HOUSE & HOME: Fall Yard Tips

Falling temperatures and shorter days don't mean you can retire from lawn care for the year.  In fact, the fall season is a critical time to nourish lawns and care for plants so they can survive winter and emerge even more vibrant when next spring arrives.

                                                                               

~FERTILIZE~ Your lawn may not look like it's doing much above ground during the cool months, but below, ground root systems continue to grow.  That's why most lawn care professionals recommend fertilizing once or twice in the fall.  Grass will store and use the extra boost of nutrients throughout winter.  Fertilizers high in nitrogen are ideal for fall feedings.

~SWEEP~ Leaves and other foliage left on the ground can rot and deprive grass and other plans of moisture and sunlight.  If you dread raking, a rechargeable battery powered blower/vac is the ideal tool.  Some can vacuums blow up to 185 mph and can vacuum up to four bags of leaves on a single charge.

~WATER~ Watering during fall is important to foster root growth and give plants a healthy drink before winter arrives.  If you're not experiencing at least one inch of rainfall a week, supplement with a sprinkler.  Continue the same eco-friendly watering strategies you used throughout the summer, such as watering in the mornings to reduce evaporation.

~SEED~ Have a few sparse areas in your yard?  Fall is a great season for grass seed to germinate due to the cool, moist weather.  Plus, because most seasonal birds have left, the seed is less vulnerable to being eaten.  Over-seeding now not only fills in open areas, but it increases grass density to help prevent weeds next year.  Loosen and prepare the soil, choose a high quality grass seed and water the area well so seeds reach maturity before winter.

~TRIM~ Fall is a good time to trim trees and shrubbery before the harsh weather of winter hits. 

~AERATE~ Aerating your lawn in the fall helps to open compacted soil and break down thatch that built up over the summer.  The small soil plugs removed by the aerator loosen the ground so oxygen and water can better reach the grass roots.  Aerators are available for rent at most rental stores and the job can typically be done in a few hours, depending on yard size.

~MOW~ As the weather cools, grass slowly goes dormant.  Before winter hits, continue to mow as needed.  When your lawn seems to have almost completely slowed its growth rate, mow one final time for the year, but set your mower at a higher height.  This helps keep grass healty until warm weather returns.  Recommended mower heights for a final mow are 2 to 2.5 inches.