Preparing Cool-Season Grass for Fall

Emmaline Harvey
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If you live in the northern half of the country, your yard is ideal for cool-season grass. Check this article to identify exactly which grass variety you have. If you remain unsure, bring a sample to your local Home Depot and they’d be glad to help you out.

The biggest to-do on your fall lawn checklist should be to aerate and overseed your lawn to promote beautiful, lush grass come springtime. Aerating simply creates holes in your soil to allow air and nutrients beneath the surface and into your grass roots.

There are numerous aerating options on the market, but the best is a core aerator, which actually removes plugs of soil from your lawn. You can rent a core aerator from Home Depot for the day, or longer.

Make sure you thoroughly aerate your lawn by going over it once, then going over it again at a 90 degree angle from your original approach so that your entire lawn has been crisscrossed.

Once aeration is complete, you can either leave the plugs to naturally break down, or wait a few days until they’ve dried up and pull a strong rake over your lawn to crumble the plugs.

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Now that fresh air is circulating in your lawn, it’s time to overseed. Overseeding is a simple trick that the golf industry has been using for ages. All you do is spread grass seed over an existing lawn.

While this technique is typically only recommended for diseased or damaged lawns in other regions of the country, overseeding is highly recommended for cool-season grasses such as fescue, ryegrass and bluegrass.

Since the soil is still warm in the fall, young grass can germinate and has more time to establish roots before halting growth in cold weather.

When overseeding, use a spreader to cover your entire lawn in grass seed, using about half the amount of seed as you would if you were seeding an entirely new lawn.

For example: A general rule of thumb for applying a new fescue lawn is six pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet. So if you’re overseeing, you’d apply three pounds per 1,000 square feet. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you seed your yard correctly.

Once the new seed is in the ground, go ahead and apply a healthy dose of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Remember, you will need to fertilize again in the spring. Use a product with a lower amount of nitrogen once the weather warms up.

If you have a sodded lawn and there’s a problem area you’d like to address before winter sets in, aerate the problem spot and lay down enough fresh sod to cover it. Water regularly, and fertilize the entire yard so that the growth in your new patches will blend in evenly with the rest of your lawn.

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