As the air turns crisp and leaves change color, it’s time to give your lawn a break. However, autumn is not just for pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters; it’s also a critical time for lawn care.
Proper lawn maintenance in the fall sets the stage for a lush and healthy garden come spring. This season’s lower temperatures and intermittent rain showers create an ideal environment for lawn care tasks such as fertilization, aeration, and weed control, which I’ll discuss more below!
Why Autumn is Critical for Lawn Health
During the fall, your lawn is like a marathon runner at the final stretch, absorbing all it can to prepare for winter. The grass soaks up the heat from the sun, moisture from the air, as well as carbohydrates and nitrogen in preparation for its winter dormancy.
Just as a well-prepared athlete performs better in the main event, a well-prepared lawn will spring back to lushness more effectively after the winter if given proper care in the autumn months.
Six Essential Autumn Lawn Care Tips
Tip #1: Carry On With Your Mowing Schedule
Contrary to popular belief, mowing isn’t just a spring or summer activity. Maintain your watering and mowing schedule as needed throughout the fall.
At the beginning of the season, set your mower to the top setting that will mulch leaves back into your lawn. As you near winter, you’ll face the perennial debate: to keep the mower deck lower for the final cut or not?
One argues that maintaining a regular grass height allows maximum leaf area for sunlight absorption, setting the stage for a lush spring.
The other contends that a regular grass height could lead to matting, especially when combined with spring fertilization. The answer? There’s no definite solution that will suit all lawns.
Your lawn’s needs will depend on your local growing conditions and the kind of grass you have. Consulting local experts can provide tailored advice for your specific situation.
Tip #2: Aerating the Soil
Fall is the perfect season for aerating your lawn, making it easier for water, oxygen, and other nutrients to reach the grassroots.
Hiring a professional may be more cost-effective and less labor-intensive for large yards (surpassing 3-4 acres). By renting a gas-powered, walk-behind aerator, you can only spend about $70-$100 daily.
Tip #3: Raking Leaves
Those beautiful autumn leaves can become a menace to your lawn. They block sunlight and can become a soggy mess, suffocating grass and promoting fungal diseases.
Raking should be done periodically throughout the season rather than waiting for all leaves to fall. If you have a vast yard with many trees, mulching the leaves into the lawn or using a mower fitted with a collection bag can be effective alternatives.
Tip #4: Fertilizing
If you only fertilize once a year, fall is the time to do it. As the weather cools, grass leaves increase in size more slowly, but the roots and rhizomes grow rapidly.
Applying fertilizer now will give your lawn the nutrients it needs in order for deep roots to grow, storing nutrients for the spring. Use a granular fertilizer and consider employing a walk-behind drop spreader for an even application.
Consulting local experts can help you determine the most appropriate fertilization time based on your climate and grass type.
Tip #5: Filling in Sparse Areas
Autumn is an excellent time for patching those bare, unsightly spots. Most garden shops offer lawn repair mixtures that include grass seed, a quick-starter fertilizer, and organic mulch .
Use a rake to loosen the soil at empty spots, disperse a generous amount of mixture, and water it thoroughly. Continue to water the spots every other day for the next 2 weeks to establish the new grass.
Tip #6: Keeping Weeds in Check
Fall is an excellent time to apply herbicides if your lawn is infested with broadleaf weeds. However, if you’ve recently used grass seed, hold off on the weed killer, as it can also harm new grass seedlings.
Consulting Local Experts
Don’t overlook the wisdom of local experts like nurseries and cooperative extension offices. They can offer personalized guidance tailored to your local growing conditions.
Additional resources like Sod University and Pennington Seed can provide valuable information about different grass zones and how to best care for your specific type of grass.
Autumn is more than just a transitional season; it’s a pivotal time for ensuring your lawn’s future health and beauty. The cooler temperatures and ample rainfall are perfect for essential lawn care tasks.
Following these six essential tips—mowing, aeration, raking, fertilization, fixing bald spots, and weed control—will prepare your lawn for the winter months and set the stage for a lush, verdant garden in the spring. Invest in your property in the fall season, and you’ll reap the benefits come springtime.
Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.
Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.