Score a great yard in the Fall!
1. Snatch the Thatch Thatch, a mat of yellowish dead grass that can block air and moisture, needs to be removed. If you slacked on the dethatching in spring, now is the time, but don’t go at it too aggressively. If you set the tines too deep on a power rake, you can destroy the lawn. You’re better off making three or four shallow passes, in which you increase the depth of the tines, than going too deep in one pass. Likewise, use small flags to mark sprinkler heads to avoid collateral damage. Don’t rent a dirty dethatcher. It’s always a bad sign when rental equipment is beat up and dirty, but more so if it’s lawn gear. Dirt and debris from a previous customer can spread disease and weed seed from the rental machine to your lawn. Choose your rental center carefully. Look for clean, wellmaintained equipment.
2. Go to Seed True lawn lovers know that early fall is the season to reboot. If you need to reseed, we advise using proprietary turfgrass seed, available at nurseries, on the Web, and from landscapesupply houses. Turfgrass breeders constantly improve their seed, and many produce specific regional types. While this seed is more expensive than what’s sold at home centers, it’s also more vigorous. We quote the old adage that a cheap tool is an expensive tool. You might pay a few dollars more for a proprietary seed, but the results are tremendous, and you don’t have to keep constantly reseeding. To seed a bare area, se till the soil, apply the seed, and then cover it with a thin layer of lightweight, compostsoil/peatmoss blend. Then se keep it moist. Once the seeds get dry, they’re dry for good.
3. Turn Over a Leaf Remove leaves‚ they block sunlight just when grass needs as much light as possible for photosynthesis and root growth. Grass should go from vigorous growth into winter, not enter it weak and underfed. Even when the lawn is dormant, it needs to eat. You’ve run the race all summer, now don’t fall at the last hurdle. Put the lawn to bed with winterizer (or stage 4 fertilizer) sold at any bigbox store. The potash in it promotes root stability, coldweather hardiness, and disease resistance, so you get great results come spring. The lawn greens up much quicker.
4. Pick Up Sticks Autumn would be easier if leaves were all that fell, but it’s also the season of seedpods, branches, nutshells, husks, and rotten, unpicked fruit that has fallen out of the trees. Careful tree pruning can reduce the problem but not eliminate it. You’re going to need something more powerful than your handheld leaf blower to deal with this bulky, prickly mess. Backpack and walkbehind leaf blowers are far better than handheld blowers for moving difficult debris off the lawn or at least into piles that can be gathered. If you can afford it, consider a proquality lawn vacuum (typically $900 to $1500).
Follow these tips, and you will have the winningest lawn on the block!