During spring and summer, many people go to extra measures to make sure their yards look their best. They mow to keep the grass just the right height, and trim to get that perfect finished look. But, when the weather turns cooler, most people give their lawns a once-over season finale and head inside for the winter. Maintain your lawn in the cooler months to ensure a healthy start in the spring.
Raking leaves in the fall is a tradition of sorts for some families, but if you prefer another way of ridding your lawn of fallen leaves, you have options. Compost them by using a collection bag on a mower for use as mulch on plants, providing protection from the elements and necessary nutrients. You may also leave the leaves on the lawn and mow over them a few times to make a thin coating for the lawn. This will give your grass a boost when it begins to grow again in the spring.
Don't stop mowing your lawn just because the weather is cooler. Continue to mow through fall, leaving it at the final mowing about 2 to 2 1/2 inches tall. This optimum height prevents disease in the winter and still provides your lawn's self-sufficiency to make and store food for the coming months.
Plan to fertilize no later than mid-October, using a standard fertilizer. Don't use winter types unless you have had a soil test done that showed a low phosphorus content. Lawns that are fertilized later tend to green up earlier in the spring.
To rid your yard of dandelions, clover and other broadleaf weeds, spot-treat with a herbicide in the fall, but before temperatures fall below 50 degrees. Don't apply on the entire lawn unless you have weeds throughout.
Seeding and Sodding
Seeding or sodding your lawn should be done in the fall, preferably by mid-September. When seeding, plan ahead. Loosen the soil no deeper than 1/2 inch, and water for several weeks to settle it. Fertilize your lawn and generously seed using the guidelines on the container.