Loosen up and let it breathe
Your lawn needs air to grow. As a rule of thumb, if you can't see the grass due to leaf coverage, then it's time to remove the lawn debris from the yard. Clearing leaves and clippings in the fall will help by removing the clutter that keeps air and sun from reaching the growing grass.
Aeration and dethatching loosen up the lawn, promote deep root growth, and reduce soil compaction that can keep grass from developing roots deep enough to absorb rainwater. Tackling these tasks in the fall can help ensure the health and beauty of your lawn come spring.
Fortunately, it's easier than ever to avoid the hard work of traditional aeration and de-thatching methods. There are now all-natural, spray-on products that aerate and de-thatch soil without mechanical means. They also condition the soil at the same time.
Drive out drought damage
Summer's drought leaves many lawns across the country straw-colored and dormant. To help your lawn recover during and after drought, fertilize it every eight weeks with a slow-release fertilizer. A lawn that has the proper nutrients grows dense and deep and will green up faster. A regularly fed lawn will also be healthier and thicker than an unfed lawn. Couple feedings with infrequent, deep watering to promote deeper roots and offer a larger reservoir of water to draw from.
Continue to feed the need
Even lawns not stricken by drought need nourishment in the fall. Fall feeding can bring dramatic improvements as the lawn recovers from summer damage. Fertilizers help "winterize" the lawn, storing vital nutrients so that underground root development can continue until the ground freezes to ready the lawn for fuller growth next spring. Two feedings - timed around Labor Day and the end of October - are recommended for northern lawns, while southern lawns are best-fed four to six weeks before the first frost occurs.
Once the lawn is aerated and de-thatched, look for weak spots in it. Overseeding, the spreading of grass seed directly onto soil within an existing lawn, can improve a lawn's appearance dramatically and eliminate the need for a total lawn renovation. Early fall is the prime time to overseed because the warm soil promotes rapid seed growth and typically, fewer weed problems emerge during this time of the year.
The day before you overseed, be sure to mow the lawn slightly lower than normal and use fertilizer when you seed. For the next several weeks after overseeding, keep the top inch of soil moist to permit growth.
If you follow these simple steps and don't neglect much-needed fall lawn care, you'll be amazed at the difference in your lawn next spring. Fall lawn care is your window to a spectacular spring and summer lawn next season. So "loosen up" and lay the lawn care groundwork this fall.
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