Fall Lawn Care: 6 steps to take right now
The end of summer doesn’t mean the end of lawn care. Take these simple steps with your grass now and you’ll have a head start on a healthy lawn for next spring.
With autumn nearly upon us and winter rapidly approaching, you’re probably not spending much time thinking about your lawn. But autumn, with its cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall, is the ideal time to prepare your lawn for next spring.
Many homeowners think lawns need less care in the fall because the grass grows more slowly. In fact, just the opposite is true. During this time of year, grass is busily absorbing energy, moisture, and nutrients in preparation for a long, dormant winter. Give it a little attention now, and you’ll be rewarded with a lush, healthy spring lawn. Just follow these six tips.
KEEP ON MOWING
Continue to water and mow your lawn, as needed, throughout the fall. Then as the season draws to a close, drop the mowers blade to its lowest setting for the last two cuttings of the year. That will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass, and there will be less leaf to turn brown during the winter.
*Note: As you lower the blade, just remember not to trim off more than one-third of the grass blades at any one time. If necessary, gradually lower the cutting height until the time of the final two cuttings.
AERATE THE SOIL
Fall is also an ideal time to aerate your lawn so that oxygen, water, and fertilizer can easily reach the grass’s roots. You can rent a gas-powered, walk-behind lawn aerator for about $70 per day. The self-propelled machine will quickly punch holes into the soil and extract plugs of dirt.
RAKE THE LEAVES
I know raking leaves is no one’s idea of fun, but it’s important to remove fallen leaves from your lawn as soon as possible. Don’t wait until all the leaves have fallen from the trees to start raking. If you do, the leaves will become wet from the rain and morning dew, stick together, and form an impenetrable mat that if left unmoved will suffocate the grass and breed fungal diseases.
FERTILIZE FOR FUTURE GROWTH
Most lawn experts agree: If you fertilize your lawn only once a year, do it in the fall. The reason? Grass leaves grow much more slowly as the weather turns cool, but the grass roots and rhizomes continue to grow quickly. (Rhizomes are the horizontal plant stems that lie just beneath the soil’s surface; they produce the blades of grass above and the roots below.) A fall application of fertilizer delivers essential nutrients for the grass to grow deep roots now and to keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy start next spring.
Wait until mid-to-late fall, then apply a dry lawn fertilizer to all grassy areas; be careful not to miss any spots. Use a walk-behind spreader for optimum coverage.
FILL IN BALD SPOTS
Autumn is also a great time of year to fix any bare, bald spots in your lawn. The quickest, easiest way to do this is with an all-in-one lawn repair mixture. Sold at most garden shops and home centers, this ready-to-use mixture contains grass seed, a special quick-starter lawn fertilizer, and organic mulch.
Use a garden rake to scratch loose the soil at the bald spot in your lawn. Then spread a thick layer of the lawn repair mixture over the area. Lightly compact the mixture, then water thoroughly, and continue to water every other day for two weeks.
If broad-leaf weeds like dandelions have taken over your lawn, now’s the time to fight back. Weeds, like most plants, are in the energy-absorbing mode during the fall. They’re drinking in everything that comes their way, including weed killers. Apply an herbicide now and the weeds won’t return in the spring.
Read the package label before use. Most herbicide manufacturers recommend applying the weed killer during early-to-mid autumn, when daytime temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Early Spring Dec 28-Apr 04 Turf Builder Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food
Late Spring Apr 05-May 30 Turf Builder Weed & Feed
Early Summer May 31- Jul 25 Turf Builder Lawn Food
Early Fall Sep 13- Oct 31 Turf Builder Thick’R Lawn Tall Fescue Mix
Late Fall Nov 01 – Dec 12 Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Lawn Food
These must-do fall maintenance tips to keep your house in shape and help keep you warm this winter.
- Regularly clean gutters and downspouts. Make sure all drainage areas are unblocked by leaves and debris. Consider installing gutter guards to make the job a lot easier.
- Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings, and decks. Use caulk to fill the holes or completely replace the wood.
- Lower humidity and cooler (not yet cold) temperatures make fall a good time to paint the exterior of your home.
- Inspect your roof, or hire a licensed professional to examine your roof for wear and tear. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, replace them. If you have a lot of damage, it’s time to replace the entire roof. Also, check the flashing around skylights, pipes, and chimneys. If you have any leaks or gaps, heavy snow and ice will find its way in.
- To prevent exterior water pipes from bursting when the weather gets below freezing, turn off the valves to the exterior hose bibs. Run the water until the pipes are empty. Make sure all the water is drained from the pipes, if not; the water can freeze up and damage the pipes.
- Have your wood-burning fireplace inspected, cleaned and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Wrap water pipes that run along exterior walls with heating tape. It will save energy and prevent them from freezing.
- Clean and replace filters in your furnace or heating system. Contact a licensed heating contractor to inspect and service your gas heater or furnace to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. The utility company will often provide this service for free.
- If you use a hot water system for heating, drain the expansion tank, check the water pressure, and bleed your radiators.
- Check the attic to make sure the insulation is installed properly. The vapor barrier on insulation should face down toward the living space. If it is installed incorrectly (with the vapor barrier facing up) then the insulation will trap moisture causing possible water problems. Cut slits in the vapor barrier to allow moisture to escape. To install attic insulation, unroll the insulation with the paper side out. Install small pieces of insulation between the joists on the attic floor. Be careful not to step between the joists.
- The change in temperature and humidity and normal wear and tear can cause window seals to crack and shrink. Check your windows and doors inside and out for leaks and drafts. Caulk cracks or install weather stripping around windows and doors, including the garage door. Replace screens with storm windows and clean them if needed.
- Fall is the perfect time to divide or move perennials. Remove dead annuals and mulch hardy perennials. Annuals typically die when temperatures drop below freezing. But perennials often appear as though they too have bitten the bullet. That’s because their top growth dies back, although in most cases the root ball is hardy enough to survive even extreme temperatures, especially if it’s covered with a layer of mulch.
- The best time to mulch perennials is after the first hard freeze. Just make sure you don’t cover the crown or center of the plant, because that can lead to rot.
- Clean garden tools before storing for the winter.
- Trim dead branches out the trees to prevent them from coming down and causing damage in a winter storm.
- Pests love attics because they are full of nice warm insulation for nesting, and they offer easy access to the rest of the house. With gable vents that lead into the attic it is a good idea to install a screen behind them to keep those critters out.
- Even after closing off those entryways, pests can still find a way in. The first place to check for any unwanted guests is under the kitchen cupboards and appliances.
- Each fall, check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and put in fresh batteries. These are very important detectors to have in a home. A smoke alarm can save lives in a house fire. A carbon monoxide detector can also save lives if a home has oil or gas-burning appliances, like a furnace or water heater.
- Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless byproduct of burning oil or natural gas, and it can be deadly. For just a few dollars, a carbon monoxide detector will sound an alarm if the levels get too high.
- Always install carbon monoxide detectors according to manufacturer’s instructions. Generally they should be installed near each potential source of carbon monoxide, and within ear shot of the living and sleeping areas.