Fresh autumn days and chilly nights remind us that the lush, green lawn that you enjoyed during the summer will soon be covered in a blanket of white this winter. Before that happens, a little fall lawn preparation will ensure that it returns green and healthy in the spring.
Basics of a Healthy Lawn
Healthy, green summer lawns require year-round care. Like all plants, grasses have four basic requirements to thrive.
- Adequate sunlight suited to the type of grass
- Proper watering, encourage roots to grow deep
- Conditioned soil with a healthy ph balance
- Food at the right times during the year
These basics are as important in the dormant winter months as they are during the growing season.
Preparing Lawns for the Winter
Fall lawn preparation done correctly will pay dividends next spring and into the summer. Follow these simple steps and your lawn will be off to a head start when temperatures warm.
The weather may have cooled down, but your grass has probably not stopped growing. Some homeowners arbitrarily set a date to stop mowing, but as long as your lawn is growing, even at a reduced rate, it should be maintained.
While some grasses may already have turned dormant and brown, two Indiana lawn favorites, fescues and bluegrass, continue to grow in cooler temperatures. Mow as needed to keep grass at the normal summer height. Mowing removes fallen leaves and helps prevent fungus.
Fall fertilization should focus on root health. Add higher amounts of potassium and less nitrogen to prevent unwanted growth spurts during dormancy.
As the word implies, aerating your lawn opens up the soil and allows air in, creating a healthier environment for root growth. If your soil is compacted or your lawn receives a lot of use and traffic, aeration helps it to recover during the dormant months.
Fall is the perfect time to overseed bare patches and thin areas. Seed early enough that the roots can establish themselves before the grass goes dormant for the season. In the spring, the seeded areas will fill in quickly to become part of the established lawn.
Fall leaves may be pretty to look at but allowed to accumulate and cover lawns they can smother grasses and promote fungus growth. There are a couple of options for dealing with leaves:
- Mulch/mow them into the lawn – This is a good way to enrich soil while eliminating leaf coverage. Don’t wait until the leaves are too thick to mulch. Mulch several times during the fall season if necessary.
- Old fashioned raking – Not very high-tech but it will do the job if you get behind on mulching.
Remember the summer sun dappled across your green lawn. With a little fall lawn preparation now, your grass will rejuvenate during the dormant season, to return green and full in the spring and provide another season of enjoyment and memories.