Preparing Transition Zone Grass for Fall

Emmaline Harvey
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Congratulations! You live in the lucky belt running right through the middle of the country with weather that can sustain both warm- and cold-season grasses.

Scroll through Get To Know Your Warm Season Grasses or Get To Know Your Cool Season Grasses to identify exactly which grass variety is growing in your lawn.

Fall is the most important season for lawn care. Fair temperatures, steady precipitation and softer sunlight all work together to create the ideal conditions for prepping your grass for a beautiful spring.

Your lawn will flourish once temperatures begin to rise, so it’s absolutely crucial that you get fertilizer in those grass roots now, before the first big chill of winter hits. This will give the grass the nutrients necessary for a head-start on growth before you add another round of fertilizer in the spring.

If you find that your lawn is susceptible to weeds, be sure to apply a pre-emergent weed preventer in addition to the fertilizer. If you have just reseeded or choose to overseed (see below), do not apply weed preventer to those areas with new grass. They will be too young to withstand the chemicals.

If your lawn looks too sparse for your liking, consider overseeding to promote lush growth in the spring. Overseeding is a simple trick that the golf industry has been using for ages. Just spread grass seed over an existing lawn.

This technique is highly recommended for cool-season grasses such as fescue, ryegrass and bluegrass. When overseeding, a spreader will help you evenly cover your entire lawn in grass seed. Use about half the amount of seed as you would if you were seeding an entirely new lawn.

Overseeding can be used for the entire lawn, or just for areas that see more wear and tear. If you’re seeing diseases in certain spots, patches that have become compacted or thatch that has grown more than a half-inch thick, aerate before seeding or fertilization.

If you’d rather keep the overseeding to smaller areas, you’re going to have to use some elbow grease. Use a hand trowel or garden fork to loosen the soil and evenly sprinkle grass seed over the patch (not so thick you can’t see the soil underneath) and water often for two weeks.

For addressing concerns in sodded lawns, aerate the problem area 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.

Finally, if no new sod or grass seed was applied, remember that you can keep on mowing your lawn for a few more weeks before taking a break for the winter. Just move your blade height to 1/2 inch height for the remainder of the fall.

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