Just when you get through the busy yard working season, you may think you are out of the woods and all the work is done, bring on the snow. If you have this mentality you are missing a crucial step in lawn care, fall clean up and maintenance.
The most important thing to remember during the fall months is to get leaves off of your lawn. This may be common sense to some, but failing to get the leaves off of your lawn could be very harmful to your yard. All of the work you have put into having the best grass on the block is worthless when you pack up your tools too soon.
✓ Rake up your leaves (before it snows)
DID YOU KNOW:
✓ Get the right tools
Leafblower – This will help get leaves out of your landscaping. As you may recall from a previous post about the Rock vs. Mulch. During the fall you may regret choosing mulch as the leafblower will make a mess of beds, but everything should be simple enough to tidy back up.
Rakes – Obviously you need a rake to rake up leaves. Metal or plastic? We choose the plastic rakes that are the biggest you can find. These tend to work the best for getting more leaves up in less time.
Gloves – if you are a weekend warrior like most DIYers your hands aren’t use to manual labor, nothing wrong with that. Having a nice pair of gloves will help to avoid blisters and ensure that you don’t have to sit out round two.
Bags – If you are deciding not to compost your leaves, if you don’t have room, or if you aren’t having us or someone else pick your leaves up you’ll need a handful of good lawn bags to pack them up. You can check with your garbage provider to see if they have a program to pick them up, or find a local compost or nursery that may be interested in taking them.
BONUS Riding Lawnmower – If you have a riding lawnmower with a bag attachment you can suck up the majority of your leaves with minimal effort. While you may have to empty the bags a few times, the workload is a lot less than raking your whole property by hand. When using a riding lawnmower you will still need to get your leaves out of landscaping and around tough to reach corners, but again a few square feet compared to thousands.
✓ Aerate your lawn
Once all of your leaves are up and cleared off now is the time to think about the health of your lawn. During the fall it is a perfect time to aerate your lawn, plant seed, and fertilize.
Aerating is a process that involves making small holes in the soil to ensure water and nutrients can get to grass roots. These small holes help prevent soil compaction and help the grass grow very strong and health roots. With healthy roots your grass with be lush and help keep weeds at bay.
You can rent an aerating tool from your local hardware store. The best option is one that will remove plugs from your ground as these are the best to break up the soil effectively. Be sure that you are aerating your lawn after watering or a rain storm. You should allow the removed plugs to thoroughly dry, then mow over them to break them up.
✓ Overseed where needed
Fall is a good time to overseed your lawn. This will help bolster your existing lawn and allow it to come back more lush in the spring. Cool weather grasses will do better for fall planting this includes but is not limited to Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrasses and tall fescues.
You may want to wait until spring to mow your newly planted grass. If you have aerated already your lawn should be ready for overseeding. You can always till up any bare spots. Mix your grass seed with some top soil and organic matter like peat moss for better yield.
✓ Fertilize (really!)
In the fall you will want to use a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, something with at least 20 nitrogen (20-8-8). The three numbers on fertilizer are for nitrogen, potassium and potash. Nitrogen will help your grass blades grow bigger and give it a brighter color. Potassium will help your grass grow stronger thicker roots, and potash will help the grass absorb all of those nutrients. You will want to follow the manufacturers recommendation for application. We will write more about the power of fertilizer in a future post.
So to summarize fall lawn care is just as important as the spring and summer stuff, almost more important. Instead of dealing with weeds your enemy are the leaves. Be sure to get them up and off of your lawn before the snow traps moisture underneath them. If you don’t this will leave you with a headache when things thaw.
Also consider aerating, seeding and fertilizing your lawn before the freeze to breath a bit of life into things before the hibernation kicks in. As always feel free to give us a call to help with any of your fall clean up needs. We have a special going on now for the whole package.