It’s that time of year again when the temperatures drop, the fall rains come and thoughts turn to restoring lawns and landscapes! Here are a few tips that will help you in this endeavor and keep your landscaping looking good through the fall and throughout the year.
SEEDING: Fall is the best time to apply grass seed to repair damaged areas or thicken existing lawn. Seeding at this time allows two establishment periods (fall and spring) before the grass must go through a hot, dry summer. Also, soil temperatures are warm to promote fast germination and the nights are cool.The increased morning dew helps keep seeds moist. In the fall your lawn will also have reduced pressure from competitive weeds. If you do have a weed problem: Do not use a pre-emergent if you will be overseeding, wait until the spring. If you are not overseeding, go ahead and use the pre-emergent now.
MAINTENANCE: Follow watering and mowing suggestions listed below. Apply a premium winterizing fertilizerThe following fall maintenance instructions published by Pickseed Grass Seed should help you. I have reproduced it here for your instruction:
- Most lawns require a minimum of 2.5cm (1") of water per week during the summer.
- In dry conditions, water heavily once a week as opposed to a daily sprinkling (daily sprinkling encourages shallow roots, which will increase the chance of burn during hot spells)
- Try to wet the entire root zone.
- Do not water at night – the chance of fungus developing is increased.
- Use a rain gauge or aluminum pie plate to measure if the correct amount of water is being applied.
- Ensure mower blade is sharp to prevent frayed appearance.
- Mow to 5cm to 7.5cm (2"-3") in spring and fall
- Raise mower another 1cm (½") during hot weather to improve drought resistance.
- Never remove more than 1/3rd of the grass blade at one mowing.
- Change direction of the cut each time to keep coarse grasses under control and ensure an even surface.
- Dethatching is no longer a recommended practice on home lawns. It creates openings for weed germination and causes stress to the existing turf. Aeration is now recommended for decreasing thatch as well as compaction.
- Aeration will increase the amount of air, water and nutrients getting to the soil, which will strengthen grass roots and help create a healthier lawn.
- Aeration should be done annually in high traffic areas.
- Aeration before an application of fertilizer will allow nutrients easier access to root systems.
- Read the complete label before using.
- Remove debris, toys, etc from the lawn.
- Use a good broadcast spreader with an accurate flow setting.
- Wash and lubricate spreader after use.
- Fill the spreader on the drive or walk and not on the lawn.
- Sweep up spilt fertilizer.
- Shut off the spreader when stopping or turning.
- Apply half of the required fertilizer in one direction on the lawn (i.e. north/south). Apply the remaining fertilizer across the lawn (i.e. east/west). This will help to provide even coverage and prevent streaking from missed spots and overlap.
- Do not apply Weed & Feed when rain is expected.
- Do not water the lawn for 48 hours after applying Weed & Feed
- Store any remaining fertilizer in a cool dry place.
- Wash after using fertilizer.
- Grass seed germination is not compatible with weed control products used on lawns. They cannot be applied with in 6 week of each other. As a general rule - seed in the spring and weed in the fall or weed in the spring and seed in the fall.
Finally, If you have decided to allow a lawn care professional take care of these items for you- make sure you get several quotes. Services can vary widely from one provider to another. One thing to take into consideration is that if several neighbors are willing to schedule a service together, you will get a great rate from any landscape company. Something to think about to both help you get a great lawn AND save a little bit of money!
About the Author:
Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a registered landscape architect and active in the landscape design/build industry for over 25 years. For additional inspiring project pictures, design ideas, or great garden gifts, take a look at these websites:
GARDEN ART AND GIFTS: WWW.TriadGarden.com
DESIGN WORK PORTFOLIO: WWW.HawkinsLA.com