Submitted on September 26, 2017

Many homeowners focus on lawn care during the spring and summer months and start to relinquish their lawn care tasks as the fall season progresses towards colder weather.  However, if you want to keep your lawn looking beautiful and healthy, the fall is not the time to start slacking off. The end of summer does not mean the end of lawn care.

Autumn, with its cooler temperatures and more frequent rainfall, is the ideal time to prepare your lawn for next spring.  This is a particularly useful time of year because there is far less weed (and crabgrass) competition. During the fall, grass plants are busy absorbing energy, moisture, and nutrients in order to prepare for a long dormant winter, and store these nutrients for use during the next spring season. Below is a group of fall lawn care tasks that will give you a head start on obtaining a healthy lawn for next spring.

FEED YOUR LAWN.
Autumn is the best time to give your lawn a good, hearty meal.  As the weather begins to cool, your lawn will slow its top growth, while the roots will continue to actively grow.  A fall fertilizer application should be applied at the right time, when the plants are still absorbing nutrient.  If the ground is frozen or the grass has stopped growing, it is too late. Feeding your lawn in the fall is crucial. A fall feeding delivers vital nutrients to encourage deep root growth and will help your lawn to store essential nutrients over the long cold Canadian winter. The storing process will continue as long as the plant is green.  At the first sign of spring, your lawn will quickly tap into the stored nutrients, increasing the chances of you having a healthy green lawn.

LET IT BREATHE.
During the warm weather, your lawn endures an increased amount of foot traffic and thatch build-up which compacts the soil and restricts the roots from a sufficient supply of oxygen, water and nutrients.  Autumn is an ideal time to aerate your lawn. Aerating in the fall will loosen soil compaction, remove excess thatch and literally air out the earth.  
Balding turf, matted-down grass, sparse new growth, pools of water and tough ground are all signs that you need to aerate your lawn. Fall aeration sets the stage for strong spring growth.

FILL IN THE BALD SPOTS.
Early fall is a good time to seed a lawn that appears to be in need of some repair. Over-seed established lawns to fill in bare spots and thicken your grass.  Over-seeding immediately following aeration is highly recommended because the holes left behind by the aerator provide thousands of entry points for new grass to germinate and fill in trouble spots.

If your lawn has low spots where water collects, then you may want to take the time to level the ground and reseed. To reseed, follow these four simple steps:

Rake to loosen soil.
Add a soil supplement such as top soil or peat moss.
Evenly distribute seed.
Water regularly.  

In most parts of Canada, the best time to seed your lawn is in early fall, when the evening temperatures are lower and the morning dew is heavier, sometime between mid-August to late-September.  New grass that can establish itself in the fall will come back more vigourous in the spring.

MOW LOW.
As the fall season progresses, you may find yourself relying less on your lawn mower as your lawn’s growth begins to slow.  However, you should keep cutting until your lawn essentially stops growing.  Mowing below the recommended height too soon in the fall can be very damaging to your turf plants.   As the season comes to a close, for your final mowing,  drop the mower blade one centimeter below the standard mowing height. This will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass and less leaf to be exposed to the harsh winter weather.  If possible, leave the clippings on the lawn to protect the crown and provide additional nutrients for the roots to store for use over the winter and early spring.

KEEP IT CLEAN.
Raking leaves is not usually a homeowner’s idea of fun, but raking is important to keep your lawn healthy. An excessive layer of fallen leaves does not offer your lawn any protection from the impending snow. Instead, fallen leaves suffocate your lawn by blocking essential nutrients, such as sunlight and oxygen. Also, fallen leaves can create dark, moist environments that are breeding grounds for damaging disease organisms.
In addition to leaves, clear your lawn of any garden tools, children’s toys and other natural debris that can smother your lawn. Fall lawn clean-up will save you time for gardening and other fun-filled hobbies in the spring.

When you give your lawn a little TLC in the fall, you will be rewarded with a healthy lawn in the spring.  Contact your local Weed Man professional for more information on fall clean-up tips and how to winterize your lawn.

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