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Fall Lawn Care Tips

Fall is a great time to give your lawn that extra boost it needs to make it through the winter months. Cool-season grasses especially need a fall feeding to get ready for next spring. Here are a few tips on how to winterize your lawn.

Woman using a leaf blower on fallen leaves

Fall Lawn Fertilizing

  • Fertilize cool-season grasses, such as ryegrass, fescue and bluegrass in September, October or November.
  • Fertilize warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, Bahia, centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia in July, August or September. Don't overfertilize centipede.
  • Specially formulated winterizing fertilizers are higher in potassium than regular lawn food. Potassium is the nutrient that makes grasses more winter hardy. Apply winterizers as the last fertilizer application of the growing season.

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Controlling Lawn Disease, Weeds and Insects

  • To help prevent lawn diseases during the fall and winter, remove leaves from your yard. Leaves left on the lawn encourage disease by preventing sunlight and air from reaching the grass. Use a rake or blower to collect the leaves and add them to a compost pile. If you'd rather, you can go over them with a mulching mower, chopping them into a fine compost for your grass.
  • For weed control during the winter months, apply a pre-emergent weed killer. Some products feature a combination fertilizer and weed killer called "weed and feed."

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Good to Know

When using lawn treatments or lawn care products, always follow package directions regarding proper clothing, protective equipment, application procedures and safety precautions.

Fall Lawn Mowing and Composting

Leaf falling into a pile of leaves
  • The best time to mulch is early fall, spring and summer. Mulch retains heat and moisture.
  • For best results throughout the growing season, use a lawn mower that can easily convert from a mulcher to a bagging unit or leaf shredder.
  • Get started on a home compost program. Save lawn waste (includes grass clippings, shredded leaves and chopped brush) for the compost bin.

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Winterizing a Warm-Season Lawn

  • With the first freeze, a warm-season lawn begins to change from green to brown. This period of dormancy is part of the natural life cycle of turf grass. If you find an amber field undesirable, there's a choice. Fall is a great time to overseed your dormant lawn with a cool-season grass to maintain a green appearance.
  • Overseed with annual or perennial ryegrass or blends of cool-season grasses. Bermuda grass tolerates overseeding better than Zoysia, centipede or St. Augustine. Time the overseeding two to four weeks before the first killing frost. Annual ryegrass is popular because of its quick rate of germination. Perennial ryegrass is more tolerant of cold, disease and drought.

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Groundcovers as Lawn Options

There are options for locations in your yard that may be too shady or moist to grow healthy grass. Fall is a great time to plant perennial ground covers, such as mondo grass, liriope and juniper to fill the void. They'll cover the area year-round and reduce the amount of grass you must maintain.

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