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Did you know your garden lawn could use a little love now too? In fact, the effort you put into your lawn in the autumn will ensure that your turf looks great in the spring.
In my recent gardens, I’ve actually been removing large patches of lawn, and replacing it with low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants that save on water and effort. But the remaining turf we have in our yard, we still want to look good. We just want to use the minimal amount of chemicals and natural resources maintaining our lawn. This is one reason I prefer the Fiskars StaySharp Reel Mower, which doesn’t require oil, gasoline or batteries.
Here are some of my tips for lush and green fall lawns.
Early-fall is a great time to reseed any bare spots in your turf with grass seed. We like to add compost and other organic matter before seeding our turf. There are fewer weeds to fight in the fall, and the cooler temperatures help the grass to grow without stressing out over hot weather.
Speaking of weeds, focus on perennial broadleaf weeds such as dandelions and clovers in the fall. By removing their roots now, you’ll have fewer weeds in the spring when they start a new growth cycle.
A little tip: I find it easier to weed when the soil is damp, because the roots slide out of the soil more easily.
If you have children and pets, you especially need to be careful about using chemicals on your lawn. In early-fall and spring, we like to apply corn gluten meal, which is an all-natural pre-emergence herbicide. It won’t kill any weeds currently growing, but it will help stop weed seeds from emerging. The more consistently you use the product, the more effective it will be.
When it comes to fertilizing your lawn, it really depends on where you live. Warm-season grasses such as Bermudagrass should be fertilized in the spring. But cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass should be fertilized in early-September and again after Halloween. I prefer slow-release organic fertilizers because they are less likely to burn your turf.
If you’re not sure what nutrients your lawn needs, now is a great time to test your soil. You’ll be able to improve your soil and fix any nutritional problems before spring. Contact your local cooperative extension service for a soil test, or use one of the do-it-yourself soil tests on the market.
Don’t throw those leaves away! Shred them with your lawn mower and leave a thin layer on your soil to add nutrients and organic matter to your turf.
Does your lawn have too much thatch? Ours often does. Thatch is basically living and dead grass material that accumulates near the soil surface. To help your lawn grow well, aerate or detach the turf if your thatch is greater then a half-inch thick. Then add a thin layer of compost so the microorganisms can help decompose any remaining thatch.
As you get your garden ready this fall, don’t forget to think about your lawn. You’ll be glad you did next spring.