With the end of summer, most folks are relieved and only too happy to put away the mower and rake and hunker down for a long winter season. Smart homeowners, on the other hand, take the opportunity to make the most of the fall season, at least where their lawns are concerned. In the fall, there are several things you can do to make the most of the end of the growing season:
- First, don’t neglect the lawn. Fertilizing in the fall can be very important in building a thicker, healthier lawn next spring. Fall feeding provides vital nutrients to plant roots; roots that continue to grow well into winter. Fertilizing with a “Winterizer” type fertilizer, built to release nutrients over a period of several weeks is highly recommended and will pay dividends next spring.
Don’t be afraid to spray those ugly weeds in the fall. As long as weeds are actively growing, weed controls will be effective. Fall broadleaf weed control is one of the most overlooked lawn care maintenance practices and can be of great benefit in cleaning up the lawn as fall fertilizers work to fill in thin spots.
- Second, rake up or use a mulching mower to chop up leaves. Leaving shredded leaves on the lawn is absolutely ok, as the small pieces of leaf tissue will decompose over winter. Leaving piles of heavy leaves on the lawn, prohibiting air and sunlight from reaching grass plants will result in dead turf in the spring. So, begin raking as leaves start to fall and keep the piles to a minimum. A little time spent raking or mulching this fall will help avoid unnecessary damage.
- Third, it goes without saying that, as we have all heard, “fall is the time for planting”. Through early fall, core aeration and over-seeding of thin areas in the lawn will help produce a thicker, more beautiful lawn in the spring. Fall is, without question, the best time to have the lawn aerated, pulling plugs and allowing that fall fertilizer, air, and water to reach actively growing grassroots. When the seed is applied after core aeration, the seed, falling into aeration holes, makes contact with the soil and is protected until it germinates and is established. Again, early fall is the right time for this important maintenance activity.
- Fourth, by summer’s end, most mowers have taken a real beating and show the wear and tear. Don’t wait to service your mower until spring, when you need it most and mower shops are jammed. This fall, have your mower serviced, providing a new spark plug, sharpening the mower blade and servicing the engine as recommended.
- Fifth, store lawn equipment and products in a protected, dry area for winter. Nothing is harder on equipment than three or four months sitting out, exposed to the elements. And, should you have leftover lawn products, it is very important they be sealed completely and stored in a dry area of your garage or shed.
Just a few actions now will pay off in a smoother start to the lawncare season next year.