Fall Lawn TLC
Once the weather cools down it’s time to start thinking about optimizing the health of your lawn. We recommend thinking about the following things:
THATCHING: Thatch is the layer between the blades of grass and the soil that is made-up of dead and decomposing grass and roots. A certain amount of thatch is normal, however if there is ¾ of an inch or more it can cause disease issues. In addition, too much thatch can impede water and nutrients from reaching actively growing grass. If you have a small lawn a stout raking will remove thatch. If you have a large yard a machine called a De-thatcher can be rented to do the job. Thatching will make your lawn look a little rough so overseed and fertilize after you have thatched.
AERATING: Fall is a great time to aerate the lawn. A machine slices out plugs and extracts them. This allows water and nutrients to penetrate the soil more easily. After aeration rake in a thick layer of compost or loam. Pour the compost over the soil and rake it into the holes that were created. This helps add organic material to the lawn, break-up clay and reduce compaction. It is not necessary to aerate every year. If your lawn is especially high traffic, or continues to under-perform despite regular care you may consider aerating more frequently. In addition aeration reduces thatch build-up, so it can be done in place of thatching unless thatch is severe.
WEED PREVENTION: Fall is the best time to eradicate weeds. As weeds prepare to go dormant they take energy from their leaves and put it into their roots. If weed-killer is applied to the leaves it too will be transported to the root for a more effective kill. In lawns, Hi-Yield Weed Free Zone offers the best kill for broad-leaved weeds like clover and dandelion. To kill weedy grasses in a lawn Bayer Weed Killer is the best option. Always follow package instructions.
SEEDING: Fall is a great time for over-seeding or reseeding. The soil is cool and moist, ideal for germination. For over-seeding rake out any dead grass then over seed at a rate of 2 to 3 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. Cover with a light layer of compost and gently water. If you have problems with birds or rodents, cover with Reemay until the grass has germinated. Feathering out the seed into the existing lawn will help blend the patch into your lawn, as the seed may not be exactly the same.
FERTILIZE: It is important to fertilize in fall. Winterizer or Organic Lawn food are ideal for Fall applications. This type of fertilizer is designed to slowly feed through the winter and into the spring. Any time you fertilize your lawn it is important to lime too. Lime adjusts the pH of the soil and makes the nutrients added more available to the grass.
PESTS & DISEASE CONTROL: European Cranefly is a major threat to the health and vigor of lawns in the Willamette Valley. Their grayish larvae are laid in summer and will eat the roots of your lawn during the fall and winter. It is best to treat in the fall. Predatory Nematodes can be used in fall to treat the problem organically. Granular insecticides like Bayer Complete Grub Control, or Hi-Yield Turf Ranger are effective chemical controls. If your lawn has a history of fungal disease like red-thread or snow mold use a granular fungicide in fall to control them. Keep in mind that aeration and thatching can help reduce the likelihood of fungal diseases.
MOWING: For the final mowing of the season set your mower to 2 inches. Mowing low will help reduce the potential for disease and winter damage.
RAKE IT UP: Rake-up leaves on a regular basis. Thick layers of wet leaves can quickly kill the grass underneath it. This is also a great time of year to start a compost pile.
If all this seems overwhelming, we’re happy to help answer your questions. If you would like our help, our maintenance team can evaluate exactly what you need to have the best lawn on the block!