It’s almost time to say farewell to lawn care for this year, but not just yet! This time of year is actually ideal for several lawn care tasks that will help your lawn get through the winter and look it’s best right away in the spring.
Here’s what you need to do before winter:
Test Your Soil
You don’t have to be a science geek to make good use of a soil test in your yard. To achieve a healthy, radiant lawn, you need to know what nutrients it may lack so you can plan for your fertilizing. Over the counter soil kits are available at most hardware stores and garden centers, or you can invest in a professional test and get results in about a week. The ideal pH range for healthy grass is between 6.0 and 7.0. Anything higher or lower usually results in unhealthy turf. Test healthy lawns every three years or so, and test problem lawns every year.
When you know your soil’s pH, you can plan for nutrient improvements. Making them in the fall gives your lawn extra time to absorb the nutrition and prepare better for spring growth.
Fertilize Your Lawn
Fall is an important time to fertilize. If you want to keep things simple, choose a fall-specific fertilizer blend. Feeding your lawn in fall helps it respond better to winter’s extreme temperatures, and even improves water retention. If you’re a lawncare beginner, a granular fertilizer is easier to apply and use.
As temperatures begin to drop in the fall, the warm days and cool nights make fall the ideal time for establishing new grass and strengthening your existing lawn. Now is the perfect time to attend to bare spots, and overseed your lawn for healthy new growth before winter dormancy.
Compacted soil restricts root development and limits vital water, nutrients and oxygen from reaching grass roots. Aerators correct compaction by creating openings in the soil that allow for greater circulation. Fall is the perfect time for aerating lawns, giving them plenty of time to rebuild before spring.
Continue to Mow
Keep up your mowing routine, although you may need to mow less frequently.
Keep Watering the Lawn
As long as grass is still actively growing, it needs water. You can stretch out regular watering, but water weekly if it hasn’t rained until grass goes dormant after a hard frost.
Don’t allow weeds, broadleaf and grass weeds, to seed and establish themselves even stronger in your lawn by leaving them over the winter. Choose a weed and feed fall fertilizer, and target tough weeds with spot treatments. Avoid newly planted areas unless the product is specifically for new grass.
Clean Up Leaves
Leaving leaves covering grass does not offer protection or nutrition for your grass. Left unattended, mats of fallen leaves will suffocate lawn grass and create a perfect environment for disease and lawn insects. You can mow and mulch small quantities, but rake and remove larger amounts of leaves.