When it comes to lawn care, a lot of people assume that they can stop giving their lawn so much attention in the fall. They understand that caring for their lawn in the summer is important because the grass grows quickly, temperatures are hot, and natural water is in short supply. When fall rolls around, the grass grows more slowly, the weather is nice, there is more rain and dew, and conditions seem to be perfect for grass to take care of itself.
All of that is true — the conditions are perfect for grass, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to forget the lawn and let it take care of itself. In fact, quite the opposite is true: fall is perhaps the most important time of year to take care of your lawn because fall is when your lawn prepares itself for the coming winter and for its renewal next spring. Here’s a list of helpful things you can do to help your lawn in that process.
Although the grass grows slowly, it does still grow, and cutting it to an ideal height is important. Too long, and it will mat and be more susceptible to fungi. Too short, and the roots can suffer and impede the lawn’s ability to withstand the winter cold and snow. Height-wise, 2.5 to 3 inches is the ideal height in the fall and winter.
If your grass doesn’t get at least an inch of water every week, you should keep your sprinklers or irrigation system running until late October or early November. However, if the weather is too cold, you should flush your irrigation system to prevent pipes and spigots from freezing.
Rake the Leaves
A few leaves here and there will do no harm, but large piles of leaves will block out sunlight and retain moisture, which will suffocate your lawn and/or cause harmful fungi to grow. If your lawn gets a lot of leaves on it, be sure to rake them regularly to prevent that from happening. You can also mow the leaves, which will grind them up into manageable pieces and provide helpful mulch for your lawn.
Aerate and add Fertilizer
Most experts agree that if you only aerate and fertilize your lawn once each year, the best time to do that is mid-to-late fall. Although grass grows slowly at this time, the roots are still active and are trying to store water and nutrients to prepare the grass for the upcoming winter and spring. Aerating will loosen the soil and expose the grassroots to the fertilizer, where it will do the most good. The sugars contained in the fertilizer will give the grass the energy it needs to protect itself against the harsh winter temperatures and regrow in the spring.