Have you started on your fall lawn maintenance tasks? As we near the end of October, this is a terrific time to check any fall to-do’s off your landscaping checklist. While you work to maintain your lawn this season, you’re bound to alleviate stressful situations that may arise when the spring season comes back into view.
Why is Fall Lawn Maintenance Important?
Autumn lawn care is necessary for several reasons. First, fertilizing your lawn in the fall can make it look better and healthier. It will also give your lawn nutrients to get it through the winter and promote healthy grass growth in the spring.
Meanwhile, compiled leaves in the yard can invite pests as well as diseases into your lawn. Too many leaves can also prevent the photosynthesis process, killing the turf and giving it an unhealthy appearance.
You’ll also want to remember the process of winterizing your garden beds. This way, you can protect your perennials while preventing diseases or pests.
Think of lawn fall maintenance as preventative action for the health of your lawn. With some pep in your step, take the following advice for preparing your lawn for the upcoming season.
1. Take Care of the Leaves & Turn it into Compost
There is mixed advice when it comes to raking leaves during the fall. Environmental experts advise against raking the leaves and instead of leaving them as they are. They caution you to take these steps to help micro ecosystems in your lawn and avoid filling up the landfill with trash bags.
While this is good advice, there is a happy medium to this approach. You don’t have to rake up your leaves into a trash bag destined for the landfills. What you can do instead is grind up the leaves and use it as compost for the spring season.
The better news is that composting leaves is easy. You’ll first need to separate your leaves into piles so they can decompose quickly. Aim for piles that are roughly 3x3x3 feet. This gives enough leaf material for a healthy compost without it being too large.
You’ll also want to place the leaves in a shady area with good airflow. You’ll need to temporarily maintain the pile so it can progress into compost. It should be moist and warm, but not saturated or hot. You can mix up the compost to encourage decomposition. After a week, the leaves should begin to break down.
From there, the compost will form for months to come. Even during the coldest months, the center of the leaf mile will remain warm and active if you continue to maintain it. Keep in mind that leaf compost can also repel weeds!
2. Continue to Water the Lawn (for Now)
Cooler temperatures doesn’t mean it’s time to discontinue watering your lawn. Even as the weather gets cooler, you can’t necessarily rely on mother nature to properly take care of your grass for you.
It’s true that there is more moisture in the fall and less evaporation. But the truth is that the increased rain might not be enough to keep the grass roots properly hydrated and healthy.
Your lawn should be getting around an inch of water a week. You can determine how much water your lawn is getting by using a rain gauge. If your lawn is not getting the adequate amount of recommended water per week, keep running the sprinklers through the end of October. Once that time arrives, it is time to disconnect the hoses and flush the irrigation system.
3. Winterize the Irrigation System
Speaking of flushing the irrigation system, another fall lawn maintenance step you want to take is winterizing the irrigation system. The idea of this process is to remove water that can otherwise freeze and damage your lawn simply put, winterizing the irrigation system is a step for your fall lawn maintenance plan that you don’t want to miss.
What does winterization for the irrigation system look like? You will want to take the following actions including:
- Shutting off the main water valve of the irrigation system. You will want to have this valve closed to prevent any water from entering in freezing
- Next, the water should be drained from the irrigation system. This is a critical step to further ensure that no water will remain inside the system
- Timers and clocks that open the valves should be shut off as well. The controller to the irrigation system needs to be completely shut down so it can release pressure from inside the system. Any pressure left inside the irrigation system can cause pipes to crack and break.
You will also want to winterize the irrigation system before the first freeze of the year. This typically happens in early November, so you will want to get to this step soon.
4. Raise the Mower Blade & Tend to Your Lawn Mower
Are you still cutting your grass? We applaud you! It’s important to keep cutting your grass, even during the autumn season. However, there is also a specific way to approach your lawn mowing during the fall months.
One of the key changes to make is raising your mower blade. You will want to raise the blades of a highlight of your lawn. The height of your lawn will depend on the type of grass.
For example, St. Augustine grass should be mowed at 2 to 3 in. Meanwhile, Bermuda grass is mowed at 1 to 2 in and sodded Bermuda is mowed at 1/2 to 1 ½ inches.
Once you are done mowing for the season. Remember that you will want to take the time to clean your mower. You will want to wipe out the undercarriage of the motor and sharpen the blade. Don’t forget to empty out the gas tank, especially when the mower is going to sit idle during the winter.
Other steps to take as you finish mowing for the season is removing the mower battery. Store the battery in a cool and dry place away from any gas cans. You will also want to store the lawn mower itself in a cool dry place, such as a garage or shed.
These steps will help your lawn mower last longer.
5. Fertilize Your Lawn
If you haven’t done it yet, now is the time to fertilize your lawn. This is typically done in September or October when we are nearing the end of the fall season and approaching the first frost.
Why is it important to fertilize your lawn in the fall? First, the intense summer heat of Georgia can be harsh on your lawn. Fall fertilizing will help your lawn recover while providing it with the energy it needs to grow healthy and green during the summer season.
The timing of fall fertilization is very important. It should be applied at least 2-3 weeks before the ground freezes. This ensures that your lawn will reap the full benefits while preventing potential winter damage.
6. Don’t Forego Fall Pest control
While it feels like a good time of year to be lax about lawn maintenance and pest control, this couldn’t be further from the case. You’ll want to keep on top of pest control efforts and take action now if you notice a problem.
Ignoring pest problems now can set you up for trouble in the spring. Some species of pests are quite equipped to survive the winter season, despite cold temperatures. But what are some of the common fall lawn pests that you may discover this season? You’ll find critters such as:
- Grubs, which are larvae of species such as beetles. They are C-shaped and look like irony worms with white bodies. If you have a grub problem, you might notice brown patches of dead turf that are an odd shape. You also might notice a spongy material around your grass roots.
- Ants, which are treated well in cool weather since they typically don’t like to come outside when it’s really hot. If your yard is infested with ants, rest assured they will find their way inside at some point. You may notice signs of an ant infestation including anthills in the yard and swarming ants when you drop food outside.
- Fleas, which aren’t only a summer problem. Fleas can be found in your yard all year long, looking to latch onto your pet and make your way inside your home. If you notice your pet is scratching a lot or small red bites on your pet (and even on yourself), you might have a flea problem at hand.
Meanwhile, spiders and other creepy crawlies can become prevalent in the fall as well. If you notice an uptick in insects, even those you can’t identify, it’s important to contact pest control for assistance.
Get Fall Lawn Maintenance Now
It’s not too late to get your fall lawn maintenance on track. Contact us now to get started with fall lawn maintenance or with any pest control questions you may have.