While many homeowners think spring is the best time to fertilize, feed and maintain their lawn, did you know that proper lawn care in the fall is the most important step to having a healthy lawn all year long? If you didn’t fertilize your lawn regularly over the summer – and let’s face it, despite our best intentions in the spring, we probably missed a few inputs – your lawn is likely starved and/or thirsty from the high temperatures and low rainfall of summer and needs a boost before the harsh winter months. The key to fall lawn care is reseeding, which involves aerifying, seeding and fertilizing your lawn.
What is overseeding?
Overseeding is the process of planting grass seed on top of the existing lawn without removing the grass or soil. Overseeding fills in bare areas of your lawn and makes it denser. The process makes your lawn stronger and healthier. It’s best to seed the entire lawn rather than just filling in the bare spots. It also suppresses weeds and helps your lawn withstand extreme temperatures and weather conditions.
Why should you overseed in the fall?
- Precipitation and soil moisture are often better in the fall
- Soil temperatures are warm in the fall while air temperatures cool, encouraging grass growth.
- Help get rid of summer weeds like crabgrass.
- Strengthens your lawn before winter, which can be tough on many grasses.
- Gives your lawn a good start for next spring.
How do you oversee a lawn?
Mow and rake your lawn
Cut your grass on low and rake all the clippings when you are done. This is done to make it easier for the seeds to come into contact with the soil and for sunlight and water to reach the new seeds.
Aerate the soil
Aeration brings moisture, air and nutrients deep into the roots of your lawn to promote overall growth and health. For this process, you’ll need to rent a lawn aerator, a self-propelled, hand-held machine that you push back and forth across your lawn. The scarifier punches small holes in your lawn and pulls out plugs of soil, creating pockets where grass seed, water and nutrients can collect at the base of the lawn roots.
Spread grass seed
After aerating, it’s time to spread the grass seed and let it accumulate in the holes created by the aerator. Be sure to use a grass seed that is appropriate for the fall and the type of grass in your area. If you have a small yard, a hand-held spreader is sufficient, but many people prefer a hand-held spreader for medium-sized yards.
Adding fertilizer to your freshly aerated and seeded lawn helps stimulate grass growth and provides additional nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Many professionals recommend avoiding weed and fertilizer formulas; pre-emergent herbicides can limit seed germination.
Water is important for any lawn, but freshly seeded lawns need constant moisture for the next 5 to 10 days. You can water lightly for the first few days after seeding, but after about four days, start alternating between light watering and heavy soaking of the lawn.
Fall Lawn Care Schedule
No matter where you are in the country, you can follow these general guidelines for your fall lawn care schedule.
As summer begins to fade and nighttime temperatures cool, take care of bare or barren spots in your yard. By loosening the soil in these areas and adding grass seed and fall fertilizer, you can fix your lawn right where it needs it.
Mid-fall is the ideal time to begin reseeding as described above. Cooler temperatures promote grass growth in the fall. So aerate, seed and fertilize to make the most of the last good growing season of the year!
As temperatures drop, you’ll see more and more leaves falling. Be sure to rake and bag the leaves quickly, as the debris on your lawn can prevent moisture and sunlight from reaching your lawn and its roots. A mulching mower or hand blower are great tools for this process!
Proper reseeding of your lawn this fall can mean the difference between a healthy lawn that comes back to life in the spring and a lawn that requires a lot of work to get back into shape after winter. By mowing, aerating, seeding, fertilizing and watering at the right time this fall, you can ensure that your lawn stays healthy all year long.
You can find everything you need for fall lawn care at doitbest.com or at your local independent Do it Best dealer.