Fall has officially begun and you may think that any type of lawn maintenance is done. However, you need to think again. If you want a lawn that is thick, green, and healthy when springtime rolls back around, then you need to follow a few very important steps.
Leaves may look pretty and be fun to play in, but they are not good for grass. They block the sunlight and trap in moisture, potentially being fatal to the turf underneath. Blow or rake the leaves away as much as you can, and even after the trees become bare, continue getting rid of the heap of leaves that have piled up in the corners. If you don’t, the grass will be dead come spring.
Grass keeps growing up to the first hard frost, so you will need to cut it regularly at the ideal height of 2 ½-to-3 inches. If you it gets too long, the grass will mat and be susceptible to fungi such as snow mold.
Cutting grass too short is just as bad as keeping it too long. If you cut grass too short, it will curtail the root system and stops the lawn’s ability to withstand the cold, dry winter temperatures. Mowing regularly not only gets rid of the leaves, but it chops them up leaving behind a soil-enhancing mulch.
Even though there is more rain, dew, and less evaporation during this time of year, that doesn’t mean you should let up on watering. It may not be enough water to keep the grass roots well-hydrated and healthy during the winter months.
If your lawn is receiving at least an inch of water a week, then keep the sprinklers or irrigation system running until the end of October. You will then want to disconnect the hoses and flush the irrigation system to keep your pipes and spigots from freezing.
It is a good idea to aerate your lawn once every couple of years. This prevents the soil from becoming compacted and covered with thatch, which is a thick layer of roots, stems, and debris that stops water, oxygen, and nutrients from getting to the soil. A core aerator fixes these problems by punching holes through the hatch and pulling out plugs of soil. The best time to aerate your lawn is right before fertilizing in the fall. The holes will allow the fertilizer to reach the roots where it does the most good. Waiting until spring will only make it easier for weed seeds to get established.
Grass roots not only benefit from water to last the winter, they also benefit from fertilizer. The plant sugars protect roots from freezing and gives the plant the energy to bounce back when spring arrives. These sugars are created by chlorophyll, which grass produces an abundance of when there is enough nitrogen. If you fertilize too late, the grass roots won’t be able to absorb the nutrients being fed to them. If you fertilize too early, the grass will sprout tender blades will get hit by the cold.
Over-seeding existing turf in the Fall is a good idea because the ground is still warm, there is plenty of moisture, the nights are cool and the sun is not as hot. However, over-seeding is a challenging chore. You can’t spread seeds over your lawn and expect them to take hold. They have to be in full contact with the soil, kept moist until they germinate, and be well-enough established before it gets too cold. If you overseed to late, the seedlings will be too tender to survive.
All of the steps above need to be done at the right time in order to get the best results. Otherwise, your efforts will be wasted.
If it is difficult for you to stick to a schedule or feel overwhelmed just thinking about preparing your lawn for the fall, contact St. Louis Select Landscaping today so our lawncare experts can help you. Allowing us to help maintain your lawn will help ensure the work gets done when it should so you can enjoy a thick carpet of green grass next year.