Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Lawn Care

I have to admit, that we don't do much to maintain our lawn. We don't really have a lot of it, and we prefer to put up with a few weeds rather going through the time and money of adding things to try to kill the weeds or green up the grass.

But for those of you who like a lush, green lawn, here are some:

Tips for Fall Lawn Care

1. First, decide if you want to keep the same amount of lawn - Today, more and more eco-minded gardeners are deciding to cut back or cut out their lawn, all together. Groundcovers, larger garden beds, rain gardens, wild flower gardens or vegetable gardens are all good alternatives for water hogging, fertilizer intensive lawns. For more ideas about replacing your lawn, visit . If you decide to keep some or all of your lawn, keep reading.  
2. Get to know your grassAs with everything in your landscape, it’s best to get to know as much as you can about the species that you are dealing with so that you can make the right choices in taking care of it. Whether you already have an established lawn or are putting in a new one, get to know your grass. Turfgrasses that provide winter lawn color in the area are known as cool-season grasses. Grasses which go dormant after the first hard frost, and stay brown through the winter months are known as warm-season grasses. Your choice of grass species will affect how you mow and maintain your lawn. Selecting turfgrass.
3. Get your soil tested - If you have determined that you have cool season grass, fall is the optimal time to fertilize. A soil test can let you know what nutrients are missing from you lawn which will allow you to apply the proper amount of lime and fertilizer, minimizing the water polluting nutrient runoff which can be caused by overfertilization.  
4. Use proper fertilizer - If you decide you need to apply fertilizer, choose one that contains at least 30 percent slow-release nitrogen. Also, check the three numbers on the front of the bag to select the right mixture for your lawn's current needs, as determined by the soil test. The numbers represent the fertilizer's nitrogen (first number), phosphorus (second number) and potassium (third number). Using high nitrogen fertilizer on a lawn that does not need it is a waste of money and will eventually be washed away by storm water if not used by the plant.
5. Seed to fill in bald spots - Fall is a good time to plant cool-season grasses such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass. Laying down sod is also good for this time of year, but sod is much more flexible in timing, so it can be done almost any time the soil is not frozen. To apply seed, first prepare the soil by breaking it up with an aerator or hard rake. After aeration, top-dress the lawn with 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick layer of organic matter. Then apply the seed. The seed should be misted once or twice a day (not heavily watered) until germination, especially in a dry fall. Don't allow autumn leaves to pile up and mat on seedling lawns.  
6. Keep it on the lawn - Whether you are fertilizing, seeding or just dealing with fallen leaves, make sure you keep them on the lawn and out of stormwater drains. Avoid fertilizer applications if weather forecasts call for heavy rainfall. And always take a few moments to sweep or blow any fertilizer that ends up on the street, sidewalk, or patio back into the turf. Any granular material on a hardscape is often only minutes away from entering our waterways during the next heavy rain.
For more information, visit the Virginia Cooperative Extension website and search on Fall Lawn Care


  1. Mike McGrath, of WHYY's "You Bet Your Garden" recommends no chemical fertilizer, but just spread some fine, screened compost over the lawn in the fall. I'm with you, Betsy: we have gotten rid of over half our lawn, converting it to gardens, and do nothing more to it than mow. We live in a watershed area and know that anything we dump on the lawn wold just end up in our wetlands, streams and rivers.

  2. I agree and think the fall time is the optimal time to aerate right before winter kicks in. I like to overseed at the same time and hit two birds with one stone..
    I believe that some seeds fall into the holes in the ground and don't get washed away even if it rains heavily.
    Here's a youtube video I posted of the aerator that I built from stuff laying around in my garage. I think it works pretty nicely considering I probably only invested about $21 in making it.

  3. I love that! I'm a big fan of putting things together with duct tape and baling wire. ;-)


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