There is no better time of year with autumn’s crisp blue days and cool nights to help your lawn make significant gains to prepare for winter…and to start spring strong. Warm soil and reduced weed competition means all sorts of good things when it comes to fall seeding and repairs. My previous blog post explained the benefits of core aeration and over seeding, but there is much more that can be done to prepare your grass for winter and next spring.
Before we talk about what to do now, we must quickly look back to the past summer’s humidity and extensive rain not to mention residual issues from the heat and drought of 2012. . These weather factors caused widespread insect activity, disease issues, thinning, and in some cases damage to the point of necessary repairs, from small to large. Ongoing insect damage in the form of chinch bugs are currently brown patches that may continue growing in size! Grubs are getting large enough now to also cause browning and will continue to eat grass roots right into November. If you were unaware of these past issues, you are now informed and educated so the rest of this fall can be productive as it pertains to your lawn. So what now?
Even if your lawn did not experience any of the problems I described above, autumn is the ideal time to help your lawn store energy in the root system by proper fertilizing. The key here is not to apply too much or too little fertilizer. Not putting down enough fertilizer on your lawn will not hurt, but the results won’t be there; although you may have fun in the process. Putting down too much material can cause an excessive flush of growth and predispose your lawn to ice or cold damage come wintertime. Balance is always an important rule of thumb regarding lawn treatments, but exceptions and variations do exist. For instance, a lawn which has minimal care all season can receive lots of “critical care” in a short period of time versus a lawn which has been on a regular program may see lower rates or different product usage. While lawns may appear to be alike, they each have personalities unique to their own surroundings such as trees, sunlight, buildings, fences, and exposure to wind. The care your grass receives should be taking these variables into account with the arrival of fall and foliage season here in New England.
Hardening your lawn off as the nighttime temperatures drop is important and includes dropping your mowing height in October, ending up around 1.5” on most grass types as the final cut in November. A short cut helps reduce winter, ice, and snow mold damage in your lawn. Even greater benefits can be gained with proper fall lawn fertilizer treatments such as potassium and zero phosphate products to encourage healthy roots full of carbohydrates. Like a big Italian spaghetti dinner, your lawn can feast and go into the winter with reserves so your chances of recovery and an early spring green up are enhanced. There is lots of time to help your lawn this autumn, so don’t let September and October pass without taking advantage of the opportunity to leverage your lawn into an even greater asset in 2014.