Although it may be pretty tempting to throw in the towel after a long summer of yard work, that might not be such a good idea. In fact, fall is actually the best time to prepare your lawn for the following spring thanks in part to its cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall.
So what should you be doing this autumn to make sure your lawn is healthy next spring? Expert Joseph Truini of Popular Mechanics put together a list of six simple tips which we’ve summarized below.
- Keep on mowing: Truini says it’s important to continue to water and mow your lawn as needed throughout the fall. As the season draws to a close, however, Truini recommends dropping the mower’s blade to its lowest setting for the last two cuttings of the year which will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass and ensure there is less leaf to turn brown during the winter.
- Aerate the soil: Truini says that fall is an ideal time to aerate your soil so that “oxygen, water, and fertilizer can easily reach the roots.” For smaller yards, you can rent an aerator for about $70 per day. If you have a yard larger than 3 acres, Triuni suggests hiring a landscape contractor.
- Rake the leaves: Truini says it is important to remove fallen leaves from your yard as soon as possible. Unmoved leaves will become wet from rain and morning dew and suffocate your grass and breed fungal diseases. An alternative to raking is using a lawnmower fitted with a collection bag or vacuum system.
- Fertilize for future growth: Most experts agree that if you are only going to fertilize once a year, do it in the fall. Fall applications deliver “essential nutrients for the grass to grow deep roots and to keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy start next spring.” Truini suggests waiting until mid-to-late fall to apply a dry lawn fertilizer to all grassy areas. For best results, Truini recommends a walk-behind drop spreader.
- Fill in bald spots: Using a all-in-one lawn repair mixture, fill in any bare or bald spots in your yard. Begin by scratching loose the soil at the bald spot using a rake before spreading a thick layer of the mixture over the area. Then, lightly compact the mixture and water thoroughly. Continue watering every other day for a couple of weeks.
- Weed control: Apply an herbicide in the fall to kill weeds and keep them from coming back in the spring. Before applying, be sure to read the package for instructions. Most herbicides should be applied in early-to-mid autumn.
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