Preparing Warm-Season Grass for Fall

Emmaline Harvey
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fertilizing

If you live in the southern half of the country, your yard is ideal for warm-season grass. Check this article to identify exactly which grass variety you have.

The biggest fall to do for warm-season grass is to spread plenty of fertilizer. Your lawn will flourish during the warm summer months, so you should always fertilize in the spring and again in late summer/early fall.

Make sure to use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the spring, and one with a lower nitrogen content in the fall.

If your yard attracts weeds, now is the time to apply pre-emergent weed preventer. Use a product that will control weeds and also fertilize existing grass so your lawn has the proper nutrients it needs to stay healthy when the weather starts to warm up.

Note: If you need to re-seed any areas of your lawn, do not apply weed preventer on those areas.

Typically, applying fertilizer and (if necessary) weed killer are the only major steps needed to promote beautiful spring growth in warm-season lawns. If you’re noticing patches of your lawn that look diseased or damaged, apply a disease prevention product on damp grass and keep watered for at least two weeks.

Patch-and-Repair-a-Damaged-Lawn

You may have high-traffic areas of your yard where the soil has become compacted, or areas that have thatch (the layer of dead and living grass at the very base of the lawn) more than half an inch thick. If so, the base of your grass seed has been blocked from receiving nutrients essential for growth.

You can fix these problems by aerating and re-seeding those patches. Using a hand trowel, loosen up the soil in the problem area and evenly spread grass seed. Water regularly every two weeks or until the new grass is 2 inches tall.

For those with Bermudagrass who think their entire yard could use a touch-up, now is the time to overseed. This is a trick golf courses have been using for years. Simply add seed over your existing lawn.

Since Bermudagrass is brown in the winter, you can choose to overseed using a cool-season variety of grass such as ryegrass or bluegrass. Select a grass seed then apply with a spreader, using about half of what you’d typically use to seed a new lawn, making sure to apply before your Bermudagrass turns brown. Keep your lawn nice and watered for several weeks after application.

If you want to grow a beautiful lawn in a hurry, you can lay sod. Make sure to plant it at least a month before the first frost of the winter. Otherwise, the roots will not have enough time to establish themselves before cold temperatures dry them out.

Get fertilizer on quickly after laying the sod so that it can reach the roots before cold hits. Keep the sod evenly watered until then, too.

If you already 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.

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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