If you spent your summer admiring the lush green grass on your neighbour’s lawn and want to help your lawn to be greener, fall is the time to give some extra attention to your lawn so it’s ready for next spring.
Contrary to popular belief, September is an excellent time to lay your sod. If there are areas of your grass that have been worn down with summer activities or you’ve done some recent changes to your landscape, now’s the time to lay that fresh sod and give it time to root before winter. Be sure to keep the sod well watered as it anchors its roots.
Some think that leaving the leaves to lay where they fall helps to insulate your grass from a bitter winter, but it’s likely to do more harm than good. Leaves block out the light and trap in moisture, potentially killing the grass underneath. Keep your lawn free of leaves by regularly raking or blowing them. Or, better yet, use your lawn mower to chop those leaves into mulch. The mulched leaves will be small enough to break down and provide nutrients to the lawn.
Don’t pack away that lawn mower just yet as your grass will keep growing until the first frost hits. If you let your grass get too long before winter, it is likely to mat, block out the sun and trap moisture. Don’t cut your grass too short as this will hurt the roots and make it harder for them to endure the winter. As a bonus, regularly cutting your lawn will help you mulch up those falling leaves.
Even in the fall your lawn still needs food and water. Lawn experts suggest fertilizing in early September and then again six to eight weeks later. Fertilizer will strengthen the roots to help protect them from freezing over winter and help the grass bounce back quicker at the first signs of spring. Fertilizer will also help with root growth, disease protection and tolerance to drought. A slow release fertilizer is recommended. Keep fertilizer away from waterways so the snow and ice runoff does not leak into waterways.
When the weather cools off and the suns rays aren’t beating down, many will stop watering their lawn. It’s true that your lawn is likely to see more rain and dew but it’s still important to monitor the amount of water your lawn is getting to make sure it isn’t drying out.
Seeding (or overseeding) your lawn is not only good for filling in thin spots, but it is the best protection against weeds and helps your grass stand up to winter damage. Choosing a grass seed that is resilient and drought tolerant can help your lawn prepare for winter. Seeding in the fall is an excellent idea as there is more moisture, less heat during the day, and the ground is still warm. Just like sod, this new grass needs regular watering and attention to make sure it’s good and strong before frost.
Aerating your lawn isn’t something you’ll do every year but if your soil is due for turning, fall is an excellent time to get it done. Soil becomes compacted over time with roots and debris creating thatch that blocks important things like water, air and nutrients from getting to the soil. You can hire someone to aerate your lawn, but machines can also be rented and it’s an easy DIY project you can do in an afternoon. Once you’ve aerated your lawn, it’s the perfect time to fertilize and overseed, as it will have a direct route to the roots of your grass.
Sticking to regular lawn maintenance during the fall is sure to pay off come spring. Make sure you’re doing the right work at the right time. If you seed or lay sod too late, the new grass won’t have developed the roots it needs to survive the winter. Fertilizing too close to the first frost will freeze the nutrients in place without them being absorbed.