After the long dry summer, the first few showers serve as a reminder that, for your lawn, fall is spring. Proper care now can help you make the most of your turf for the year to come.
* If your soil is acidic, apply granular lime (either calcium lime or dolomitic) at about 12 lbs. per 1000 square feet any time in the fall. Also apply either an organic lawn food or a winter lawn fertilizer in September, and again in December.
* Control crane fly larvae. Use long-lasting granular insecticides (such as Bonide Insect and Grub Control) to catch as many of the larvae as possible. Beneficial nematodes are also available as an organic control.
* Evaluate your soil compaction and thatch build-up – if you are going to rent a de-thatcher or an aerator, you want to do it while you still have time to seed.
* If you are aerating, de-thatching, or if you have thin or bare spots, patch them with fresh seed. Over-seeding like this usually takes 2 or 3 lbs. of seed per 1000 square feet, and should be done by mid-October.
* If you are not over-seeding, prevent new weed seed from sprouting with a pre-emergent herbicide (such as Hi Yield Turf and Ornamental Grass and Weed Stopper)
Lawns that have gone dormant for the summer need a little extra attention:
- As new growth begins, mow one time really low to encourage vigorous new growth
- While the grass is still brown and short, rake a fresh layer (about 1/2″) of compost into the turf, either before or after fertilizing
- Some weeds will respond to the changing weather faster than your grass; remove or herbicide them to reduce competition
Now is an excellent time to plant a new lawn. Improve or import soil; apply lime and fertilizer as above. Spread seed at 10 lbs. per 1000 square feet, and either roll it in with a water-fill roller, or cover it with about 1/8″ of fine compost. For best germination, do by mid-October.