While we sometimes like to push the thought of heavy snow and cold temperatures out of our mind for as long as possible, it is true: they are on their way to Des Moines. But, before we think ahead too far, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy in our yards. To keep your landscape looking its very best, follow these fall lawn care tips.
Give It One Last Cut
In the summer, it’s best practice to leave your grass a little longer, since this can retain moisture, encourage deeper rooting, and shade out weeds. But in the fall, on your last mow of the year, cut the grass so it’s about only two inches high. This will prevent matting and fungal growth during the winter.
Sharpen Your Mower’s Blades
This is the time of year to check the condition of all your tools, including lawnmowers. If you notice that on your last few cuts that the grass tips turn brown shortly after mowing, the grass looks torn instead of cleanly sliced, or your lawn is unevenly cut, then it’s time to resharpen the blades on your mower.
Remove the Leaves
After the leaves have fallen from the shade trees in your landscape, rake them up or use a leaf blower to direct them to a certain area, then add the leaves to your garden as mulch. Besides fertilizing the soil, leaves in your garden also protect it and create shelter for overwintering insects.
If the leaves just keep falling and falling and you and your rake can’t keep up, you can go over them with your lawnmower to create a thin layer of organic mulch to leave on the lawn. The layer should be no more than an inch thick, though, because otherwise you could deprive the soil of oxygen.
Aerate and Overseed
Each year, our lawns get compacted by precipitation, foot traffic, and thatch, which is a layer of dead grass that sits just above the soil on your lawn. As the soil becomes compacted, less oxygen circulates through the ground, meaning nutrients and water have a harder time getting to the grass’s roots. You can improve your lawn’s aeration by using tools like plug and spike aerators, which essentially poke holes in the ground to work the soil and reduce compaction.
This is also a great time to target any patchy or damaged areas in your lawn by scattering seed there. Water the areas regularly as the seedlings root. Not only will overseeding fill in the space with lush growth, but it will also prevent weeds from taking over the vacant spots.
It might seem obvious to fertilize your lawn in spring since you’re anticipating the greener days to come. But fertilizing in fall is important too. While we won’t see the grass as it’s under a blanket of snow, it still needs to stay alive, and it needs the energy to do so.
When applying fertilizer in fall, don’t apply it too early, like when the grass is still growing. If you do, then the nutrients will be put toward growth rather than storage.
There’s a lot of beauty in fall, from trees with changing foliage to stunning flowers. Completing fall lawn maintenance will ensure that all eyes stay on the cozy autumn colors in your landscape, plus you’ll be better prepared when spring comes around.