Fall is here! The change in the season means for some big changes to prepare for in the yard. Dropping temperatures and falling leaves provide for some extra chores around the house. If some of these chores are left unattended, your lawn could pay a price!
Leaves: Mulch, Burn, or Throw Away?
The biggest chore we can think of in the fall is dealing with all of the leaves. Should you rake them into big piles and burn at the edge of your property? Should you shove them in lawn bags and leave them by the curb? Should you just mow over and mulch them to scatter them on your lawn?
Mulch! By mulching these leaves, you are allowing nutrients to be returned to the soil. Mulching these leaves will not be as simple as mowing your lawn. Make several passes in different directions to ensure no large clumps are left and the leaf material is finely chopped up.
Piles of leaves that are left unattended will have some very nasty consequences in the Spring. The compaction of the wet leaves will choke out the grass it is covering. The leaves provide a great place for different winter fungus to grow and spread. Waiting until Spring for leaf cleanup will do more harm than good. Thin areas that have large clumps of leaf debris collected will become stressed and drastically hurt turf quality.
As the fall months lead into winter, the turf will need more nutrients. The grass will need more nitrogen to sustain during the winter months as it enters dormancy. When spring arrives, the turf will be in a much better position than lawns that received no fall fertilization. It is recommended by turf scientists to apply at least 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet during these fall and winter applications. This increased nitrogen will bring great benefit to the lawn.
As we have always said, proper mowing height is at least 3.5 inches for cool season grasses. This does not change when the seasons change. For your lawn to maintain through the winter, the grass plant needs to be as strong as possible. By mowing at that height, it is proven that the turf will be healthier year round.
When do I seed?
Unfortunately if you are just now asking that question, it is almost too late! The optimum time to seed is between August 15th and September 30th. The seed needs time to germinate and grow before the first frost hits. Any seeding done after September 30th is at risk and we do not encourage it.