Tag Archives: fall

Fall lawn and yard maintenance checklist

Hopefully you’ve already Dethatched, Aerated, and Over-seeded (D.A.O.) after Labor Day and before the temperatures really drop in the cool season grass zones up north.  If you’re in a transition zone (middle of country) and have fescues, rye, or kentucky blue grass and the temperatures are starting to drop, it is a great time to get out in the yard and start!

Here is a list of post D.A.O. fall fun:

  1. Fertilize: the grass is going to benefit from ideal growing conditions and plant (especially the root) preparation before the winter. This is going to really help the grass bounce back in the spring. A fertilizer with all three N-P-K numbers is great but Nitrogen (N) and Potassium (K) are a must and generally available in many fertilizers without restrictions.  The Phosphorus (P) is a great addition to newly seeded lawns but can be restricted around water and you may need to complete a soil test to use a product with P.
  2. Water: water the lawn to help drive the roots down into the soil. Soak soil around trees and shrubs if rainfall has been light to ensure that plants enter winter fully hydrated.
    • Before winter fully hits and after your last mow (sad face!)….empty hoses, fountains, and sprinkler systems – ensure any standing water is removed from your watering equipment and store items in a dry place.
  3. Remove the leaves: while the leaves may look nice and be fun to play in for the kids, they aren’t great for grass. They block the sunlight and trap moisture. So when the leaves are falling, blow or rake them away as often as you can. Even after the trees are empty, continue raking out the corners where the wind piles leaves up.
    • Clean out the gutters: leaves can build up if you don’t have guards and block drains leading to damaging ice buildup.
  4. Protect Evergreens: Your boxwood, holly, rhododendrons, or similar often suffer in winter because their leaves lose moisture on sunny and windy days without replacing it from the soil when the ground is frozen. Surround these plants with a shelter of burlap or old sheets. The idea is to create shade and slow harsh wind, both of which help to retain moisture so the plant doesn’t dry out and die.
    • Provide additional protection by using an anti-transpirant spray on the plant after the first hard frost. The spray will dry into a thin film that reduces the moisture lost by transpiration.
  5. Keep Mowing: keep going every week or so until grass has stopped growing. Feel free to mulch or bag leaves also to save time! You might have to switch to afternoon mows with damp grass in the early morning.
  6. Clean tools and store them: Don’t throw your gardening tools in the garage or shed and forget about them until next year! Go that extra mile to clean and add a light coat of oil to mechanical equipment to prevent rust over the winter.

EXTRA FUN: Plant Bulbs: the fall is a great time to plant crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, and other spring-flowering bulbs. Try a few, see how it works and add more the next year. 

Overseeding – Cool Season Grass in the fall

BACKGROUND: Overseeding is the action of adding grass seed to an existing lawn. This may be considered by people for spots where bare areas show, or even better over the whole yard! Overseeding is a great way to improve the density of grass that has become thin while introducing new innovative grass that is likely more resistant to disease, drought, and bugs.

THE RULE (KIND OF): if 50% or more of you lawn is in good condition, overseeding can be a positive effort worth trying. If more than 50 percent of the area is in poor condition (weeds, dog spots, etc), you will want to consider a new lawn from sod or seed (bigger project).

NOTE: Pick seed that is appropriate for your lawn type and area. You probably want to make sure you are buying perennial not annual grass so that it comes back the next year. It will say right on the label of the bag.

Best Practices:

MOW LOW: We don’t typically advise this…. but because you are trying to grow grass from seed take into consideration that the seed will be competing with that existing (taller) grass and its nutrients (sunlight, water, fertilizer, etc). To give the seed a better chance MOW LOW in gradual steps. Normally, you should cut grass to a height of 3 to 3.5 inches. In this case, reduce that height to 1.5 to 2 inches. Also, bag or rake up the clippings in preparation for overseeding lawns, even if normally you do not. You want to give seeds the best chance of making good contact with the soil, and clippings would just get in the way.

RAKE TO LOOSEN SOIL: You will need good seed-to-soil contact for the new seed to germinate. Prepare areas by raking. Use a light touch, so you break up the soil surface without raking out the existing grass.

RAKE TO HELP SEED SOIL CONTACT: We recommend applying seed with a spreader to get more even coverage. Use the recommended rate for your selected seed when overseeding. Rake the area again lightly with an upside down rake after you overseed to improve the seed-to-soil contact.

APPLY STARTER FERTILIZER: apply a starter fertilizer for improved and faster results. We think going half application rate 2 weeks apart is a real pro move if you have the time.

WATER, WATER: The grass seed must be wet in order to germinate. The soil should be kept evenly moist, which may mean several water applications per day for a few weeks. Try not to over do the watering leading to flooding the area and making the seed move.

After the grass blades sprout, you’ll still need to water a couple of times per day and try to take it easy on the lawn for the first couple mows. Definitely don’t go heavy traffic, it will die. Keep up with your regular fertilizer applications and enjoy!

The best time for overseeding lawns that have cool-season grasses is in September in northern climates. You are looking for that not too hot, not going to frost too soon time frame.

The Benefits of Soil Testing, Why & How!

Quick Pro Tip:

  • Soil can be tested at any time of the year, but for optimal results get your soil tested in fall or early spring this gives you ample time to make adjustments before you start planting.
  • Use a soil composition (soil from around your yard combined) as most amendments are going to be deployed broadly around the yard and there are not likely huge swings in nutrient levels to warrant super specific small tailoring of amendments.  
  • Test every couple years to see how the amendments you have made are affecting the soil.
What is NPK

Why:

Testing your soil is incredibly beneficial to the everyday home-owner with a lawn. Testing your soil allows you to understand the fertility of the lawn and its specific nutrient levels and what it needs in order to prosper.  You can then tailor your applications to target the specific needs of your lawn. This should save you time and money while being more effective and better for the environment.

How to test your soil:

Hands down the best way to test your soil is through either an extension school/university or through a private lab.  The prices can range from $15 if you drop it off to $100 if you ship it in. The biggest problem is knowing what to do with the results.  They will provide you with a lot of language such as 3 lbs of nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft. If that doesn’t make a lot of sense to you it might make sense to use Lawn Serv.

Things you will test for:

There are many different types of nutrients or lack thereof in a yard, and they can differ city to city or state to state based on a lot of different factors.  Some of the main lawn related items you should see in a soil test result are:

  • pH level
  • Organic Matter
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium

You will see recommendations regarding nitrogen levels based on these factors and where you are located in the country also.

How to with Lawn Serv:

With Lawn Serv it is as simple as clicking a button.

Start by Clicking Get Started and we will go through the rest with you online!

Cheers!

The Lawn Serv Team

Best Practices for Lawn Care