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Fall Lawn Care: 8 Key Steps for Success

Fall Lawn Care: 8 Key Steps for Success

21 Sep 2023 Read time: 4 min

If you do your landscaping, you should know that lawn care should be done in the fall before the frost. Autumn is a critical time to groom your lawn in preparation for beautiful growth next spring. Fall may not seem like the time to think about caring for your yard, considering that your grass will go dormant in winter. You may think your grass doesn't even grow in the fall. But what is going on underground is essential.

To keep your yard healthy, check out these eight tips on how to care for your lawn in the fall:

Keep Mowing
Grass continues to grow until a hard frost, so there is no reason to stop mowing come autumn. Continue cutting your grass until it stops growing. Don't forget to winterize your mower once you call it quits for the season. Winterizing includes cleaning and sharpening the blades, changing the oil and spark plugs, inspecting the mower for damage and cleaning the air filter. 

Water When Needed
Cool weather and autumn rain result in less water evaporation, which provides your lawn with plenty of natural moisture for the grass. Water your grass if the lawn isn't getting one inch or more of rain in the fall.

Rake Often
You may enjoy the look of a blanket of colorful leaves or think that rotting leaves feed your lawn, but leaves on the lawn block out sunlight and can prevent grass from making food. Also, the moisture the fallen leaves hold can lead to lawn fungi. Start raking as soon as the leaves fall to avoid fungus and blotting out the sun. Even after the leaves stop falling, continue to rake when winds blow leaves back onto your property — raking at least once a week gives you a chance to enjoy the fall weather and check on the condition of your grass.

Aerate Your Lawn
Over summer months, lawns experience varying degrees of soil compaction and heat stress, depending on your climate. These two problems often cause most of the brown, thinning grass you see in summer's hotter, dryer months.

Aerating your lawn is removing soil plugs from the lawn to open passageways for precious nutrients to reach the grass's roots, nutrients they often struggle to bring in when the dirt has become dry, hard and compacted. Aerating in the fall before a first hard frost will help your lawn be healthy and green next spring and summer seasons. It would be best if you used professional equipment to aerate, so talk to a landscaper or rent an aerator for the best results. Aerating the lawn is usually followed by lawn fertilization, which will be covered next.

Apply a Nitrogen-Rich Fertilizer
Another way to prep your lawn for a long winter and a green and healthy future is to fertilize your lawn in the fall. A fertilizer that is rich in nutrients and nitrogen is your best choice. Fertilizer gives your lawn the nutrients it needs to get through the winter and helps the grass grow more robust in spring. Because of this, fall is the most critical time of year to fertilize a healthy lawn. It is always a good idea to aerate and then fertilize. Doing so will ensure nutrients reach deep into the earth.

Seed Your Lawn to Fill in Bare and Burned Spots
As mentioned, many lawn patches can die during the summertime, so it's an excellent idea to resurrect those areas with suitable grasses. Keep in mind, however, that seeds have to be in contact with the soil to germinate, and it can be challenging to thoroughly cover an area of grass. Use a stiff rake for scratching the surface of your dirt, and apply a thin layer of seed to the bare spots. Ideally, you'll want to carefully spread a thin layer of soil over the seeds to ensure they are under, at the most, a ¼ inch of dirt. Then sprinkle water lightly so the seeds do not pop up through the soil and run off the bare area.

Keep Up With Lawn Pest Control
Insects may still cause issues that will spring up after winter. If you notice pests or bugs on your grass in the fall, take care of it immediately. Weeds can also be considered lawn pests, and autumn is a great time to uproot weeds or use safe, plant-based weed control. When used as directed, many pest control applications are pet-friendly and safe to be around. Those are usually made with essential oils like thyme and clove oil.

Keep a Tight Schedule

Keep up with your fall lawn care. When to start your fall lawn care is essential, so be mindful when performing these tasks. For instance, if you fertilize and seed the grass too late into the season, the soil won't be able to take in nutrients. Be sure to aerate when the hot weather is over, but do it before the frost. If you struggle to find time to work on your lawn this fall, or if you'd like to put your yard in expert hands, consult neighbors on what landscaping companies they use.  

Fall's cool, moist weather helps your grass roots strengthen and taking advantage of this growing period will influence your lawn's overall health and growth next spring and summer.

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