Fall is the absolute best time to make improvements to your lawn. The typical cooler weather and increased moisture are ideal for turf growth plus there is less weed competition than in the spring.
The first step is to analyze your lawn’s current state. Is the turf dense or has it developed thin areas over time? Does the lawn have weeds or unwanted grasses? Is it level or does it have high spots and low spots? Before undergoing any lawn maintenance efforts, it is important to diagnose the problem areas correctly so you can develop an effective game plan to fix them.
My lawn is in pretty good shape. What should I do this fall to maintain it?
If your lawn is already in decent condition then a Fall Lawn Aeration followed by a Fertilizer Application would be good routine maintenance. If your lawn has some weeds, know that the best time to kill weeds is in the fall. An application of weed control now will mean fewer weeds in the spring.
What should I do if my lawn is in pretty good shape overall, but just has a few thin spots?
If your lawn has intermittent thin areas, it would benefit from reseeding. Generally speaking, thin or bare areas in the lawn that are less than 6” diameter will fill in on their own but bare spots larger than that should be reseeded. If the thin spots are few and far between, Spot or Hand Seeding would be a good way to go. Use a hand rake to vigorously break the soil crust prior to reseeding. You should have a minimum of 2” of loose soil before reseeding but 3-4” would be even better. Sowing seed onto the hard packed ground will be a waste of your time because very little if any of the seed that you spread will germinate.
My lawn has a lot of dead areas. What should I do?
If the entire lawn or substantial parts of it are thin, then Slice Seeding would be the best way to go. Slice Seeders have a row of vertical blades that cut grooves into the soil and then behind each blade is a tube that drops seed into the grooves. The germination rate of grass seed increases with improved seed/ soil contact and Slice Seeding typically yields up to 90% germination.
What should I do if my lawn has a lot of strange grasses?
If your lawn has a lot of undesirable grasses such as tall fescue, fine fescue or zoysia, you will want to mow those areas short and then spray them with Roundup. Roundup is a non-selective herbicide that will kill what it hits so be careful. Roundup translocates to the roots of the grasses and is a great product to use to eliminate unwanted vegetation. One of the big features of Roundup is that it does not leach in the soil the way some other herbicides can. In addition, it is safe to reseed the areas where Roundup was applied just one week after the application.
How should I correct my lawn if it is not level or has holes in it?
There is no better time to correct an uneven lawn than when you are already planning to do Lawn Maintenance work. If there are just a few holes or settled utility lines that you want to fill in, do so with Pulverized Topsoil. Add the soil, rake the area to level, reseed it, apply Starter Fertilizer and cover it with Straw or Penn Mulch. Do not try to save money by using Topsoil that has not been Pulverized. You will pay with the extra labor that it takes to till and rake the soil down.
What is Penn Mulch?
In the past, it was standard operating procedure to cover seeded lawns with straw. The purpose was to help protect the seed and keep it moist until it germinated. The downside is that Straw has a tendency to blow around and make a mess. Penn Mulch is a Product that serves the same function as Straw but doesn’t blow around or make a mess. It is made from recycled newspapers and looks like rabbit pellets when first applied but with moisture it spreads out.
Consult a Professional
When diagnosing lawn problems and determining the best lawn maintenance actions to take, there are many options to consider; so it would be wise to consult with a Lawn Care Specialist. An experienced Specialist will be able to spot any problem areas and help you make the best lawn maintenance decisions to improve your lawn.