Home Tip Tuesday: Tips for Fall Lawn Care

Fall is time for crucial steps that will keep your lawn healthy and strong.

Hold on there, where are you going with that lawn mower? Just because fall is almost here doesn't mean your lawn-care chores are done for the year. In fact, autumn is time for some of the most crucial steps that will keep your lawn healthy and strong. The growth rate of grass does begin to slow as the hot temperatures of summer subside, but your lawn is still hard at work absorbing nutrients and moisture for its long winter nap. With the right care now, you'll have a lush spring lawn that requires less attention in the long run.

Rake Those Leaves
A blanket of red and orange leaves covering the lawn does look beautiful, but leaf debris can cause all sorts of problems. When they become wet from dew or rain, fallen leaves form a thick mat that can suffocate the lawn beneath and breed nasty fungal diseases. So take that classic autumn photo quickly, and get out the rake! A lawnmower with a collection bag makes quick work of leaf patrol, but raking also helps to aerate the soil and comb out dead bits of grass and other debris a collection system might leave behind.

And Speaking of Aerating
Aerating is a big job that may require renting a gas-powered aerator if you have a large property, though most homeowners can probably make do with a manual tool. However you manage it, aerating brings much needed water, fertilizer and oxygen to the roots of the grass which will benefit from an extra boost after surviving high summer temperatures.

Patch And Weed
Patching up bald spots and taking care of weeds go hand-in-hand because if you don't fill in those bare spots in the weeds will happily oblige. Use an all-in-one repair mixture that contains fertilizer and organic mulch as well as seeds for best results. Run a rake over the thin spot to scratch up the soil, and spread a thick layer of the mixture over the prepared area. Keep the spot evenly moist for the next 14 days. Once that chore is complete, apply an herbicide (organic is best) to take care of broadleaf weeds.

Keep Mowing
Sadly, you're not off the hook for mowing until about two weeks from the first frost. Continue mowing and watering as usual, but as late fall approaches, drop the mower's blade to its lowest setting. The last two cuttings of the season should be short to allow more warmth and sunlight to reach the crown and to limit the amount of dead grass needing cleanup in the spring. As you lower the blade, remember that no more than one-third of the grass height should ever be taken at one time. 

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