Lawn Care for Fall
Summer can be very tough on grass and, as a result, we get a lot of questions such as:
- “The Summer Killed My Lawn – How Do I Fix it?
- What Lawn Care Should be Done in the Fall?
- Why is Lawn Care is Important in the Fall?
- What is Aeration and Over-Seeding?
- Is Fall Fertilizer Necessary?
- We will answer these questions and more!
Autumn is arguably the best time of the year to focus on your lawn. Some work now will pay-off in the long run. The items below are not very expensive, but they all provide a lot of ‘Bang for Your Buck’.
Late Fall Fertilization
You might be wondering why you should fertilize your lawn at a time of year when the lawn is getting ready to ‘go to sleep’ for the winter. Believe it or not, a late fall fertilization will benefit your lawn more than any other time of the year.
Why Should I Fertilize my Lawn in the Fall?
During the growing season, most of a plant’s energy goes towards the top part of the plant – in this case, the grass blades. As a result, the root system loses out.
In the late fall, “everything is going down” – nutrients and water move from the grass blades, down into the root system as the ‘top growth’ slows down. The grass produce carbohydrates which provide, among other things, energy for growth. In the fall, the grass will store carbs and use them when needed. Throughout the winter, whenever the ground is warm enough, your lawn will use these stored carbohydrates.
Fall Fertilization Helps your Lawn in the Spring
The benefits of a fall fertilization continue when spring comes around. In the spring, grass needs to ‘green-up’ to make food. These stored carbs will flow from areas of the plants with an excess of carbs (the roots in this case) to areas of the plant where they are needed (the grass blades).
A fall fertilization will do more for the health of the root system than at any other time of the year. Similar to: “Happy Wife, Happy Life” – we say, “Happy Roots, Happy Grass”!
When Should Fall Fertilizer be Applied?
Anytime from mid-October until the ground is frozen solid. If the soil freezes and thaws during the day, it is fine. But, once the ground is frozen 24-7, there is the possibility that the fertilizer could wash off in a heavy rain.
Aeration with Over-Seeding
How Does Lawn Aeration Work?
A fall aeration with over-seeding is one of the best things you can do for your lawn. Aeration is a process where a machine punches holes into your lawn and pulls out ‘plugs’ of soil. These plugs are typically about ½” in diameter and 1-3” deep. The plugs breakdown over a few weeks and provide beneficial organic matter.
The aeration does several things that are good for a lawn:
- Punctures holes in the thatch layer. The thatch layer is just above the soil and consists of abandoned roots and stems of the grass plants. When this layer gets too thick, it creates a barrier that prevents water, fertilizer and air from getting down to the root system.
The thatch layer also provides a perfect habitat for turf-damaging insects and diseases.
- Reduces soil compaction. Loosening of the soil makes it easier for the roots to grow and spread throughout the lawn.
- Allows water to percolate through the soil and down to the roots.
What is Over-Seeding?
Overseeding is simply the process of spreading seed on an existing lawn (as opposed to a new lawn that is being grown from bare soil).
Spreading grass seed over a lawn (without aeration) does not work very well. However, seeding at the time of an aeration can provide tremendous results. The aeration holes provide thousands of mini-seedbeds – which is the key to success.
This grass seed will fill in thin or bare patches and also adds new, higher quality varieties of grass to your lawn.
A lawn will decline over time (if you let it)
All lawns are going to experience damage at various times. The sod can be torn up by a pack of crazy kids playing on it every day, dogs doing their ‘business’, Weed-Wacker massacres and plenty of other things.
When this happens, something will grow in the bare areas – it’s how Mother Nature works – and that something will be weeds! Crabgrass and other weeds will take-over these bare patches. Sure, we can kill them but, without a healthy stand of grass, new weeds will just keep coming back.
Grass is also beat-up by turf-damaging insects like grubs, bill bugs and other evil-doers. And then, of course, turfgrass diseases are just another assault on “Lawn & Order”!
But, you can fight back! Every fall, every lawn can benefit from Aeration with Over-Seeding. Our customers, whose lawns are aerated and over-seeded every fall, typically have the most dense and weed-free lawns – because damaged grass is taken care of each year – before it becomes an eyesore.
Think back to high school chemistry and the dreaded litmus paper (Ugh! And yes, I thought it was boring too, but this will be quick!). You might remember that a pH of 7.0 is neutral – not acidic or basic – that’s why it’s neutral. The lower the pH number, the more acidic the soil is (and vice versa).
Turfgrass prefers a pH level of 6.5 – 7.0. What this means is that the further outside of this range (6.5 – 7.0), the less the grass can use the available nutrients.
Why is Lime Good for a Lawn?
Farmers will say that Lime ‘sweetens’ the soil. What this means is that lime makes the soil less acidic. (Soil in this part of the country tends to be on the acidic side.)
For example, let’s take it to the extreme. If your soil was at a crazy-high acidic level, all the nutrients in the world would not help your grass – because the grass could not use the nutrients that are right there – frustrating, right?.
It’s kind of like, “Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink”. The old, becalmed, sailor in the poem is surrounded by water but he can’t use it (because it’s saltwater).
In addition to making your soil less acidic, lime also breaks down organic matter. Organic matter in a lawn consists of grass clippings, sticks, leaves, insects and many other things. The more ‘alive’ your soil is with microorganism activity, the better your grass will grow. Think of the soil in a forest, it is full of life – the opposite of the packed, clay soil that is often found in home lawns.
When to Lime my Lawn?
Lime is really a soil treatment more than a lawn treatment and it can be applied at any time of the year. But, there are a couple things to consider.
The lime needs to work its way down into the soil. So, if you are also going to aerate your lawn, apply the lime at the same time. The lime that goes in the aeration holes gets down to the root zone right away.
Also, fall is a good time to lime because, as we go from fall to winter – and winter to spring – there are a lot of freeze-thaw cycles in the soil. This also works the lime into the soil.
If you can get any or all of these things done this fall, your lawn will be in good shape for winter and next year.
Then, say good night to your lawn until Spring!
Green Giant Home & Commercial’s Lawn Care services control weeds, build the thickness and density of your lawn and protect it from being damaged by insects and disease, providing you with a great-looking, healthy lawn. We offer fertilization, weed control, liming, insect control, and aeration and overseeding. Visit our Lawn Care page for more information.
Green Giant performs: Proper Diagnosis and Treatment of Tree & Shrub Problems, Insect & Disease Control (including Spotted Lanternfly), and Nutrient Management via Deep Root Fertilization to keep your plants healthy and thriving. Visit our Tree Care page for more information.
Green Giant’s Non-Lawn Weed Control services eliminate unwanted vegetation in a wide variety of locations for both residential and large commercial/municipal properties such as: Weed Control in Planting Beds (yes, no more pulling weeds!), around obstacles to reduce weed eating, along fence lines, stone/gravel driveways and parking lots, swales and roadside/curbside vegetation management. Find more information, visit our Vegetation Management page.
Our full service pest control division provides both Year-Round Service Programs that cover the vast majority of pests that you will encounter and also One-Time Corrective Services for pests such as bees, ants, termites or mice. For more information, visit our Pest Control page.