The end of summer does not equal the end of lawn care.
Normally, homeowners think of lawn care during the spring and summer. But the cooler months of the year is not a hiatus from taking care of your lawn. The cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall the season ushers in is a welcome change for your lawn, and the ideal time to prepare your lawn for the upcoming spring season – but only if you want thick, lush green grass.
Continue Mowing Through Fall. It might seem like your grass stops growing in the fall, but in reality your lawn is quickly absorbing nutrients and moisture to prepare for the winter that lies ahead. Keep watering and mowing your grass as needed, then as the season tapers to an end, drop your mower's blade to its lowest settings for the final two cuts of the year. About two inches tall is best for most grasses. As you cut your grass at a lower setting during the fall, it helps prevent your grass from matting down under leaves and snow, and a shorter grass length allows more sunlight to reach the grass, which in turns yields fewer unsightly brown patches during summer. But it's important not to cut your grass too short – you don't want to allow more weeds to get a foothold.
For Future Growth, Continue to Fertilize. If you only fertilize your lawn once a year, the best time to do it is in the fall. Many cool weather grasses respond the best to feeding in early September then again in late October or early November. The nitrogen in fertilizer spurs your grass to green up earlier and look better. Why is this? Grass blades grow much slower during the colder weather, but the grass roots and rhizomes continue to grow quickly. These are the horizontal plant stems that lie just under the soil's surface – they produce the blades of grass above and the roots down below. When you apply fertilizer in the fall, it delivers important nutrients so that your grass will grow deep roots and hold onto nutrients all winter long.
It's also a good time to fertilize shrubs and trees because many of them are located in mulch beds that use up nitrogen as they decompose. And as you rake away the leaves from your beds, you're depriving these plants from the nutrients that decomposing leaves would provide. Fertilizing your trees this time of year will promote root growth.
Rake up Those Leaves. It's not the most fun thing to do, but it's vital to remove fallen leaves as soon as possible. Just like homeowners, lawns need to breathe too. They can get smothered if a thick layer of leaves is left behind over the winter, which can cause snow mold. In addition, thick layers of fallen leaves can inhibit the growth of your grass. As mentioned above, your grass remains active when cool weather predominates. It allows grass a break from weather that is too hot – and with enough sunlight, nutrients and water, cool season grasses revitalize during the fall. If you don't rake your leaves, your grass will likely be deprived of these vital growth stimulating sources. Don't wait for all the leaves to fall before you begin to tackle the chore, if you do, you'll give your leaves a chance to stick together from rain and morning dew and form a formidable mat and breeding ground for disease.
Annihilate Unwanted Weeds. With fall yard care on the agenda, it's time for weed control. Weeds grow the same way your grass does – with sunlight, water and nutrients. During this time of year, weeds are also soaking up all the energy they possibly can – including herbicide and weed killers. As the plant pulls nutrients and prepares to store them in the roots over the winter, the herbicide will destroy them. While there's not one weed killing method or herbicide that works at killing every single type of weed that might be plaguing your yard, you can at least get the upper hand on some of them.
Take Care of Bald Spots. We all hate those bare, bald spots. Early autumn is also the ideal time to fix up these unsightly patches. Whether you've got spots from heavy foot traffic, drought, disease, chemical burn or insect infestation – it's important to determine what your culprit is. Once you've got a diagnosis, you can begin to repair the damage. There are several options out there, including lawn patch products that combine grass seed, fertilizer and mulch blends all in one bag. In preparation, use a garden rake to scratch the soil loose over the bald patch. Spread a thick layer of the lawn patch product over the area and lightly compact the mixture. Water well, and continue to water every other day for two weeks.
Aerate Away. August through October is the ideal time to aerate as your grass is breaking its dormancy and beginning a period of active growth. Aerating your lawn allows oxygen, water, and fertilizer to easily reach the grassroots. The best way to get the job done is with a mechanical core aerator, which most garden centers will happily rent to you for roughly $70 for a few hours. You may want to enlist the help of some friends and family to deal with the heavy equipment. If you have a huge property, you might consider hiring a landscaping contractor to get the job done.
Hughes Real Estate Group helps both buyers and sellers throughout the Boise, Idaho valley, including Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, and Garden City. Get your search started today at (208) 571-7145.