Tips for Fall Lawn Care

Tips for fall lawn care

Summer lawn care is mostly a matter of fighting the heat, while late fall brings preparation for harsh winter weather. What about the time in between? As temperatures drop, there are some changes you can make to keep your lawn green and healthy.

Watering

Your lawn needs plenty of water to survive the heat of the summer, but as temperatures drop, heat and evaporation are less of an issue. Gradually lower the amount you water you use to keep the soil moist without saturating it. To keep your lawn at its healthiest, you’ll need to keep watering until the first freeze.

If you have an irrigation system, now is a good time to schedule end-of-season maintenance and shutdown.

Mowing

Mow by height, not by time. Grass growth will gradually slow down from late summer to the first freeze; your final mow may be as long as a month after your previous mow. As always, limit the amount of grass you cut to 1/3 of the total grass height. If you need to mow more, split it into two mows with a couple days in between to let the grass recover.

Diagnosing and Treating Brown Patches

Summer weather can force grass to become dormant, turning it brown. This is fine, as it helps the grass survive drought and heat. Once temperatures drop, this grass will come out of dormancy and turn green again. If brown areas don’t spring back to life, your soil is probably lacking in nutrients. Now is a good time to get a soil test so you know exactly what your lawn is missing.

As daily high temperatures drop into the 60s, warm-season grasses will retreat as warm-season grasses spring to life. If your lawn turns brown during this time, overseeding with a cool season variety will extend the growing season.

Treat Grubs

A few grubs are a normal sight toward the end of summer, but an infestation can cause major problems for your lawn. Their activity can turn soil spongy and even separate the root system of your grass from the ground, letting you peel it up like it’s freshly-laid sod. Grubs are also food for birds, armadillos and raccoons, drawing these pests into your yard.

To see if you need to treat for these insects, dig up a small section of your lawn. If you have more than 10 grubs per square foot or 5-10 grubs per square foot in a lawn that has other issues, you should consider applying an insecticide.

Ideally, insecticides should be applied in the spring when grubs are young, but you probably won’t see the infestation until this time of the year. Using a treatment now will help slow the damage and manage the population. There are effective natural treatments based on neem oil that can be used without affecting the rest of your lawn, making it a good choice if you’re trying to fit insect control, fertilizing and seeding into a packed lawn care schedule. The sooner you can treat the lawn, the better: depending on where you live, grubs will feed on your lawn through October or November. After that, they’ll burrow deep into the soil to survive the winter, putting them out of reach.

Prepare for Fall Lawn Care

Now is a good time to plan out your fall lawn care strategy.

Thatch — This layer of woody material covering the soil can be healthy, but it can cause irrigation and root system problems if it’s too thick. If the thatch layer is over ½ inch thick, it needs to be removed.

Soil compaction — Heavy foot and vehicle traffic can crush soil, making it harder for water and air to reach the root system. When the soil is moderately dry, try pushing through the turf with a spade. If this is hard to do, the soil is compacted.

Fertilizer — If your soil test shows some deficiencies, plan on applying a fertilizer that matches what your grass needs.

Overseeding — If your lawn is turning brown early in the season and there aren’t any major problems with pests or nutrients, it’s simply warm season grasses going into hibernation. Overseeding with cool season grasses in the fall will extend the growing season so your lawn can stay green longer.

Need Help with Your Equipment?

Shank’s Lawn Equipment has helped homeowners and professionals with their outdoor equipment for over 30 years. We cover a wide range of brands and equipment from Oregon’s cordless lawn care tools to commercial mowers from Skag, Exmark and Woods. Whether you’re looking for something new or you need service or parts for your current lawn care equipment, visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA.

We can also ship the parts and accessories you need to any address in the USA or Canada. To order, visit us online at www.shankslawn.com.

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