While many homeowners equate the spring with planting season and summer with mowing or watering the lawn, there are several lawn care tasks to perform throughout the fall. Proper fall maintenance will keep your lawn lush, healthy and easier to care for during the spring and summer of the following year.
Throughout the fall, leaves drop from trees and often cover large portions of your lawn. Even if you do not have trees, a neighbor's tree may litter your lawn with an abundance of leaves as it sheds for the winter. Rake and bag the leaves to keep your lawn tidy. If you leave the leaves over the fall season, they could be soaked and covered with snow, leaving a moldy mess the following spring. A simple garden rake and some lawn and leaf bags are the only tools needed.
Grass seed has a better chance of germination when the weather is cooler, during the fall and early spring months. This is because the weeds that compete with the grass for moisture and ground space fare better in the heat. In the cooler months, those weeds are less likely to interfere with the growth of the grass. Late August and early October are ideal times to plant grass seed because they result in a lush bedding of grass the following spring. If your lawn is already growing grass, the addition of more grass seed in the fall, called over-seeding, is an effective way of maintaining thickness.
Pest and Weed Control
During the fall, proper measures to control weeds and pests can lead to a marked reduction in their appearance the following spring. Identification is the first step of the process because different pests and weeds require different pesticides and herbicides. Some unwanted bushes, small trees and overgrown foliage must be removed by hand. Once identification has been made, a gardening specialist from a local home improvement store will be able to recommend a product and routine.
Aeration and Fertilization
Fall fertilization can add a healthy boost to emerging growth in the spring. It is a way to get a start on the spring growing season early, so that the growth that appears is thick and lush. Before fertilization, aerate the ground and cut the grass. Do not cut the grass shorter than 2 inches, however, because the roots will have too much exposure to the approaching winter elements. The grass needs a thorough soak after fertilization to allow the nutrients from the fertilizer to reach the roots below the surface.