Fall Lawn Care

You spent all spring and summer working on your lawn to get it looking its absolute best. For the first time since you bought your house, your lawn looks better then that asshole next door with the professional lawn service. Now it’s time to crack some beers, watch some football, and call it a year. Well, before you go blowing yourself too hard, maybe you should think about not letting all that hard work and time go to waste by ignoring the most important season for your lawn’s health. Oh wait, you didn’t realize that fall is the absolute best time to ensure your lawn looks even better next year? Time to take that green thumb out of your ass and do some work.

Feed me, Seymour

Like a boss.

During the hot months of Summer, you just don’t get the type of significant growth you saw in the Spring. But that changes again in the Fall with the cooling temperatures, which make for a great time to feed your lawn. At the first of autumn, choose a fertilizer that’s high in Nitrogen and watch the impact you can make. Then give it another application at the end of Fall before the ground freezes – this promotes root growth and will continue to do so until the ground freezes. This also allows for the storage of nutrients so that when the lawn comes to life and starts growing again in the Spring, it will give the lawn a huge kick start to the year. People who have never winterized their lawns before are always amazed at how quickly the grass bounces back into shape the following Spring. Why in the hell would you put all that work into your lawn and not give it the nutrients it needs to look even better the following year? It would be like Adrian Peterson not taking HGH to get over his torn ACL.

Note: In the south, you don’t need to fertilize with hot weather grasses (i.e. Zoysia, Centipede, and Bermuda) because they go dormant in the winter. 

Time to Seed

Light enough to push while holding a beer
Light enough to push while holding a beer

If your lawn is immature, thin, or patchy, Fall is the very best time of year to seed. The cooler temps prevent the seeds from burning out and there’s more than enough sunlight and rain this time of year for germination. Also, broadleaf weeds and crabgrass are usually dead by then, so your young grass won’t have to fight them for space. And unless you’re doing a complete overhaul, I would recommend aerating your lawn and over-seeding. Make sure that you don’t skimp on the grass seed; it’s worth the extra money to get a good blend. If you’re seeding, make sure that you use a good starter fertilizer to kick start the grass and promote deep root growth. Do not put down one that’s too high in Nitrogen or you’ll burn out the young grass. As always, make sure you give it plenty of water.

Note: If you plan on doing any transplants in your landscape, this is also an ideal time for that.

Aerate that shit

Self propelled even
Self propelled, even

Aeration is probably the best thing you can do for your lawn annually (or at least bi-annually); I can’t emphasize enough how important aeration is in maintaining your lawn’s health. Wearing golf shoes while you mow isn’t going to get it done, that was my grandfather’s favorite form of aeration and his lawn always looked like shit. Spiking it is better than nothing, but in reality you should really do a core aeration; you’ll get significantly better results.

Why should you aerate? I can give a laundry list of reasons, but by name alone you can tell that it allows air to reach your root system. The roots need air in order to grow. Aeration also allows water and nutrients to penetrate the soil and promote deep root growth; a healthy root system is key to having a healthy lawn. Aeration works as a dethatcher, as well. Thatch is the build up of living and dead stems, leaves, and roots that accumulate between your grass and the soil. Too much thatch deprives your grass of water and nutrients, essentially creating a barrier that prevents these essentials from penetrating the soil. Another benefit of aeration is that it breaks up the soil that gets compacted from foot traffic and other factors. What are some easy ways of telling if your lawn suffers from compaction? If your lawn has water run off or it collects puddles when you water, you can be pretty sure that the soil’s been compacted. One last thing: when you do a core aeration, there are going to be plugs left in the lawn that look like dog turds; please resist the urge to rake them up. These plugs will break down quick enough and provide natural nutrients to feed your lawn. Also, if a neighbor’s dog likes to use your lawn like R. Kelly treats teenage girls, the plugs make great ammunition to fire at it.

Other helpful tips

1. Continue mowing. You should not stop mowing until your grass stops growing. Since you don’t want too mow too short, raise your blades a half inch.
2. Don’t forget to water. Just because it’s not 90 degrees out, that doesn’t mean you should stop watering your lawn. Make sure not to saturate it too much, as that can lead to lawn fungus and disease.
3. Stop pruning your landscape. Pruning promotes growth and new growth will get hit hard by the cold
4. Rake your leaves. Don’t let them smother your lawn
5. If you don’t have a ton of leaves, it’s okay to mow them into the grass as compost.

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