It’s already August. Should you just give up on your lawn for this year and wait till next spring to try to make it look good? No! If you wait till spring, it will take an entire year for your lawn to look good. There are plenty of things your lawn needs now to make it look good in the spring. Let’s face it, if great looking lawns were easy to have, everyone would have them. They take time, patience and plenty of care. Here are some tips from the Lawn Coaches at Heritage Lawns & Irrigation that you can put into place this fall that will give your lawn a head start on looking great next spring.
Fall Lawn Fertilization
Fertilizing in the fall is extremely important. In early September, your lawn is recovering from summer heat and may be in a drought-induced state of dormancy. Feeding the lawn in the fall will help the turf naturally recover from the damage of summer. If you have weed or insect problems, you can treat them in the fall as well, but if not, just fertilize.
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Winter Lawn Fertilization
Make your fall application to the lawn after October 15, while grass is still green and while 2-3 weeks remain before the ground freezes. You can probably still apply it as late as Thanksgiving week. Follow your fertilizer application with watering. The benefit of winterizers is what they do to the root system throughout the winter months and the effect on shoot development next spring. The granules of fertilizer break down slowly over the winter and spring based on soil temperature, moisture and microbial activity. When the temperatures rise in the spring, the stored nutrients are ready and waiting which gives the grass the ability to turn green and thick earlier in the season. You can’t get this result if you wait until spring to fertilize. An added benefit to applying winterizer fertilizer late in the season is that when your lawn is thick, you won’t have to worry so much about crabgrass in the spring either because it will be crowded out by your thick, lush lawn.
Fall Is the Time to Overseed
If your lawn took a beating this summer, you may have thinning areas, bare, brown/burned areas, or even insect damage. Overseeding your lawn will help. Early fall is a great time for overseeding to heal your lawn if it has been damaged by summer drought, diseases, insects or heavy traffic. Cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass grow best when air temperatures are between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This season has been cool and wet, so you can start seeding as early as the end of August. A word of advice when buying seed – make sure you check the label and choose seed with 0% weed seed and 0% other crop to avoid adding weeds when you seed. Overseeding has many benefits:
- Fill in damaged areas
- Fortify high traffic areas
- Thicken your overall lawn
- Improve the color and thickness
- Help your lawn fight insects and diseases
- Decrease weeds
- Reduce amount of water, fertilizers, and pesticides necessary
Aerating vs. Verticutting
So, to get good contact between the seed and the soil, should you aerate or verticut? What’s the difference? If you’re just wanting to improve your lawn’s ability to take in nutrients and water, aeration will be enough. With aeration, small plugs of dirt, and the thatch layer above it, are removed from your lawn to create room for new root growth and to allow water and nutrients to reach the roots. New seed can also fall into these holes giving the seedlings good soil contact and a healthy start.
Verticutting is a bit more invasive and is recommended for lawns that are bare or very thin. With verticutting, a machine slices small grooves in the lawn down through the thatch layer allowing the seed to drop into the soil. This will give you long lines of grass growing up through the thatch layer.
Don’t wait to think about lawn care until next spring. Your lawn will look great next spring if you follow these seasonal lawn care tips this fall. If you need professional lawn care help, call Heritage Lawns & Irrigation at (913) 451-4664.