Fall Lawn Seeding & Maintenance: 5 Tasks to Grow a Better Lawn

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Fall Lawn Seeding & Maintenance Tips


Lawn Care Topics Covered:

Weeding -  Aeration - Top-Dressing - Turf Seed - Fertilizers

While it seems sort of counter-intuitive with the growing season coming to a close, fall is actually a really important time to take care of your lawn.

Weeding, aerating, top-dressing, re-seeding or overseeding, and fertilizing are lawn tasks particularly suited to the cooling weather. 

And even if you think your lawn looks great now, fall lawn seeding and maintenance will get your yard off to a better start in the spring, so its important not to neglect these tasks before it gets too cool.


1) Weed

Weedly Lawn Alert! - Fall Lawn Seeding Tasks

If your lawn is prone to broad-leaf weeds like dandelion, early-fall is a great time to treat your lawn before these weeds go dormant or put out seeds. As long as temperatures are above 60°, you can use a traditional herbicide like Bonide Weed Beater or an organic herbicide like A.D.I.O.S. Eco-Friendly Weed Control

If you only have a few weeds, you can of course, use the old fashioned dig and pull method, but using an herbicide guarantees that a weed is dead to the roots. Once you remove the dead weeds, you should seed those bare spots. Leaving empty spots will almost guarantee that weeds come back!

2) Aerate

Over time most lawn soil will become compacted (flattened or squashed down) from foot traffic and regular use. Aeration loosens up the soil and allows air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots of your grass. If you have a large lawn, you can rent an aerator from your local garden center, but if your yard is smaller, you can use a spading fork* or even aerating shoes. Aerating is really important to the health of a lawn, and many homeowners overlook this task.

*If you use a fork to aerate, be sure to jam the fork tines about 3-4 inches into the soil. Then, move the fork back and forth to widen the holes. I wouldn't recommend this for a large lawn, but for a small city yard, it's a great alternative to renting an aerator.

3) Apply a Top-Dressing

Once you have weeded and aerated your lawn, it's a great time to think about applying amendments to your soil. If you plan to reseed, top-dressing with an organic compost provides a rich planting bed for your seed. 

If you have bumpy spots or depressions, or spots prone to being soggy, you should consult with your local garden center turf expert (or consult your local cooperative extension) about the best amendment for your particular problem.

  Top-dressing with the right amendments can solve a lot of lawn problems so don't despair if you think your grass is beyond saving - a few years of treatment can really bring life back to your turf!

4) Seed

While I like to tell people any time of the year (except for winter) is great for putting down a little grass seeds on bare or recently weeded spots, most lawn care experts agree that fall is the ideal time to seed your lawn. 

The cooler (but not yet freezing) weather gives your lawn a chance to grow strong roots without having to struggle with heat. Plus, fall weather usually brings more rain--which means less watering for you!

If you have problems with your lawn, for instance its prone to weeds or is patchy and has bare spots, you may want to consider overseeding with a different type of grass seed than you've used in the past. In fact, introducing newer or improved varieties of seed can help strengthen your lawn because many newer types of seed were developed with greater disease and pest resistance. 

Another reason to introduce new seed is that many yards change over time as trees get larger. Your lawn may have been installed with a sunny grass seed mix, but now has more shade. This original grass may struggle under these conditions so it's a good idea to assess the sun and shade conditions of your yard before you buy a new seed mix. 

Two of our most popular turf grasses are from Pearl's Premium, which is ultra low-maintenance, and our tri-hybrid blue blend which is especially tolerant to heat and drought-like conditions.

If you're unsure about the best grass seed for your region or growing conditions, it's a really good ideas to consult with a turf expert or your local cooperative extension office.

5) Fertilize

If you do nothing else for your lawn this fall, you should at least consider putting down a cool-season lawn fertilizer. These lawn fertilizers typically contain a slow-release nitrogen that will be available so that your lawn will immediately green-up in the spring. They also usually contain a higher ratio of potassium, which helps grass recover from summer heat stress and foot traffic.

A Note about De-thatching your Lawn

Thatchy Lawn - Fall Lawn Seeding & Maintenance Tips

Many lawn care experts suggest de-thatching your lawn every few years (depending on your type of grass). Thatch is nothing to be overly concerned about and could actually be the sign of a healthy lawn, but sometimes your lawn gets so full of thatch that water and nutrients have difficulty penetrating to the roots. If you use a core aerator and remove plugs from your turf annually or every few years, you probably do not need to de-thatch. However, if you opt not to use a core aerator and you notice that your lawn seems yellow at the root line, you can't see the soil if you push the blades aside, or if your lawn seems very springy underfoot (almost as if you are walking on a pad), plus, seems to turn yellow quickly at the end of the summer despite using fertilizer, you might want to consider "de-thatching".

To remove an overly thick thatch, simply rake your lawn with a thatching rake. Alternatively, if you already own a multi-purpose steel-tined rake, you can go ahead and use that instead. Compost or bag up your raked thatch. 

Fall is a great time to remove thatch from your lawn since you can do it as part of your leaf-raking, top-dressing, or fertilizing activities.

Lawns, like any other living plant do need a bit of TLC to stay healthy and happy, but the results can be really worth it; I think there are few things better than kicking off my shoes and taking a stroll on a soft, green lawn. Plus, a healthy lawn is an attractive lawn, which helps maintain your property value. 

There's no doubt about it, if you take care of your lawn with these annual tasks, your lush lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood!

Tell us about your own lawn care tips and tricks in the comments or on our GreatGardenSupply.com Facebook page. We love to hear both successes and failures, so don't be shy about sharing your disasters as well as your triumphs!

  • Fall Lawn Care
  • Grass Seeding
  • Fall Yard Care Tasks
  • Lawn Thatch Tips
  • Lawn Aeration
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