After the fun and traffic on your lawn during the summer, the fall is the perfect time to do some fortifying lawn care. Preparing your lawn for the winter will ensure that you have a beautiful, fully-green yard in the following spring and summer.
A thorough fall lawn care regimen includes mowing, removing lawn debris, aerating, fertilizing, and grub control.
During the peak growing months of April through August, your lawnmower blades will be at a higher cutting level. During the fall, it's time to start lowering the blade to help strengthen the roots and crown of the grass. If the grass is not clipped short (not scalped), it is at a higher risk of fungal diseases.
When the grass remains too long and becomes matted down by dead leaves and snow, there is a strong likelihood that your grass will be infected with a gray- and pink-colored snow mold. You will be able to identify this fungal mold in the spring if your lawn has dead patches that appear to be coated in cotton candy.
Best done in September and October, aerating loosens up the compacted soils. This allows your lawn to more easily absorb nutrients, air, and water into the roots of the grass.
There are 2 types of aerators to choose from. One simply pokes holes in the lawn, while the other pulls out small plugs and deposits them on the grass. The plug aerator is more efficient because it creates a clear funnel to reach roots. The plugs may look unsightly, but they will dissolve into your lawn over time.
If you prefer not to spend money on an aerator, you can simply stab a pitchfork into the ground and wiggle it.
Aerating should be scheduled 2 weeks before applying the last fertilizer of the season. Another way to pick the right time is to calculate 5 to 6 weeks before the first predicted frost.
The perfect time to apply the fortifying fertilizer is just after aerating. Fertilizing allows your lawn to store the needed nutrients to stay healthy through the long dormant winter period. Time your spreading a month before the first frost is predicted.
The best application is a weed-and-feed type product. Look for a fall feeder that is high in potassium and phosphorus. Read the package instructions to apply correctly.
The fall is also a good time to apply lime to the lawn. This will reduce built up acidity in the soil. The proper Ph Level (acidity level) will help the roots absorb the fertilizer. You will need approximately 40 pounds of limestone per 1,000 square feet of yard.
Grub control is important because adult beetles lay their eggs in the yard in July and August. If not controlled, their maturing larva (grubs) will do damage all winter, though it won't be exposed until the spring. Early August through the first weeks in September is the best time to apply pesticides. If you have outdoor pets, look for a product like Merit or Mach 2. If you don't have pets that can be harmed by poisons you can try Dylox.
All grub products need a thorough watering to activate.