1. Be sure all of your leaves are picked up. Trees will drop leaves at varying times over a period of about 4-5 weeks in fall. This may make it easier for some to clean-up leaves in smaller batches but there are a few trees that will drop their leaves after you have finished mowing in the fall. Whenever possible, try to use a mulching mower to chop up leaves into fine pieces to compost back into your lawn. However, we know that sometimes this isn’t possible and leaves need to be bagged or collected for disposal. Be sure to not pack away your mower, rakes, tarps, blowers, etc. before it’s too late. You don’t want to leave leaves matted down on your lawn over the winter or they will kill grass underneath.
2. Apply a late fall fertilizer. Just because your grass appears to stop growing doesn’t mean it doesn’t need fertilized. In fact, fertilizing lawns in the fall is one of the best times you can deliver nutrition to your grass plants. Late fall fertilizer (or often called winterizer) is typically higher in some nutrients than the other materials applied during the growing season. This lawn fertilizing will not only help your lawn’s root system to develop better, it will promote better color in the spring. Your lawn could be greening up a month earlier than your neighbor’s. We’ve even seen some lawns hold most of their green color over the winter when fertilized appropriately.
3. Mow slightly lower than normal for your last cut. If you mow your lawn at 3″ throughout the year, you can take it a tad shorter on your last cut. Most times this means one mower setting to cut it about 1/2″-1″ lower. Having your lawn too long over winter can help snow mold to develop more easily as the longer, mounding grass lays over providing a dark, moist environment that snow mold prefers to grow in. Just don’t overdo cutting your lawn too short. Scalping it can lead to other problems as well.
4. Core aerate your lawn. You can have a core aeration performed to your lawn even twice a year, spring and fall. If it’s been awhile since you’ve aerated your lawn, you can still have this performed by lawn care services so long as the ground is soft enough to pull cores. The latest timing can range from November into December depending upon how cold the soil has been. Just be sure that there isn’t frost on your lawn while it is being performed as this can damage grass plants and cause some cosmetic problems over winter.
5. Take a soil test. Do you know the pH of your soil or its potassium or phosphorus levels? Have your lawn service test your soil and have it analyzed. These treatments could even be applied in late fall or late winter to help your lawn correct soil issues. This will help your lawn to uptake nutrients better which it needs for optimum color, vigor, and health.
6. Set up a time to get your mower serviced. People have a tendency to forget about the mower until they need it for its first cut in April. Avoid neglecting your mower and schedule a service appointment so that your oil and spark plugs can be fresh, and your blade is super sharp for your lawn’s first cut in the spring. Be sure to ask your service technician about recommendations on how to make sure your mower can survive the months it isn’t being used in the winter. There are some fuel additives that can help gasoline to stay fresh and they may also recommend some additional care for your mower’s battery.
7. Review your lawn care service options for next year. There are many different options for lawn care programs. Some approaches are more minimal or basic and you may not have important issues being addressed by the option you use. Call your lawn care company and discuss your treatments. They may have options for better results or even some a la carte treatments to address items such as grubs, summer weeds, nutsedge, etc. If you are unhappy with service, winter is a great time to talk to other lawn care companies and compare programs and organizations.
If you would like to discuss your lawn care needs for the time remaining this fall or look forward into next year, we would be happy to talk with you.