As the growing season is coming to a close, it is very important to maintain healthy lawn care practices to prepare your lawn for the best winter possible. Lawns are living organisms and as the coming months bring changes in weather, we need to understand how to best prepare the turf as it enters dormancy for the next few months. By following our proven steps, we guarantee that your lawn will not only be on track for a successful winter, but also enter next spring on the right foot.
Throughout the growing season, we stress the importance of a balanced fertilizer program. As the seasons change, the needs of the plant also change. In the spring, the turf uses nutrients in fertilizer to produce energy to form seed heads. Appropriate nutrition in the summer months allows for cool seasons grasses to better fight off diseases or fungus.
In the fall, plants begin to focus their energy on nutrient storage in the root system. A late fall fertilizer should focus on strong and healthy root development. Skipping a fall fertilizer application can deny the turf with the nutrients it will need to have a successful dormancy. Often times, the effects of skipping a fall fertilizer application are not noticed until the spring.
Many of the weeds that are present in Central Indiana lawns in late fall are also present in the early spring. Fall weed control applications are very important as they kills weeds that can linger all winter and begin growing in early spring. When we see those weeds growing in February and March, we are unable to safely apply a herbicide that can effectively kill those weeds.
Mild are and ground temperatures in the fall provide for a great opportunity for a final weed control clean up for the year. Applying the proper herbicide with the correct formulation will provide for a much cleaner lawn now and in the spring.
One indicator for quality control we always look for in lawns in the early spring what weeds are present. Many of the dandelions and clover should be killed with properly applied fall applications. Because of the timing of these applications, we find that lawns treated properly in the fall will be cleaner in the spring.
Maintaining a mowing height of at least 3.5 inches for cool seasons grasses applies for year round lawn maintenance. In preparing a lawn for the winter months, root zone development is crucial in turf grass. Mowing at a proper height of 3.5 inches ensures that the root zone is not damaged by bad mowing practices.
Some say to mow shorter and shorter the closer we get to winter to prevent diseases such as snow mold. The reality of this disease damaging a lawn in Central Indiana is highly unlikely. Snow mold on properly mowed turf typically will not even show signs of symptoms until after 40 days of snow cover. For the Wabash Valley, it is very hard to find records of the last time we had 40 days of snow covering the ground. Even if all of the conditions are present in your lawn, a taller turf will show fewer symptoms and be more able to come out of the disease as weather changes.
As the growing slows in your lawn, you will still want to consider leaving the mowing height at 3.5 inches and mow over all of the leaves as trees begin to drop. By mulching and mowing over the leaves, you are providing added nutrients and microbial back into the soil to feed the microorganisms that help to keep your lawn healthy. Mulching often takes less time and is more environmentally friendly than raking or burning.
If you live in a city where they will collect the leaves to compost, you may choose participate in that program as well. Keep in mind that if you pile the leaves in the tree row, it can damage the existing turf and by the time the leaves are removed, it will be too late to plant new grass seed for that year.
Lawn Mower Maintenence
As the season ends, be sure to spend some time providing maintenance to your lawn mower. Refer to your specific lawn mower owners manual for instructions on changing oil, air filters, spark plugs, or other parts that break down over time. We always recommend checking the mowing blades several times throughout the season. Replace dull, bent, or chipped lawn mower blades and ensure all belts are free from any excessive wear. A properly stored lawn mower in the fall will make for a much easier start in the spring.
By following these steps, we can ensure that your lawn will be prepared for the winter months and enter next spring healthy and ready to grow! If you have any questions about lawn care or our program, please feel free to let know. You can always reach us through our website, Facebook, or Email.