Fall is a great time to start on your spring lawn care. There are many steps you can take to ensure a maintained lush green lawn. Weed Man answers your most frequently asked questions regarding fall lawn care. Fall is the best time to overseed a lawn with new grass seed. Learn the essentials so you'll be ready to give your lawn a boost before winter.
Fall Lawn Care FAQs
Every year, we receive many of the same lawn care questions during the fall months. With over 45 years in the lawn care industry, we know exactly what your lawn needs. Weed Man is here to answer your most frequently asked questions regarding lawn maintenance.
Do I need to aerate my lawn?
A: Core aeration is an effective, budget-friendly way to revitalize your lawn. Weed Man recommends that homeowners aerate their lawn once every year. While the frequency with which you need to aerate can depend on a multitude of factors, such as your soil type, aeration is vital for a healthy lawn.
Why is aerating my lawn so important?
A: So you’ve heard that aeration is important, but you aren’t exactly sure why. Well, over time, your lawn becomes compacted. This can be a result of heavy foot traffic, weather conditions, soil type and other factors. When your soil is compacted, it is much more difficult for oxygen, water, sunlight and vital nutrients to reach the grass roots. This inhibits your lawn’s growth and can lead to the development of a weak root system. During the process of aeration, plugs of soil are removed from the lawn to improve the movement of air, water and nutrients throughout the soil. This alleviates soil compaction by providing “vents” through which your lawn can breathe, allowing the grass plant’s root system to grow deeper and stronger. The result is a hardy lawn that is better able to withstand common turf stressors. Late-fall aeration can give your lawn a much-needed boost before winter.
How do I know when to stop mowing my lawn?
A: The time of year that you should stop mowing your lawn will vary depending on your exact location. If you live where it gets quite cold, you should mow your lawn right up until the first frost. Alter your mowing height from the standard 2.5 inches to as low as the lawn mower will allow, as this will ensure grass blades remain strong and upright throughout the harsh winter months. This simple change can help reduce instances of snow damage and disease that are common on turf grasses. If you live where there is a warmer climate, you may need to mow all year round! Weed Man’s golden rule is: if it’s still growing, keep on mowing!
Do I need to water my lawn in the fall?
A: Your lawn’s watering needs change throughout the year based on the weather and growing conditions. During the summer months, you will most likely need to water your lawn a lot more, given that there is less rain and extreme heat (which leads to quicker evaporation). Once fall rolls around, many homeowners often stop watering under the assumption they no longer need to. It is important to continue to monitor rain levels in the fall and supplement with additional watering to ensure your lawn receives 1-1.5 inches of moisture each week.
If your region experiences mild winters and temperatures remain above freezing, then you should continue to water every two to three weeks for approximately 15 minutes each session. This will ensure that the roots of the grass receive enough moisture to offset dry winter winds. Remember to remain cognizant of precipitation levels in your area, as you do not want to overwater.
Do I have to rake fallen leaves?
A: Colorful leaves sure are beautiful, but they can quickly cause more trouble than they’re worth. Leaf coverage restricts the amount of oxygen and sunlight that reach your lawn’s surface. It can also lead to overly wet conditions that invite fungal diseases to take flight. Removing fallen leaves from your lawn is important whether you choose to rake or mulch them. Letting leaves sit over the winter months can end up suffocating your turf and contribute to the growth of fungal lawn disease. Make it a family project to head outside and rake the yard one last time before winter hits.
You can also use a mulching mower (or purchase a mulching blade kit from your local home improvement store) to shred unwanted leaves into tiny, organically rich particles that will eventually decompose on your lawn. These leaf particles add valuable nutrients right back into the soil, resulting in a stronger, healthier lawn.
When should I seed my lawn?
This is dependent on where you live. Many southern areas will only seed in the spring. That being said, the fall offers cooler weather conditions paired with the increased precipitation which creates ideal growing conditions for new seedlings. Seed germination rates are higher in the fall and in the spring compared to the summer due to extreme temperatures and dry conditions.
Is fall a good time to fertilize my lawn?
A: Yes! Fall is one of the most important times of the year to fertilize. A common misconception amongst many homeowners is that fall feeding isn’t necessary, especially for lawns that receive fertilizer in the spring and summer months. In truth, the last application of fertilizer in the fall is the most important and effective of the year. After a hot summer, your lawn needs help recovering. Fall fertilizing also helps your lawn build up stamina before heading into the winter, helping your lawn come back healthier and stronger next spring. They feature a high concentration of potassium, aiding in the cold hardiness of your turf. It is best to apply fall fertilizer just before grass stops growing – usually between mid to late November.
A little extra attention this fall can go a long way. Weed Man can help create a fall lawn care plan that is right for your turf, allowing you to reap the post-winter benefits and enjoy healthier, greener grass when it really counts.
What should I do about my irrigation system?
Don’t forget to turn off the outdoor water supply. Winter conditions can freeze the water inside of faucets and pipes, leading to bursting pipes and flooding inside of the home. If you have an irrigation system installed, an annual “blow out” is recommended to prevent bursting and cracking pipes. This involves the use of compressed air to remove all remaining water in the system.
How can I level my lawn for winter?
If you’ve noticed dips or holes in the surface of your lawn, it’s best to address these before winter sets in. Simply blend planting soil with compost and/or sand and pour the mixture into any unlevelled areas.
Brought to you by Weed Man: We care for your lawn.
Fall Lawn Overseeding
Kelly Burke is a professional turf manager for a manicured corporate campus in New England. He is accredited in organic land care and is a licensed pesticide applicator. He formerly managed the turfgrass as a golf course superintendent and has held several senior management positions at private country clubs overseeing high maintenance lawns.
Fall is the best time to overseed a lawn or repair thin or bare areas. Cool nights and mild, shorter days provide the ideal conditions for seed germination. Grass seed is better able to retain moisture during the fall, and seedlings will thrive without the extreme heat that occurs in the summer months.
Reasons to Overseed
A lawn that’s never overseeded tends to grow old. If it is consistently mowed, it doesn’t even have the opportunity to go to seed to propagate itself. The lawn will have to rely on rhizomes, stolons, and tillering for growth. Eventually, an old lawn will have trouble maintaining vigorous growth, competing with weeds, and dealing with other lawn stresses.
Also, new varieties of grass species are entering the market every year, so it’s beneficial to integrate grass that may be resistant to drought, disease, or insect damage into a lawn with older varieties that lack these features.
Why Overseed in the Fall?
It’s fine to overseed in spring, although many people wait too long and end up seeding in the summer when it’s much more difficult to get new grass to grow. However, if you’re in the habit of applying a crabgrass prevention herbicide, you can forget about spring seeding. Most pre-emergent herbicides inhibit all seed germination for up to 12 weeks—and that puts you right in the middle of summer. Instead, it’s best to overseed right after aerating the lawn, which is ideally done in the fall.
How to Overseed Your Lawn
For cool-season turf, start the overseeding process by thoroughly aerating the lawn. Apply the new seed with a fertilizer spreader, following the product’s recommended coverage rate. It’s ideal when the seeds fall into the aeration holes because they won’t dry out as quickly and will germinate faster. You can even go over the lawn with the back of a rake to usher more seeds into the holes.
Follow the seeding with an application of your favorite fall fertilizer, applying it the same day as the seed, then water the lawn. Water once or twice every day until the new grass has begun to grow. The seed may need two weeks or more to germinate. Continue to mow the lawn as usual until it stops growing for the season.
Correct Type of Seed
Be sure to use the appropriate kind of grass seed for your climate, be it a cool season or warm season. Select the right type of seed for your lawn’s use, whether it’s high-use and intensely maintained or aesthetic and low-maintenance. Drought-resistant grasses are now available in both cool and warm season species.
Grass seed comes in a range of quality, and you get what you pay for. Often the cheap seed is made up of generic, poor-performing varieties of grass or, worse, loaded with filler like weed seeds or annual ryegrass. You don’t have to buy the most expensive variety, but look for something that’s good quality and highly recommended by local experts.