Fall is the most important time of the year for strengthening lawns and preparing them for the harsh temperatures of winter. It is also best time of the year for fertilization, cultivation, establishing a new lawn, and renovation of poor quality yards.
Let it Breathe. Aerate your lawn now to allow water and nutrients to seep into compressed soil. A garden fork will do the trick for small lawns, otherwise go with a walk-behind aerator that pulls out two and a half to three inch plugs. The plugs will break down naturally by spring.
Overseed & Feed. Grass roots continue to grow until temps drop to about 40 degrees. Apply a high phosphorous mix (12-25-12) now to encourage root growth for beautiful spring green.
Weed. Fall is a great time to go after weeds like clover, ground ivy and dandelions. Use a special winterizer weed and feed instead of regular winterizer. Apply to moist foliage on a day when rain is not forecast for 24 hours. By spring your lawn will be virtually broad leaf weed free!
Mow it Down. Lower mower blades for the last cut of the season to prevent disease. Leaves blow right over short grass for easier raking. Don’t buzz the grass blades any lower than one and a quarter inches though since grass makes food in the upper blade.
Start a Collection. Raking leaves keeps the lawn looking neat, and prevents bare patches come spring. Stash the leaves in a chicken wire compost bin and flip weekly for rich spring compost.
Plant. Go ahead and plant new shrubs to give roots a chance to dig in before the spring growing season. Don’t forget to mulch after planting!
Trim. Snow and ice will further weaken diseased and damaged branches so trim them now. Call an expert tree trimmer if necessary.
Mulch. After a light frost but before the first freeze, apply a couple inches of mulch on new plant beds. Two to four inches will keep the roots warm without smothering them.