Believe it or not, the lawn maintenance that is done in the fall has a direct impact on the health and attractiveness of your lawn next spring and summer. There are several fall landscape maintenance tasks that must be on your annual to-do list.
1. Up the Nutrients
A fall fertilization treatment ensures that there are plenty of available nutrients in the soil for when the grass resumes its growth cycle in spring. Have a winter fertilizer applied, as these tend to contain the more stable nutrients like potassium and phosphorus that will persist in the soil over winter, as opposed to spring and summer nitrogen-heavy fertilizers that quickly drain out of the soil.
2. Remove the Thatch
A little bit of thatch mulches the lawn grass so it is insulated against temperature fluctuations and water loss, but too much prevents blade growth and moisture penetration into the soil. Generally, if the layer of dead plant material on the soil that makes up the thatch is thicker than 1/4 inch, then it is a good idea to have the lawn dethatched before the grass goes dormant for winter. Too thick of a thatch layer can inhibit growth come spring.
3. Clean Up the Leaves
Autumn is the time for falling leaves, but rake them up after you have enjoyed the changing colors on the trees. Dead leaves left on the lawn over winter can smother out the grass or lead to fungal lawn diseases, neither a good thing if you want a green lawn come spring. You can have the leaves raked and removed, or they can be mulched and turned into a compost pile to build up the soil in the garden beds on your property.
4. Mow Properly
A common mistake is to scalp the lawn during the last mowing of the fall season. Mowing too low doesn't prevent the grass from looking unkempt in the winter, it just increases the chances of cold damage, bare spots, and spring weed incursion. If issues with snow mold or winter matting are a problem, you can lower the lawnmower blade to about 2.5 inches high, but avoid mowing any lower.
5. Over Seed Bare Spots
Finally, overseed over any bare spots in the lawn. Just before the first snow is ideal, as the seeds will lie dormant until spring but they will be protected from marauding birds. Come warm weather, the seeds will quickly germinate and establish in the warming, moist soil.
Contact a landscaping maintenance service if you need more help with your autumn lawn care needs.