When I think of Fall, I think of leaves, cooler weather, and warm drinks. But did you know that Fall is also known as the second Spring and the perfect time to refresh your lawn? Follow these steps for a beautiful, lush lawn come Spring.
1. Keep Mowing Your Grass
If you are like me, you look forward to Fall, not only because of the cooler weather and wardrobe change, but also because you get a break from mowing. Unfortunately, taking a break from mowing is NOT the best idea. Grass doesn’t actually stop growing until winter.
Your lawn reaps so many benefits from being cut on a schedule. Cutting the lawn regularly and leaving the grass clippings helps feed the ground. Good soil reduces weed growth and promotes healthy thick grass. Thick grass in turns prevents erosion, filters contaminants from the rainwater, and absorbs airborne pollutants. A healthy lawn makes a healthy world.
The optimal level to set your lawn mower is at the highest level. Cut your grass once it is between 3/12 inches to 4 inches long.
2. Aerate (poke holes) your lawn at least once a year
You should be aerating your lawn at lease once a year, if not several times a year for compacted soil. If you only do it once a year, the Fall is a great choice since it will be too hard to do so during the winter.
Use an aerating tool for larger lawns.
You can often rent these machines at Home Depot, Lowes, or a local hardware store. FYI they are heavy to lift into and out of a truck. They become more manageable on the ground.
Use poke shoes for smaller spaces.
Brown grass spots indicate compacted soil and needs to be aerated. Aerated soils create air spaces for grass roots to grow.
This short video shows how to aerate your lawn.
3. Fertilize Once a Year (just after aerating provides the perfect opportunity) with compost or organic matter
If you don’t have compost or don’t want to spend the money, run a lawn mower over the fallen leaves. This leaf crumble is organic matter! It will fall into the freshly aerated soil and feed the ground. Organic matter not only feeds the ground but it also improves the soil. It lightens a predominately clay soil and helps a sandy soil retain moisture. If you are interested in purchasing your own compost, click here.
OR, if you want to make your own compost pile to use on your lawn watch this short video for an explanation about how to make composting easy:
Visit Amazon to purchase a compost bin if you need your compost more contained. Personally, we have a spot in the yard. It is big, free, and accessible.
If you want to get the best results from your fertilizer, it helps to test the soil. Soil absorbs nutrients well with a PH of 6.5-7.0. If your soil is too acidic you need to add lime. If it is not acidic enough, you need to add sulfur. Your local nursery will test your soil for you. Check out the Anne Arundel Farmers Co-op for help:
4. Grow grass that grows well where you live
We live in Maryland, so Turf-type fall fescue is our best bet. It grows well in all parts of the state. It is more heat and cold tolerant; perfect for the Maryland climate. You want to make sure that you get quality seed. Check the tag to make sure it says: Maryland Certified Seed, low inert matter (stuff that won’t grow), 0-.5% other agricultural crop seeds, and 0% weed seed.
Seed to fill in the bare spots in your yard. Anne Arundel Farmers’ Co-op has the seed you need:
5. Water deeply, but not often
You don’t need to water your lawn daily. You need to let your lawn dry out. When you step on it and your footprint remains or bounces up really slowly, then you need to water. When you water, try and imitate a long slow soaking rain. Trickle irrigation and soaker hoses do this. Personally, I can’t afford to have an irrigation system set up (the cost of one installed is $500-$3,000), so I would buy a sprinkler that mists and move it around the yard.
6. Do NOT rake the leaves on your lawn
I know this goes against every fiber of our being. We have raked or blown leaves our entire life. That’s how I earned my spending money as a kid, but new advice says to mow your leaves. Mowing your leaves creates organic matter to feed your lawn, it preserves soil moisture, and it provides homes for small organisms in the winter.
7. Plant trees, shrubs, and bulbs through the end of October
Make sure to soak the root ball once a week.
In short, take time this Fall to not only enjoy the crisp weather, but to mow, aerate, feed, and water your lawn so that your yard will spring into glory come April and May.