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If you want a full, green lawn by the spring and summer growing seasons, you should provide special care and attention to your lawn in the fall. Fall is a crucial time to prep and treat your lawn, so we’ve put together a checklist of the top tips for fall lawn care.
Read on to learn more about lawn maintenance and the best projects to work on during the fall. To save you time and effort, we will also recommend our top pick for DIY lawn care.
In this article:
- A closer look at fall lawn care
- Lawn maintenance in the fall
- Fall lawn care projects
- Our top recommendation for fall lawn care
A closer look at fall lawn care
How does the changing of seasons affect your lawn? Well, in many states, fall is the season where grass doesn’t grow as rapidly as temperatures start to drop. You can take advantage of the cool weather and complete some maintenance that can protect your lawn during harsh winters. Fall is one of the best times to fertilize your lawn, reduce and remove weeds, and aerate.
Lawn maintenance in the fall
While some fall lawn care tasks like raking leaves and adjusting your mowing height are quick and simple, others require a little bit more knowledge and expertise. For those, you might consider hiring a professional lawn care provider.
Here are some of the maintenance tasks to check off your fall lawn care list:
Remove fallen leaves
One of our first lawn care tips is to prep your lawn for treatment. Do this by removing fallen leaves. Dead leaves can pose a threat to your grass, blocking light, moisture and nutrients that roots need. Leaves can also trap moisture in your lawn, which can eventually lead to fungi in some cases.
Remove the fallen leaves in your yard by raking or blowing them away. If you have built-up thatch in your lawn, you may need to use a traditional rake, rather than trying to blow it away.
Continue mowing your lawn
Contrary to popular belief, you should still mow your lawn as part of your fall lawn care routine. Grass will generally continue to grow until the first frost of the year, so it’s still important to mow your lawn regularly during the fall. Set your mower blades a little shorter than for the summer months. Two inches is an ideal height for fall grass.
You want to keep grass relatively short in the fall and winter. However, don’t cut it too short; this can leave the root system vulnerable. One of the most important fall lawn care tips: The depth of the roots is proportional to the height of the grass. So don’t deprive your grass of a strong root system.
After you finish mowing your lawn for the season, it’s important to perform some maintenance on your lawn mower before packing it away:
- Sharpen your mower blades
- Give a tune-up with new oil and spark plugs
- Clean the air filter
- Check for any damage that needs repair
In the fall, rain will often leave less evaporation in the environment than in other seasons. This can help provide natural moisture to your plants and lawn. However, that does not mean you no longer need to water your grass. You can keep track of the natural moisture your lawn is getting with a rain gauge. That can help you manage how much additional water you give your lawn.
Keep your grass roots hydrated through fall and winter by watering with about an inch of water each week. This can help maintain grass, root and soil health. Continue using your sprinkler system until the end of October.
Fall lawn care projects
Fall gives you the time (and the right weather conditions) to complete special projects for your lawn. These projects can help maintain a lawn’s health and beauty until the spring. Spruce up your lawn this fall by targeting bare spots, loosening the soil and getting rid of weeds.
Fall is a great time to aerate. During the hot summer months, your lawn may have become packed down, or compacted. When this happens, your grassroots have limited access to the sunlight, water, air and nutrients they need. These conditions can cause your grass to thin out or turn brown in some places. Lawn aeration can help loosen up the soil and prevent any more compaction from happening by puncturing your soil and giving your grassroots room to breathe.
You can aerate your lawn with something as simple as a garden fork if the compaction is limited. But if the issue is more widespread, you should consider using either a core aerator or spike aerator. The first works by pulling up little plugs, or “cores” of soil, that you leave to decompose on top of the soil to help reintroduce nutrients into your lawn. Spike aerators work by penetrating the compacted soil to loosen it.
It’s a good idea to aerate your lawn before you fertilize it, as this task will loosen up the soil and help you deliver the feed deep down. Aeration can also prevent thatch, a thick layer of dead organic matter between the soil and your grass, which can cause disease and insect issues.
Fertilizing should be a crucial part of your fall lawn care schedule each year. Fertilize before the first frost in your region. This helps prevent roots from freezing in the cold weather. It can also help the grass store energy to use in the spring to grow rapidly again. We recommend using a slow-release, natural fertilizer instead of something synthetic and quick release. Natural fertilizers may cost more upfront, but they ultimately yield longer-lasting, greener results.
Find a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen and potassium to deliver the nutrients your grass needs, but keep in mind that different types of grasses can require different nutrients. A lawn care professional can help you diagnose your lawn.
This tip is for people living in mildly warm regions or in transition zones. To avoid the bare, brown look of warm-season grass in winter, you can overseed your lawn with cool-season grasses. These grasses continue growing in the winter, so they can grow while your warm-season grass is dormant. Choose a cool-season grass that’s compatible with your climate.
Overseeding is the practice of adding more grass seed to your existing lawn without first turning your soil. It can create thicker grass and add deeper color to your lawn. Fall is ideal for overseeding because the ground is still fairly warm, but the sun is not shining too bright or hot during the day.
Fall weed control
Fall is a great time to treat weeds in your lawn. Make a plan to remove annual and perennial weeds. Depending on the type of weeds in your lawn, you’ll want a special herbicide for the job. Some products even combine pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides.
When treating your lawn for weeds, it’s important to understand what your lawn needs and how the treatment will work. In general, herbicides are most effective when the air temperature is above 50 degrees. To get the most out of your weed control treatment, contact a professional weed control specialist. They can diagnose your lawn and provide you specific recommendations.
Our top recommendation for fall lawn care
We recommend Sunday lawn care for anyone interested in DIY fall lawn care. This eco-friendly start-up delivers a customized lawn care kit—based on your individual lawn’s soil sample and needs—directly to your door. The lawn care kit is full of natural ingredients, like molasses and kelp, to boost your lawn’s health and color. Natural weed control is also available.
To connect with the Sunday team or to get a quote, all you have to do is fill out an online form.