This summer has been hot and dry. You may have had it with your lawn. It's natural. After summer winds down, the tendency is to put lawn care on the back burner until spring blooms anew. But by taking time to put your yard and landscape “to bed” in fall, your lawn will reap the rewards. Give your lawn a healthy start next spring by managing these 10 fall tasks.
1. Feed your lawn. Think of fall fertilization as refueling and replenishing your lawn after a long, hot summer. Fall fertilization will help maintain your lawn’s root health and replenish nutrients that were expended in summer
months. Fall feedings should be timed when plants are still absorbing nutrients, so don’t wait too long. Depending on your region, fall feeding can take place beginning on Labor Day or into early October.
2. Remember to water. Before you put away that watering can and retire your sprinklers for the season, remember that thriving plants are still thirsty. Water early in the day to avoid evaporation and disease development. And water
deep: When you see moisture soak into the soil of container plants and beds, apply another dose.
3. Air out the soil. Thatch build-up and foot traffic can compact soil, which cuts off oxygen and nutrient supply to the roots. Aeration loosens soil and literally airs out the earth. Soil plugs that are removed can be left on the lawn
- they will eventually break down, providing nutrients to your lawn. Balding turf, matted-down grass, sparse new growth, pools of water and tough ground are signs you need to aerate.
4. Level and reseed. Start spring on level ground by filling ruts and low spots where water collects now. Early fall is the best time to reseed a lawn so turf roots establish before winter. Loosen soil with a dethatching rake, add a soil
amendment and evenly apply seed.
5. Divide plants. If your perennials are overcrowded, fall is an ideal time to divide the root ball and replant. Cutting back the plants prior to transplanting can help reduce shock.
6. Plant fall bulbs. Plant in fall to enjoy spring’s first blooms - crocus, daffodil, tulip. The best time to plant is after the first frost so the bulbs will stay cool all winter. Dig holes for bulbs and fertilize before replacing soil.
7. Pick up leaves. Fall cleanup will save time for gardening come spring, and clearing your lawn of leaves and sticks will prevent the heavy, wet foliage from suffocating the turf. Dark, moist environments are breeding grounds for disease.
8. Mow low. Make the last mowing of the season a short cut since you’ll retire lawn equipment until spring comes around again.
9. Decorate for the holidays. Fall is the time to think festive! Draw attention to your landscape with lighting, and find ways to incorporate a pop of color by filling containers with seasonal selections - mums for fall.
10. Clean up. Wash down the patio furniture and store it for the season. Make sure to pick up toys so they don’t get buried or lost.