17 Sep Fall Lawn Maintenance Tips
Fall Lawn Maintenance Tips
Fall is right around the corner and with it comes cooler weather and family gatherings for the holidays. Sod U has compiled a list of generic tips to help your warm season and cool season lawn transition into the colder months ahead. For more specific information for each grass type, view our fall lawn maintenance tips for zoysia, St. Augustine, bermudagrass, centipedegrass, bluegrass or fescue. Be sure to also check out our blog on the difference between warm season and cool season lawns to further understand why maintenance guidelines differ by grass type.
You will probably mow your lawn a lot less during the fall months. This is good for warm season lawns such as zoysia, bermudagrass, St. Augustine and centipedegrass. Keeping your warm season lawn slightly higher will encourage deeper root growth during the winter so that the grass will survive through winter dormancy. For cool season lawns such as bluegrass and fescue, a mowing height between 2.5–3 inches during the fall is ideal. This mowing height helps to prevent snow mold in snow prone regions. If you would like to learn more about generalized mowing heights for each grass type, visit our Lawn Mowing Guide.
It is important to water your lawn less as temperatures drop. Too much water will lead to disease. Temperatures are changing around this time of year and so are soil conditions. Fall is one of the most optimum times of the year for fungus to start appearing—especially when overwatering and shade from fall leaves combine. You will still want to water to prevent drought stress while the grass is actively growing. Even though your warm season lawns will begin to enter stages of dormancy, light watering will prevent dehydration. In comparison, cool season lawns require about 1–1.25 inches of water per week including rainfall. Watering both types of grasses in the early morning will decrease the risk of certain turfgrass disease. If you would like to learn more about irrigation for each grass type, visit our Lawn Irrigation Guide.
Fertilization differs this time of the year compared to the other active growing seasons. As previously stated, outdoor temperatures are starting to change—so are soil conditions. Your grass is a living thing that needs specific nutrients at this time. Sod University recommends two different fertilizer options for the fall. You will only need to use one of the two options for fall fertilization. The Fall Fertilizer Box, in particular, has three separate bottles of fertilizer in it that help your lawn recover from the hot summer temperatures it just endured as well as prepare for the colder temperatures ahead.
In the early fall, you will start off with applying Boost to revitalize the green leaf blade color after the heat of summer. The rapid green-up of your lawn will last from the time of application through the remainder of the growing season with Boost’s time release formula. In the mid-fall, you should make an application of the second bottle in the box, Maintain, for well-balanced nutrition. Maintain serves to help with color retention late into the cooler months ahead and fortifies the root system to help it survive throughout dormancy or snow. In the late fall, you should apply Recover to prepare your lawn for environmental stressors of this colder weather.
Lawnifi Foundation is a slow-release granular fertilizer option that comes in a 25 pound bag and lasts for three months. With a 29-0-5 NPK formulation, Lawnifi Foundation is the perfect granular fertilizer for lawns and gardens. The two percent iron included in Lawnifi Foundation’s mixture helps plants carry oxygen throughout the leaves, roots and other parts of the plants to promote a green, healthy lawn. Featuring slow-release nitrogen, Foundation gradually feeds your lawn over an extended period of time without overwhelming your lawn with nitrogen during the fall. Both Lawnifi Foundation and the Fall Fertilizer Box cover 5,000 sq. ft. Learn more in Granular vs. Liquid Fertilizers or by clicking on the two products below. For more generic information about the Lawnifi brand, read Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer?.
Fall Weed Control
Your warm or cool season lawn has just made it through the summer months when it is not a recommended time for herbicide applications due to hot temperatures. Now that it is starting to cool down, you are free to apply both post-emergent and pre-emergent herbicides without risking any damage to your lawn. You may even notice that the weeds from summertime are starting to die off. Unfortunately, there are winter weeds that will start to pop up when the months are colder too.
A post-emergent herbicide controls any current weeds you are experiencing whereas a pre-emergent herbicide, as its name suggests, serves to prevent weeds from appearing. Fall is actually the best time to apply a pre-emergent—especially if winter weeds have been a big problem in the past years. You can also do this in the springtime around March or April. You can read more about pre-emergent applications in the fall in How to Use a Pre-Emergent Herbicide in the Fall. Some hard to control weeds that may appear around this time include Poa annua, crabgrass or goosegrass.
- Coverage: 50 lbs. covers about 12,500 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient(s): Prodiamine 0.37%.
- Ease of Use: Requires granular drop or broadcast spreader for application.
- Best Used On/For: Established warm and cool season turfgrass before weeds appear.
Read product labels before application.
Pictured above: Another tough weed that can appear year after year called sedge.
Fall Insect Control
Although there could be a variety of insects that may be invading your lawn at this time, the main ones most universities recommend you look out for include grub worms for both warm season and cool season lawns, as well as chinch bugs. Chinch bugs are usually the most active in the months of June–early September, but may still be present in some lawns such as St. Augustine. If you have insect activity, treat with an insecticide labeled to treat the insect you are seeing. If you use a granular variety, water the lawn immediately after application to help with absorption. Visit our Insect Identification blog for more details.
- Coverage: 30 lbs. cover between 16,000–21,000 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient: Imidacloprid 0.5%.
- Ease of Use: Requires a drop or broadcast spreader for application.
- Best Used On/For: Broad-spectrum systemic formulation that offers preventive and curative treatment of insect control in turfgrass and landscape ornamentals.
Read product labels before application.
Fall Fungus Control
It is recommended you apply a fungicide at preventative rates as this will help the grass enter colder months in a healthier condition. If you have had a fungus before, you may need multiple applications in affected areas. If spring dead spot was a problem, apply a fungicide at high rates to the problem area(s). Consider mapping those areas because fungicide treatment can be expensive. If you use a granular variety, water the lawn immediately after application to help soil absorption. If you have a warm season lawn, be sure to check out our Sod University blog, Beware of Late Fall Fungus for Warm Season Lawns. For generalized disease control information, read Lawn Disease Control.
- Coverage: One bottle covers 2,500 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient(s): Propiconazole 1.45% and Lamda-cyhalothrin 0.08%.
- Ease of Use: Hooks up to your garden hose for an even spray application.
- Best Used On/For: Outdoor topical/contact fungus and general insect control.
Read product labels before application.
Pictured above: An image of large patch.
Fall lawn maintenance differs from that of spring and summer maintenance. With the changing of the seasons also comes the changing of temperatures, weather and soil conditions. It is important you make these changes in maintenance so that your grass is prepared for the cooler months ahead. For more specific information for each grass type, view our fall lawn maintenance tips for zoysia, St. Augustine, bermudagrass, centipedegrass, bluegrass or fescue.
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