Preparing your lawn for the winter season is a critical step toward achieving the healthy green lawn every homeowner longs for. But fall lawn care doesn’t have to be complicated.
Whether you live in the frigid north or more temperate climates, this fall is the best time to ensure next year’s lawn growing season is a successful one. The important checklist items are the same regardless of where you live, with slight variations.
- Fertilize. Promoting healthy grass root growth now is the best way to protect against opportunistic weeds and insects, and will give your lawn a head start for the next growing season. Be sure to use a lawn fertilizer especially formulated for winterization, like GreenView Fairway Formula Fall Fertilizer. The fertilizer is best applied before the grass stops growing – and as always, the right combination of quick- and slow-release components are critical.
- Water. Just because the summer heat has dissipated doesn’t mean your lawn doesn’t need to be watered. Lawns in more northern climates will benefit from watering right up until the first freeze, while homeowners in the south should generally continue to water their lawns every two or three weeks as long as the ground temperature is above freezing.
- Seed. While warm-season grasses (the types that thrive in the south) are best seeded in the spring or summer, cool-season grasses should be planted in the fall. Take this opportunity to overseed (after aeration or thatching) your lawn or repair dead lawn patches.
- Maintain. Don’t forget to keep your lawn trimmed to the correct height as you prepare for the winter. Although the cooler weather means slower growth, it’s important that your lawn be long enough to insulate, yet short enough to not matte down under the weight of snow. In the north, this means your final grass cutting should be a little shorter than usual — about 1½–2 inches — while in the south, cutting grass to 2–2½ inches is just right to help insulate against the occasional frost or freeze.
One more important fall lawn care topic concerns whether or not to rake or mulch leaves. Much of the confusion results from the fact that there are benefits to both.
Most experts recommend that you rake up and discard (or compost) the initial heavy fall of leaves, since they can block air and light from getting to your lawn.
Later in the season, once the bulk of the leaves have been removed from your lawn, it may actually be beneficial to mulch a thin layer of leaves, which will decompose, adding organic matter to your soil and providing some additional protection from the elements without adding excessive weight.