Fall Lawn Care Tips
With a few notable exceptions, fall often competes with spring as North America's busiest lawn care season.
In cool weather grass areas, the average residential bluegrass yard ends its annual growth cycle, as does the average southern sunny Bermuda grass lawn.
Year end growing season lawn care chores include fertilizer, aeration, dethatching, mowing and watering.
Fall Flower Colors
Lawn care experts almost always stay yard specific when introducing the topic of lawn fertilizing.
After a season of healthy grass growth, most homeowners can expect low nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the lawn soil. Assuming many of the same homeowners allowed small portions of grass clippings to remain on the lawn as natural nitrogen fertilizer might suggest soil sufficiently nutrient rich to require a bi-annual rather than yearly fertilizing schedule.
Nonetheless, many homeowners opt for a yearly fertilizing schedule, choosing fall as the fertilizing season. When applying fertilizer, a good rule of thumb is to wait until after the first rainy fall week in order for the soil to readily absorb the food rather than promote nutrient runoff.
Organic fertilizers work great for most lawns, keeping in mind they generally contain lower levels of nitrogen than their petroleum based commercial equivalent (see Organic vs. Manufactured Fertilizers).
For more ambitious homeowners, fall provides a good opportunity for lawn aeration and dethatching. While most homeowners use mowers that collect grass clippings throughout the mowing season, the amount of loose grass covering the ground over the season also tends to increase.
Any organic lawn material unable to decompose tends to cover the soil, adding a layer of protection for insect pests. A thatching rake, or mower attachment tool usually serves as the basic backyard thatching tool.
The increased use of tall fescue grass varieties for lawns provides additional support for a consistent lawn aeration and dethatching regimen.
Households with inconsistent lawn care schedules can unwittingly find themselves confronted by a lawn filled with two to three foot high tall fescue grasses. In many cases the grass then dies off in large clumps, covering large portions of soil.
Removing that layer of thatch from the soil helps with pest management. Regular dethatching also helps to detect any potential bare spots in the lawn, a common issue with a bunch grass such as tall fescue.
Mowing the lawn ends the fall maintenance list for cool season grass lawns and most warm season grass lawns.
Cool season grasses grow best when mowed to an average height of three inches in early fall. By the end of fall, as the winter dormant lawn season lawn approaches, a shorter cut is recommended. As always, different grass mixes might call for different optimal growing heights.
In the warmer climates, fall also marks the traditional end of the grass growing season, although many home owners opt to promote a winter growing season by reseeding with a fast growing rye grass.
Usually southern homeowners combine fall fertilization with fall over seeding. Once fertilized, the any bare soil spots, and soon to be brown patches on the lawn are ready for a coating of seeds.
Households with cool season grass lawns also use fall as the prime lawn bare spot patching season, when soil and air temperatures reach optimal seed germination and plant growth ranges.
Regardless of whether fall reseeding activities occur on cool season or warm season grass lawns, keeping the soil moist during the process promotes healthy lawn growth.
Southern home owners more inclined to a low maintenance winter lawn care routine, normally can use the fall season to mow and rake the lawn at regular intervals to insure good aeration during the winter dormancy period.
Yard trimming recycling practices often get omitted from many fall lawn care tip sheets. Considering that Americans now recycle close to went from being a country that recycled no yard waste to recycling approximately sixty percent of its yard waste (i.e., grass trimmings, leaves) in a twenty five year time span, yard trimming recycling certainly appears to be a lawn care priority for many households.
While some yard trimmings contribute to back yard compost piles, other yard trimmings get picked up at curbside and recycled at local yard care businesses.
The fall waste stream combination of raked leaves and freshly cut grass provides a double rational for fall yard trimming recycling efforts.
© 2006-2012 Patricia A. Michaels