Did you know that the best way to ensure a green healthy thick lawn in the spring is to give it some well timed care in the fall?
Before the onset of winter and your grass goes dormant, make sure you follow these tips in order to avoid having to play doctor in the spring to sick-looking grass!
1. Keep Mowing
Your grass will continue to grow up to the first hard frost. Continue to mow your lawn, as needed, throughout the fall, remembering to keep it at 2-1/2″ to 3″ in height. Then as the season draws to a close, the height of your grass after the last cutting should be approximately 2″ to 2-1/2″. Green Oasis offers weekly and biweekly mowing service in our Calgary and Red Deer locations and generally stop mowing in mid to late October, depending on the conditions.
Cutting your grass shorter for winter helps to:
- avoid matting
- makes it less vulnerable to fungi like snow mold
But make sure you don’t cut your grass too short! Cutting too short at any time of the year is bad for your lawn as it places a huge amount of stress on it.
“Each blade of grass is a leaf, and with less leaf area, each grass plant has less surface area to provide the photosynthesis that fuels leaf and root development.” Also, “when the lawn is mowed very low, the actual crowns of the grass plants themselves can be injured by the lawnmower blade, and this opens up a host of cascading problems. As the plant puts all its energy into recovering from the crown damage, it opens up a weakness in the lawn, increasing the pressure from weeds, insects, and diseases.” Source: The Spruce
Cutting your grass shorter for winter will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass, and there will be less leaf to turn brown during the winter. Also, regular mowing in the fall helps to get rid of leaves. Go bagless and leave your grass clippings and shredded leaves on your lawn to provide nutrients.
Let oxygen, water, and fertilizer have a hope of reaching your lawn’s roots by aerating in the fall. A gas-powered walk-behind aerator can be rented, or if you don’t feel like doing it yourself, contact a professional to help. Green Oasis offers a Spring and Fall Deep Core Aeration service.
Aerating is recommended once per year, in the Spring or Fall. Regular aeration prevents soil compaction and thatch. “Lawn thatch is the layer of mainly dead turfgrass tissue lying between the green vegetation of the grass above and the root system and soil below.” The Spruce
Aerating solves the issue of soil compaction and thatch by inserting holes in the thatch and pulling up plugs of soil. It is also a good idea to fertilize after you aerate as the holes will allow the fertilizer to go right to the roots, where it will be most effective.
3. Rake & Remove the Leaves
Don’t wait until all the leaves have fallen before you begin raking. A thick mat of leaves on your grass blocks light and traps moisture beneath. If left on your lawn, your lawn will suffocate underneath from lack of oxygen.
And don’t forget to rake the corners of the lawn where the wind piles leaves up.
If you aren’t a fan of raking, a great alternative is to use a lawnmower with a vacuum and/or a bagging system. But remember, even with this method, it’s still important to remove the leaves as early as possible to avoid suffocating your lawn.
Fall fertilization is likely the most important fertilizer application of the season.
In the fall, as the weather cools and the hours of daylight shorten, the grass blades slow in growth. During this time, while the top growth slows, the grass plant is still busy socking away nutrients to the roots so it will have plenty of energy to come back out of dormancy next spring. The nutrients in fertilizer applied during the fall are absorbed into your grass and applied directly to the root system. Strengthening your lawn’s root system in the fall months will provide your lawn with reserves to draw from in the spring.
A strong root system can make or break your lawn during stressful conditions.
If applying fertilizer, it is important that you don’t apply it too early or too late in the season. If you fertilize too early, your grass may send up new growth that will freeze in the cold. If you fertilize too late, the grass roots won’t be able to absorb the nutrients being provided. Green Oasis has been providing fertilizer services for over 25 years in Alberta for residential, commercial and industrial clients. Contact our Calgary or Red Deer office if you would like help with your lawn care.
5. Fill in Bald Spots
Fall is the best time of year to fill in bald spots on your lawn as the ground is generally still warm, the sun is not as hot during the day, nights are cool and moisture is more plentiful A sparse lawn provides ideal conditions for weeds to pop up compared to a thick lawn which protects against weeds.
The quickest, easiest way to do this is with an all-in-one lawn repair mixture. Sold at most garden shops and home centers, this ready-to-use mixture contains grass seed, a special quick-starter lawn fertilizer, and organic mulch.
Use a garden rake to scratch loose the soil at the bald spot in your lawn. Then spread a thick layer of the lawn repair mixture over the area. Lightly compact the mixture, then water thoroughly, and continue to water every other day for two weeks.
6. Weed Control
If broadleaf weeds like dandelions have taken over your lawn, now is the time to fight back. Weeds, like most plants, are in the energy-absorbing mode during the fall. They’re drinking in everything that comes their way … including weed killers. Apply a herbicide in the fall and the weeds won’t return in the spring. Read more in our Blog, “The Best Time of Year to Apply Weed Control”.
If applying weed control yourself, make sure to carefully read the package label before use. Green Oasis offers a variety of weed control services. Contact our Calgary or Red Deer office to learn more.
As the weather gets cooler, if it’s dry, don’t forget to keep watering. Your lawn needs approximately an inch of water a week to keep the grass roots well hydrated and healthy heading into winter.
Plus don’t forget to …
And don’t forget to fertilize your trees and shrubs if they are showing signs of stress, are young or very mature. Not sure what signs to watch out for? Check out our Blog, “Tree & Shrub Deep Root Fertilization”.
Don’t have time to take care of your property or would like more information? Please contact us and we will be happy to help! We offer a Fall Clean Up, Deep Core Aeration, Mowing, Fertilizer and Weed Control Services and more
Earth Smart Solutions, “Lax Lawn Care Now = Lacklustre Lawn Later: 6 Fall Lawn Care Tips”
This Old House, “7 Lawn Care Musts for Your Fall Yard”
The Spruce, “Biggest Lawn Care Mistake“