During the spring and summer, when the grass, trees, and flowers are in full bloom, it's easy to remember to stay on a maintenance schedule to make sure your yard looks its best. And once summer is over, you can kick back, relax, and let the lawn go for a few months. Right?
Just because the days grow shorter and the temperatures get cooler doesn't mean it's time to ignore your lawn. No, it's just as important to maintain your yard in the fall. After all, you want to keep that curb appeal for those holiday visitors. Plus, a little work during the dormant months can help you get a jump on an outstanding backdrop for those warm-weather outdoor activities.
Here are a few tips that will help you care for your lawn in the fall.
1. Continue Mowing the Lawn
Just because it's fall doesn't mean it's time to put the lawn mower into storage. That's because grass keeps growing, right up to the initial hard frost. So it needs to be kept at an ideal height of 2 to 2-1/2 inches tall in the fall.
This range is important because allowing grass to grow too tall in the fall can have repercussions. Exceeding 3 inches will cause it to
But trimming too short is just as harmful to your lawn. Less than 2 inches prevents grass' ability to make and store food for spring growth. It also prevents a lawn from being able to tolerate winter cold and dryness. So giving your grass just enough height in the fall can have multiple long-lasting benefits.
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2. Rake the Leaves
The jewel-toned leaves covering your lawn in the fall look beautiful. They are also quite a temptation to kick up and play in. However, these dead leaves can be quite harmful to the grass in your lawn if not removed.
If not discarded, dead leaves and debris prevent sunlight from peeking through to your grass. Plus, the barrier they create prevents moisture that accumulates from rain from evaporating, which can leave your grass soggy and susceptible to decay.
To help ensure your lawn stays healthy in the fall, clear leaves and debris with a rake or leaf blower as often as possible. This will enable you to stave off excess organic debris, which can release soluble forms of such chemicals as phosphate and nitrates, which can build up on the frozen ground in the winter and end up in surface water in the spring.
Just by keeping your yard free of leaves and debris in the fall, you can make sure the grass stays healthy for months to come.
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3. Seed the Lawn
Fall is the ideal time of the year to cultivate or replenish your lawn with seeding. It's best to do this by the middle of September because cooler temperatures encourage successful seeding because the temperature of the ground is still warm and moist.
The best approach to seeding is actually overseeding your lawn. That's because denser lawns offer better protection against those unwanted weeds. Plus, it fills in bare spots in the grass.
Seeding can be done by broadcasting the seeds in sections throughout the lawn. Other options include a slit seeder, which cuts a slit into the existing lawn and inserts a seed into the gash, and a power seeder, which injects the seed into the soil in a less-damaging way.
Spreading seeds and giving them a little water in the fall can go a long way toward ensuring you have a lush lawn in the following spring.