The end of summer doesn't mean the end of lawn care. The months of October-December are critical for the long-term health of your lawn.
Invest some time with these simple steps in the fall, and you can expect your lawn to flourish next spring!
TIP #1 - REMOVE LEAVES FROM YOUR LAWN
We know, raking isn't fun, but now that we're getting into leaf-raking season, it's important to know that fallen leaves can damage your lawn.
Leaves that become wet with dew and rain form a mat that suffocates grass and breeds fungal diseases. More leaves on the ground mean it's a bigger, thicker, more destructive "mat." So don't wait for all of the leaves to fall before you start raking!
Obviously, you don't have to rake by hand--you can use a collection bag or vacuum system with your lawnmower, which is optimal if you have a large yard or a ton of deciduous trees.
Bottom line: remove leaves so they don't become a soggy, suffocating mess that damages your lawn!
TIP #2 - MOW LOWER THAN USUAL
Keep mowing your lawn, as needed, throughout the fall.
As the growing season comes to a close, begin to lower your blade for the last two cuttings of the season.
As you lower, make sure you never take more than one-third off of the blades at any one cutting.
Your last two cuts should be at least an inch lower than normal.
While it's best for your lawn to always keep your grass high and mow on a high setting, for these last two fall cuts, you want to allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass as it goes dormant.
The end result is healthier grass that stays greener as it is less likely to have leaf browning throughout the winter!
TIP #3 - LOOSEN THE SOIL VIA AERATION
Loosening the soil prevents compaction, controls thatch and allows water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach the root system.
A professional-grade core aerator is the best tool for the job. At Grassmasters, we use top-notch equipment, and our experienced staff aerates your yard efficiently and at the right time of year.
However, if you're the DIY type, we recommend renting a professional core aerator instead of using a manual tool. We've even seen some people use a pitchfork or other fork-like tools or spiked shoe gadgets to "aerate" their lawns, but this only adds to the compaction since cores are not removed from the soil!
We are posting this in November, but it's not too late to get the benefits of aeration. Don't put it off until spring--spring aeration can make it easier for weeds to establish, so it's better to do it late in the fall than try to put it off until spring!
Overseeding is typically done with aeration, but the recent hard frosts have spelled the end of the prime season for establishing new grass.
Check out the Illinois Extension for more about core aeration.
TIP #4 - FERTILIZE TO WINTERIZE YOUR LAWN
Your lawn needs the right winterizing fertilizer, and it needs it right now!
While the plants may grow more slowly, or not at all, the root system is active all the way up until the soil itself freezes hard, and that typically doesn't occur until mid-to-late December.
Even with hard frosting or even some snow, the ground temperatures are high enough to cause melt and keep the root system active.
In the fall, your grass needs a shot of the plant sugars that protect roots from freezing. Those same sugars also give the entire grass plant energy to bounce back early in the spring.
Sugars are produced by chlorophyll, which grass produces in abundance when there's ample nitrogen.
That's why we apply and recommend a slow-release fertilizer with the right blend of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Potassium is also vital in the fall since it aids root growth and adds protection against disease, increases drought tolerance, and increases cold resistance.
You need to winterize your lawn by the end of November to allow your lawn to continue receiving critical nutrients and prepare for true winter dormancy!
TIP #5 - TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Timing is the most overlooked element of lawn care!
For example, overseed too late, and the seedlings will be too tender to survive.
Fertilize too early, and the grass will send up tender blades that will get hammered by the cold.
Fertilize too late, and the roots won't be able to absorb all those nutrients you're feeding them.
Thinking about aerating in the spring because you can't get around to it this fall? Spring aeration can make it easier for weed seeds to get established.
These are just a few examples!
The best way to get a perfect lawn care schedule? Let Grassmasters worry about it! We apply the right products at the right times all year long.
For our complete lawn care calendar, click HERE.
Beautiful, hearty lawns are built in the fall.
If you're ready for the best lawn on the block, take the time to apply the tips we shared in this post.
Of course, we're happy to partner with you in the health and well-being of your lawn.
Just fill out our web form HERE, or call us at 618-228-7400.
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