Fall is the time most lawns will look their best. Both shoot and root growth are at their peak, and many of the largest lawn stressors like heat, drought, weeds, diseases, and insects are all starting to naturally diminish. This makes the fall the best–and most critical–time to invest in the long-term health of your turf. Knowing this, here is how to avoid some of the most basic fall lawn care mistakes.
Not doing anything. Fall is the best time to grow grass in the Northeast. It is also the best time to improve the health and vigor of your lawn for next spring. With temperatures falling, school back in session, and the pace of life picking back up for many, it also tends to be a time when people are not as focused on their lawn. Don’t let that be you! Nutrients, especially Potassium, are incredibly important at this time of year, so make sure to give your turf the fertility it needs to thrive. It’s with this in mind that we designed our custom blended Winterizer Enhancement that can be easily added to your final service of the season. Simply let us know you’d like to add this treatment or add it yourself online through the customer portal!
Delaying aeration until the spring. Whenever you run a heavy machine that disrupts the soil, you run the risk of crabgrass breakthrough as well as weakened turf. In the springtime, most lawns receive a crabgrass pre-emergent. This application sets up a “barrier” to prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating. When you disrupt the soil by aerating, this barrier can fail, inviting crabgrass to thrive when temperatures rise in the summer. Anytime you want to do anything that will disrupt the soil, it is best to do it in the fall.
Leaving bald and thinning spots until the spring. Turf has two optimal growing seasons–the spring and the fall. Waiting until spring to take care of these bare or thinning areas can prove problematic, however. When seeding in the spring, you cannot use most pre-emergent weed controls as these products will prevent the germination of your new grass seed as well. Newly germinating grass is also sensitive and very susceptible to stresses that come in summer time (heat, drought, insects, and weeds). By seeding in the fall, your new grass has two growing seasons (the fall and the following spring) to be prepared for the summer stressors that await.
Leaving too much leaf cover on the lawn. Picking up leaves in the fall is hard work and a hassle, but letting leaves accumulate on your lawn until all have fallen is a common lawn care mistake. As the leaf litter builds up, it smothers the existing turf and blocks sunlight from reaching the blades. Lawns need as much sun as they can absorb during the autumn months to store nutrients for their winter dormancy. Light-starved grass tends to weaken and die, so rake those leaves up as much as you can as part of your fall lawn care–or invest in a good mulching blade for your mower!
Overwatering. As temperatures fall and we get more rainfall, lawns experience less heat and/or drought stress than they do in the tough summer months. If you are used to your summer watering practices, make sure you adjust accordingly as the seasons change, as part of your fall lawn care plan. If you overwater your lawn with unnecessary irrigation, your turf may have a difficult time “hardening off” for winter dormancy. A rain gauge can help with determining if the lawn is receiving enough water. For more information on watering, take a look at our blog post Watering: Getting it Right.
Lawn care is a partnership and we’re here to help. If you ever have questions about your fall lawn care, or additional treatments and services we can provide to keep your lawn looking and feeling its best, simply reach out!