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Mountain Gardening: Fall Lawn Care

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Would you like to have a thick, green lawn starting in spring? This fall lawn care program is sure to get your cool-season turf in top shape for next season.

front yard green grass

By Jodi Torpey

The best defense is a good offense. That’s as true for lawn care as it is for football.

The start of football season is a good reminder that it’s time to be proactive and tackle some of next year’s lawn care problems right now. A three-step approach of core aerating, overseeding, and fertilizing helps create a thick, healthy lawn that can defend itself against weeds and other turf troubles next summer.

plugs from aeration

The first step in a fall lawn care program is to core aerate the lawn. Core aeration uses machinery to pull plugs from the lawn, helping water and air reach deeper into the soil. Water the lawn a day or two before the aeration to make plug-pulling easier. Pull as many plugs as possible and then leave them on the lawn to decompose.

An optional but worthwhile step is to top-dress the lawn with compost after aerating.

Schedule this lawn maintenance early, so the turf has about a month to recover before snow starts to fly.

Another way to prevent next season’s problems is to pull any growing weeds to keep them from going to seed.

grass seed at Lowe’s

If your lawn looks stressed or thin from a long, hot summer, overseed with a good-quality grass seed. Be sure to match the grass seed to the type of turf you have, whether it’s bluegrass or another cool-season turf variety such as ryegrass or fescue.

fertilizer in drop spreader

Finish your fall lawn care program by using a drop spreader to cover the lawn with a thin layer of a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Then keep the lawn watered through fall.

Even though it won’t appear that the grass is growing, underground it’s generating side shoots and rhizomes that make for a thicker lawn.

snowy front yard

If you follow these basic lawn care steps now, your turf can make the most of late-winter and early-spring snows for the greenest lawn on the block next year.

Do you have any additional tips for fall lawn care? Please share them here.

See more Mountain Gardening Articles.