to compete with the same soil.  The grass seeds that you plant also will receive more sunlight given that the trees are less shady when the leaves are falling.

Before any seed is applied, make sure your grass is cut a bit shorter and get rid of the extra grass clippings to make sure the grass seed is able to grow.  Next, use the same spreader that you used for fertilizing and just spread the seed across the lawn.  Try to spread it evenly so that there are fewer clumps once the grass starts to grow.  The soil needs to be kept moist for a few weeks until the seedlings have grown in height to around two inches.

Remember that different seeds are going to have different needs.  Make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow them.

Water Your Lawn

Once it is fall again many people start spending more time inside than they do during the summer.  So many people have a tendency to forget to water their lawns during the fall. While the weather is warm and there is no freeze at night, you can keep your sprinkler system on so the grass won’t dry out.  When the soil is kept moist it will help to prevent your grass from getting to dried out, possibly dying over the winter.

Use the proper watering techniques for your local climate to make sure your grass gets enough water and doesn’t die of thirst or drown.  Your grass will often need as much water during the fall as it does in the spring and summer.  However, also make sure you don’t over water your grass since that can damage the roots and prevent your grass from becoming lush. Here’s a great resource for lawn water needs in Colorado – http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/watering-established-lawns-7-199/

Mow

Make sure to mow your lawn a couple of times before winter hits.  Mowing your lawn in the fall will help to keep your lawn healthy and strong and make sure that your grass grows lush and healthy.

Make sure your mower blade is kept sharp.  Over the past couple of months it probably was used a lot and may be a bit on the dull side.  A dull mower blade can leave cuts behind that cause the tips of your grass to turn brown and might also make your lawn be more susceptible to getting diseases.

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