With autumn in full swing, most lawns in NH & VT should be well recovered from what was a record setting summer in terms of high heat. Any lingering damage should be very obvious and can be fixed before winter such as dead patches of crabgrass or ongoing grub activity. September and October are ideal months to improve your grass due to warm soil, ample moisture, and cool days/nights. Fertilizing, liming, aeration, seeding, compost tea, and optional weed reduction are all most effective at this time of the year in NH & VT. Any insect activity should be addressed now as the longer you wait; the more lawn you lose and the more difficult the control becomes as the pests grow larger such as with grubs in the soil.
If your lawn has issues with weeds such as shepherd’s purse, chickweed, or henbit; consider a treatment this fall with products such as Dimension. Use of the aforementioned product this fall will also provide some crabgrass suppression next spring.
Autumn is a great time to improve your soil since it is the supporting mechanism for a healthy lawn. Topdressing with compost, adding sea kelp, or spraying on compost tea rich in humates, fungi, and bacteria are encouraging ways to improve the microbial state of your lawn before winter. Using a high calcium lime is a positive step to not only adjust your soil pH, but provide calcium which turf greatly appreciates by improving the cation exchange within the soil itself. What does that mean? Calcium helps loosen soil up while Magnesium based lime tends to bind it up more. The better the cation exchange, the less your soil will leach nutrients, especially when combined with a healthy microbial environment below ground. Soils high in organic matter have high cation exchange capacities while sandy soils have very low ratings. As you can see, healthy soil is more important to your lawn than you may have imagined.
As always, be sure to recycle your lawn clippings whenever possible and mow high even in the fall to promote deeper root systems. As the leaves begin to fall and accumulate, don’t let them mulch out shaded areas- rake them up or mow them into pieces. Improved sunlight can help those marginal areas which were blocked by a tree canopy or forest edge. Even shade tolerant grass will appreciate a little extra sun in the fall before winter snow arrives.