Home Improvement

Fall Facts: What Should I Do to My Lawn in the Fall?

The U.S. lawn care industry is worth almost $1.14 billion, and that includes the money you spend on a yearly basis to keep your lawn looking nice and healthy.

When the cold months come, however, that lawn care tends to go out the window. It’s easy to let things go astray when the temperatures fall, but caring for your lawn in the fall is essential to its health for when warmer weather arrives again. But what can do you to keep up with everything?

Luckily, we’re here to walk you through it all. Read on for a complete guide on fall lawn maintenance.

Feed Your Lawn

This is a great thing to do as it’s going to help you keep your lawn looking lush and beautiful all year round. the key is to do two feedings throughout the fall, once early in the season and another six to eight weeks after your initial one.

The kind of fertilizer and feed you use is going to depend on the type of grass you have. You can also get creative and use a weed and feed to kill two birds with one stone. A multi-use product like that is not only going to nourish your lawn, but it’s also going to kill off weeds and any other unnecessary plants you might not want around.

Rake Often

When you neglect to rake the leave that fall onto your lawn, you’re not doing your grass any favors. Not only does it block light, but it keeps moisture trapped inside and kills all the grass that’s living underneath.

When you notice that leaves are beginning to fall, it’s important that you rake or blow them away as often as possible. Even when your trees are bare, be sure to tend to corners so you know you’re not going to be left with soggy, dead greenery.

Check Your Gutters

Aside from blowing off your lawn, it’s also important to blow out your gutters. If they become too clogged or heavy, they can block rainwater from escaping. That can lead to leaks, foundation damage, structural issues, mold, mildew, and even basement flooding.

The water has nowhere to escape, and so it’s going to start spilling over the edge of your gutters. It’s only going to become heavier once the snow hits.

Instead, take the time to get up on the roof (or hire a service to take care of your lawn) and blow everything out of the gutters. This is going to help you ensure that everything can flow freely and smoothly all fall and winter long, and you’re not going to have anything to worry about when it comes to your home’s safety.

Put Everything Into Storage

Unless you plan on hanging out in the backyard during the cold months, now is the time to put your furniture, grill, and everything else into storage until they’re ready to be used next year.

This step might feel unnecessary for some, but it can help preserve your furniture and other backyard equipment for many years to come. It’s also going to save you money when you don’t have to buy new furniture when the warm months roll around.

Clean Things Up

When we say clean things up, we mean gather all your tools and clean them off so they can store safely for the season. Also, if you’re done mowing for the winter, then be sure to perform any maintenance your lawnmower might need before you put it away for the season.

When you’re cleaning, be sure to tend to any rust or other elements that are caked onto your tools. If you notice that rust isn’t easily coming off a certain area, then be sure to give it special attention. You can use steel wool or a wire brush to remove any visible rust, and for anything that’s heavily rusted, you can use a wire brush attached to a drill bit to speed the process up for yourself.

Remember to wear safety glasses when you’re performing this maintenance. Also, be sure to use a lubricant or oil (like WD-40 or something similar) to keep rust from returning to your tools.

Don’t Stop Mowing

When we say don’t stop mowing your lawn, we really mean to wait until the right moment to stop mowing. You’ll know when you can stop by looking at the grass.

Once it stops growing for the season, you’ll know it’s no longer necessary to tend to your lawn. At this point, the soil temperature has lowered to a point that the grass has simply gone dormant. Usually, a few frosts into the cold months will signal this, but a soil temperature that remains consistently under 55 degrees Fahrenheit is another way to know your grass is done for the year.

How Long Should Grass Be?

Before this happens, it’s best to cut your grass short for a few reasons:

  • Long grass is susceptible to disease
  • Small animals will hide from predators in the grass and eat it
  • Short grass is less likely to die

When warmer weather rolls back in, though, there are a few advantages that short grass can offer. Not only are you less likely to find debris hiding in your grass, but you’re also going to experience less snow mold (which can even happen in places that don’t experience heavy amounts of snow).

You’re also going to experience faster growth times. When the grass is short, the soil underneath is more exposed to sunlight and it warms faster. When this happens, your grass is going to remain dormant for a shorter amount of time.

Keep Watering

It’s also easy to think you should stop watering your grass in the fall, but this actually isn’t the case. Instead, you should keep watering up until the ground freezes. After that, the water wouldn’t reach the grass or its roots anyway so it’d be pointless.

Also, depending on the type of grass you have, fall might be an important season for your grass’s growth. Even if you don’t notice much at the top, it’s busy establishing roots underground.

This is essential for your lawn to have a solid foundation to grow upon, and it’s also going to help repair any damage your cool-season grass took over the summer.

Lawn Pest Control Is Still Essential

Pests like stink bugs, lawn grubs, bagworms, boxelder bugs, and even slugs or snails can still remain a problem in the fall. Also, as temperatures go down, pests are going to start seeking warmth inside your home.

It’s important to start with outdoor pest control and then work your way inside. Your lawn is your first line of defense against pests, and that is going to prove the most effective place to start with preventing indoor infestations.

Spread Seed

Overseeding might sound like something to avoid when it comes to lawn care, but it’s actually the opposite of what you should do in the fall. When you overseed, you give yourself the chance to create a dense lawn, which means more protection against weeds.

This isn’t an easy task to take on, though. While fall is the best time to oversee, the task itself is somewhat challenging.

Conditions are perfect because the ground is warm, nights are cool, the sun isn’t as strong or hot during the day, and there’s plenty of moisture to go around. The challenge comes with spreading the seed.

You can’t simply broadcast a bunch of seeds into your yard and expect them all to take hold. Instead, they all have to come into full contact with the soil and remain moist until they germinate. They also have to be well established, and all of that has to happen before it gets too cold for the winter.

Renting a seed slitter is a great idea here, but they’re also notorious for leaving turf torn to bits. What method you use is ultimately up to you, but overseeding is still a great idea if you can do it effectively.

Try Aeration

Over time, the soil gets compacted and that makes it difficult for nutrients to reach the root system. When you aerate during the fall or during your grass’s growing season, you give your soil more access to the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

Fall is the perfect time for this since the soil is still warm, but not so warm and rainy that it’s going to ruin all the work you did.

To aerate, you simply have to acquire the right equipment. There are three main types of equipment you can get. Spike aerators are going to poke holes into the soil that release compaction.

Slicing aerators come equipped with rotating blades that cut or slice through the top layer but leave the soil in the ground. They create paths for air, water, and other nutrients to get through. Core and plug aerators are usually used by lawn professionals.

They remove plugs of soil from your lawn and then redeposit them at the top where they can break down and be redistributed.

Depending on the method you use, you’re going to be exposing your lawn to more nutrients and other things they wouldn’t normally get at a time they need it the most. Winter is the dormant period, which means your lawn isn’t going to be receiving a lot of nutrients for quite a while.

Adhere to a Schedule

Finally, the best thing you can do for your lawn is to ensure you stay on schedule. Everything we just talked about has to be completed at the right time, otherwise, it’s all going to prove ineffective. Aeration, for example, if done in the spring or summer is simply going to make it easier for weeds to get through the surface and sprout up among your grass.

If you fertilize too early, then the grass is going to simply die during the cold because the blades were too tender to withstand the weather. If you overseed too late, the same thing is going to happen. Everything you worked to grow isn’t going to be able to make it through the cold months.

If sticking with a schedule begins to prove too difficult, you can always call in experts for your fall lawn care. Not only are they going to know exactly when to carry out certain tasks, but they’re going to be able to ensure they get done quickly and effectively.

They’re also going to bring heavy machinery with them that you would otherwise have to rent, so you might find that hiring someone helps you save money in the process. You also won’t have to worry about hauling or working with the machinery around your yard.

Even if you hire them to only take care of a few things during the fall, you might find that having help during this time is a great relief. It’s also going to ensure that everything is done correctly the first time around, and you’re not going to have to worry about any of it once the frost hits.

Remember to Care For Your Lawn in the Fall

When you take the steps necessary to care for your lawn in the fall, then you save yourself time in the spring. Being proactive ahead of time makes things easier in the long run, so when the time comes to lounge in the sun you can do exactly that. No more worrying about starting from scratch when the time comes to get back up and running.

For more on the latest in home and lawn care, check out the rest of our blog.

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