Now that we’re getting into the heart of Fall here in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time to start talking about lawn care for the rest of this season and into next. While we might not think it’s quite as important because we may not see our lawns quite as much, especially if we’re in an area of the country that gets a lot of snow; taking care of our lawn during all four seasons is important. We had briefly touched on spring and summer lawn care, so today let’s talk about fall and winter lawn care.
Fall Lawn Care
Many people feel that fall is the time to let the mowing go and not have to worry about the lawn. But fall is the time of year when your lawn needs a lot of TLC. This is the time of year that your lawn needs to regroup from the stress and burdens it faced during the summer season.
You want to make sure that you fertilize the lawn, because this is what will protect it and help it get through the winter. The fertilizer will contain nitrogen, phosphate and potash or potassium.
The potassium is especially important because this is what helps your grass survive not having enough moisture, compaction stress and diseases that might normally kill the grass.
You won’t need to mow as often, but you’ll still need to mow some. You can mow for the final time toward the last few weeks of fall. If you live in the South, you’ll want to make sure that you rake up the thatch.
Go first in one direction and then in the opposite to make sure you go deep enough. Put on a top dressing, because this helps the soil drain properly. It also allows it to hold on to nutrients as well as enabling it to fight the growth of thatch.
Make sure that you aerate after putting on a top dressing. After that, you’ll want to look for and repair any bare patches of the lawn. For the North, the fall care is a little different.
Your grass has to be at about 2 ½ inches through the season. If you allow it to get any longer or shorter than that, it can lead to problems like snow mold. Snow mold is a fungus and the damage that it can cause will be seen after the snow is gone.
You’ll notice large bare patches without any grass all over your lawn. You have to rake the leaves and any other type of yard debris, because if you don’t, it can cause a build-up of nitrates, which can lead to grass damage.
Even though it can be tempting to back off watering the lawn when the weather turns colder, your lawn still needs the moisture. Treat for perennial weeds. In states where the weather is mild, you’re more than likely to have a grass such as St. Augustine or Bermuda.
You don’t want to fertilize this grass in the fall. Instead, dethatch and aerate. Test the pH level and then over seed if needed.
Winter Lawn Care
While it can be fun to go sledding in the snow or build a snowman, the extreme cold temperatures can wreak havoc on a lawn. In the winter, if you live in the North, your lawn can freeze.
When this happens, if you walk across the grass, especially if you do it on a regularly basis, you will kill the grass in spots. Then when the grass thaws and it’s time for spring, you’ll have areas of dead grass.
You’ll need to be especially careful with any lawn debris during the winter if you live in the North. Any debris on the ground will kill your grass plus, can be a cause of snow mold to develop.
You don’t want to give this fungus any growing space. Remember that if your grass wasn’t cut short enough before the cold temperatures hit, it can cause the tops of the grass to freeze and die as well as being a foothold for disease to start.
You also want to be careful about salting walkways, since this can impact the health of your grass. Choose something like kitty litter or sand instead. Or, be very careful about not letting the salt get onto your grass.
In the South, you might think that the best time to fertilize your lawn for the winter is at the same time as cooler weather states. But in the warmer temperature regions, lawns should not be fertilized for any reason after September.
You need to make sure that you give your lawn moisture very early in the mornings. Warm weather grasses are more apt to develop a fungus problems than cool weather grass.
Though warm weather grass has a higher tolerance for heat, it can get brown patch easier than cool weather grass. Make sure that you over seed and irrigate. Winter lawn care in mild weather states means you’ll handle your lawn care a little differently.
First, make sure that before the temperatures dip, you fertilize your lawn. This step should be done in September or even in October – but never after. Even though the grass might look dead, the roots are still very much alive.
If you chose to over seed your lawn, remember that you still have to water it. If you did over seed, don’t water it more often than every 7 days or so. Lawns that weren’t over seeded also need to be watered during winter in a milder weather state.
But you should only water them about every 26-31 days. If you don’t water the grass at all during the winter, your lawn will die. Make sure that you get up any debris that falls onto your lawn because debris keeps the sunlight from being able to get to your lawn in the areas where the debris is.