It’s easy to get distracted when fall’s cooler temperatures arrive. Football cranks up, the kids get busy with school, and some of us have lawn furniture to store or pools to close for the season.
But autumn is a great time of year to work on your lawn. Although we tend to think grass grows more slowly as the weather changes, that’s not the case with cool season grasses, which actually grow faster when the temperatures moderate. In the South, warm season grasses like zoysia and Bermudagrass prepare to go dormant, but they’re still absorbing water and nutrients that will provide energy for next year’s growth. No matter what region you’re in, the care you give your lawn now will pay off in greener, healthier grass next spring.
Continue to water and mow your lawn into the fall, although you may not need to do so as often. If your mower blade has dulled from lots of summer use, sharpen it now, and lower it when you reattach it. You don’t want to cut off more than one-third of the grass blades at a time.
Aerate and De-Thatch
Autumn is also a good time to aerate your lawn, which is the process of removing plugs of soil and built-up thatch, so air, water, and fertilizer can reach the roots more easily. Aeration, sometimes called core aeration, encourages the grass to develop deeper roots. If your lawn gets a lot of foot traffic, aeration will also help relieve soil compaction.
Aerate your lawn before you overseed or fertilize. If you’ve recently laid sod, wait at least 6 months before aerating. If you’re just overseeded, don’t aerate until the grass seedlings have time to mature. It’s better to let the cores remain on the lawn instead of picking them up or raking them. They’ll break down in a few weeks; mowing can speed up the process.
Test and Fertilize
Most soils don’t provide all the nutrients that grasses need to grow and stay healthy. Before you fertilize, do a quick soil test to check the pH level of your lawn. Most grasses grow best in a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. If your level is too low or too high, the grass won’t be able to effectively use the nutrients you supply. Adding lime will adjust your soil’s acidity (generally indicated by a pH reading of below 5.5), or applying gardener’s sulfur will adjust for alkalinity (a pH reading of above 7).
Make the most of your time this autumn by giving your grass the specific care it requires. Find lawncare tips for your region here: