The cooler weather is approaching. You may even see the beginnings of fall as leaves change color.
Now that the summer is ending, it’s time to think about what you should do for your lawn.
You may think, “Do I really need to care for my lawn in the fall?”
The answer is yes.
There are many things you should do in the fall to prepare your lawn for the winter. This will mean an even more beautiful landscape come next spring.
Here are some important fall tips for a beautiful lawn and landscape.
But First … What Happens to Your Lawn in the Fall?
A healthy and lush landscape above ground comes from a strong root system below ground.
And the fall is the ideal time to help grass develop its root system.
It’s important to take the following lawn maintenance steps in early to mid-fall—not when winter is upon us or when summer is still here.
The fall has the right weather to let your lawn benefit most from these activities.
1. Continue to Mow Your Lawn
Continue mowing your lawn for a bit longer—at least until it stops growing. And even, perhaps, until the first frost arrives.
If you are reseeding, mow new seed when it reaches a height that is one-third higher than its normal growing height.
Don’t cut the new grass too short; this can hurt the root system.
2. Rake Often and Dethatch
Fallen leaves are beautiful. Kids and pets love to frolic in them.
Unfortunately, these leaves can hurt your lawn—and family. They can harbor disease-carrying ticks and other garden pests. More reason to remove them.
A wet leaf covering on your landscape can also promote fungi.
Pest and fungi concerns aside, leaves on your lawn block out much needed sunlight. This keeps the lawn from getting all the sunlight it needs.
Even if you have a leaf blower, you may get better results by manually raking soggy leaf and thatch buildup.
Rake on a weekly basis to prevent leaves from accumulating on your property.
Be sure not to let leaves remain on your lawn over the winter.
3. Aerate for a Healthy Lawn
Throughout the summer months, soil compresses and lawns suffer from heat stress—leaving brown patches and bare spots.
Even the most vigilant watering program may not have been enough to protect your lawn from the sun.
When you aerate in the fall, you are helping the grass be healthier in the spring.
Aeration loosens soil and prevents thatch buildup. It also improves soil drainage and helps nutrients, air and water get down to lawn roots.
Best aeration occurs in the fall when the soil is moist—but not too wet.
Aeration in the spring may only help weeds take root on your property.
4. Reseed Your Lawn in the Fall
Usually by the end of the summer, your lawn isn’t looking as lush as it did a few months ago.
There are probably areas of bare spots and dead grass. If the summer was harsh, it might even be in a lot worse shape.
Reseed these damaged areas in the fall after the lawn is aerated and dethatched. Using high-quality seed will make a big difference.
Be sure not to overseed too late in the fall, or the new grass won’t survive the winter. The warmer fall soil will encourage quick germination. And the cooler air temperatures will make sure the young grass doesn’t develop heat stress.
A lawn spreader works well to seed larger areas; use a hand spreader for smaller ones.
Tamp down the areas of new seeding to help the seed stay in place for germination. For these seeds to germinate, they will need to touch the soil.
You can cover newly seeded areas with straw or leaf compost.
5. The Fall is a Good Time to Fertilize
The fall is by far the best time to fertilize your lawn.
Fertilize with a product that will help keep your fall lawn healthy, given your location and climate conditions.
Fertilizer provides nutrients that your lawn will need to survive the winter and grow come the spring.
A great time to fertilize is after you aerate your lawn and reseed. The aeration will make sure that the nutrients from the fertilizer can go deep into the soil.
At Sponzilli Landscape Group, we have been moving toward the elimination of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers on NJ and NYC lawns. We don’t use harsh chemical products and instead create healthy lawns naturally.
6. Don’t Forget to Water
Your lawn will still need water in the fall—just not as much as in the spring and summer when heat makes water evaporate quickly. The cooler fall days mean there’s less evaporation.
If you have just reseeded, keep the seed moist until it germinates. Water when necessary.
Afterward, fall rainfall may offer enough water for your lawn. Pay attention to how much rain your lawn is getting.
Ideally, your lawn gets an inch or more of water each week. If your lawn isn’t receiving this, water it.
Some people use a rain gauge to remove the guesswork.
Watering also helps fertilizer dissolve and soak into the ground.
7. Check for Grubs and Other Lawn Pests
Your lawn may have uninvited and unwanted pests. Sometimes it’s easy to see the damage they caused.
A grub infestation will cause areas of thinning grass. These pests will enjoy their winter stay and cause more damage once your lawn renews in the spring.
The fall is the best time to take care of lawn pests—before they do damage.
Common lawn pests in New Jersey include:
- Chinch bugs
8. Weed Carefully
The fall is a good time to weed your landscape—within reason.
It’s best to pull out the weeds by hand.
Weed control products often interfere with germination of newly planted grass.
You can mow larger areas of weeds and simply reseed.
In the spring, you can undertake stronger weed control efforts. The soil is warming, and your new grass isn’t as vulnerable.
At Sponzilli Landscape Group, we create beautiful landscapes. Contact us to inquire about our organic lawn care, or our landscape planning and development.