Although the end of summer may elicit a sigh of relief when it comes to lawn care, keeping the perfect yard just isn’t that simple. Follow this guide if you want a great lawn, you can save yourself trouble when the next summer season comes around by putting in some work in the fall..
This article collects a series of critical approaches to optimize your autumn lawn maintenance. Each of these categories tackles a different area of lawn management, but they can all prove incredibly helpful when your grass needs a little kick to keep up growth. If you master these techniques, not only will your lawn stay even and covered throughout the colder seasons, but your friends and neighbors will also be in awe when spring does come.
Mow high in the Spring, Summer but low in the Fall.
Not surprisingly, mowing is a critical part of lawn maintenance even once the summer ends. An important change you’ll want to make once the leaves begin to fall is lowering the blade height of your mower. The heat of the summer sun means that your grass needs a little extra height to trap moisture and keep the soil from drying out and becoming infertile. As the weather starts to cool down, however, the soil won’t need this defensive barrier, and the seasonal advantages of a trimmer lawn start to take over.
Trapping moisture during the fall and winter can actually lead to unhealthy fungus that will threaten the health of your lawn. Fallen leaves can also prove to be more of an inconvenience and decompose slower with longer grass. Most likely, you’ll want to lower the blades on your mower around a notch or two, or about an inch height. Every strain of grass is different, however, so looking up the exact optimal height for your Bermuda or Zoysia can help you treat your lawn even better.
Falling leaves can provide a great excuse to knock out two important tasks in one. By taking a rake to your yard and cleaning up some of the leaves piling up on your grass, you can perform some dethatching in the process. This will help with anything blocking nutrients from reaching the roots of your soil. Although a regular leaf rake will do in a pinch, you can also upgrade to a proper thatch rake, which will treat your lawn properly without losing any efficacy in leaf clean-up.
Pro Tip: Talk with your neighbors and split the cost of renting a professional dethatching machine. This cuts the price in half or in thirds. Our neighborhood does this every year and it saves $$$ when you have to dethatch, aerate in the Fall with multiple machines.
Hand-in-hand with dethatching comes aerating, or directly puncturing your soil to assist with nutrient transfer. It may not always be necessary in the fall, but it’s still an option to consider if your soil has become tightly packed from your pets or children playing on your lawn. Aerating will require more specifically tailored equipment than the raking needed for dethatching.
The simplest of these are spike aerators, which just act as spikes pressing into the soil. A mid-tier option is a slicing aerator, which uses rotating blades. Check our our Lawn Maintenance in Fall for more tips on improving your lawn!. Don’t feel that you need a core aerator if your lawn hasn’t taken any real beating, or you live in an area without clay dirt, but it’s still a premium option to have on the table.
Fertilizing your lawn before it freezes for the winter can prove a significant help to your grass in the long run. Applying fertilizer when the first frost is happening will not only help your lawn throughout the winter season, but can maintain and enhance its growth the following spring—particularly in colder northern environments where the winter proves a particular threat. Opt for effective nitrogen fertilizer, like safe and slow-release natural options such as Milorganite.
Oversee in the Fall to thicken your lawn. Of course, even diligent application of all the above practices can’t always save patches that become fully bare. When the lushness of your lawn is interrupted by displeasing problem spots, it’s time for you to seed the parts of your lawn that need it. You should want until after mowing and potentially dethatching or aerating to tackle the actual task of seeding. This way, it will be much easier for the seeds to germinate in loosened and accessible soil.
After spreading it evenly—around a cup of mixture for every square foot—watering will subsequently be necessary until the patches recover. Re-seeding can be more difficult in the fall than in the spring, but it nonetheless can be an imperative emergency repair that simply can’t wait.
Dealing with Insects
Although summer may be the rifest with annoying pests like mosquitoes, fall brings with it a whole new slew of insects that may threaten your lawn. If you have to re-seed any patches like mentioned above, you should examine the spots and do some research to determine if any particular bug could be the culprit.
Kill them all! Talstar P is the best economical insecticide that I have ever used. It works on ticks, mosquitoes, lawn insects, bees, ants, ticks, spiders, roaches/water bugs,
Talstar Professional is a great general insecticide. It is widely used by Professional Pest Control companies because it is broad spectrum and has long, residual strength. It lasts 3+ months. It doesn’t wash away like some other spray insecticides. Safety: It is safe for pets and people once it dries. It is a good idea to apply it when your kids won’t be running through the yard.
Grubs & Ants
Grubs destroy your lawn. It is best to kill them in the Fall with grub insecticide. Starting in August, apply the recommended setting on your spreader and apply the killing agent to your lawn.
Dylox 6.2 G. Chemical Action and Usages: Dylox is an organophosphate insecticide in a granular form for use on lawns to control mole crickets, sod webworms, cutworms, grubs and other listed insects in turf. Active ingredient is trichlorfon, which acts as a contact poison.
It works: I’ve tried many different kinds of grub killers over the past 5 years but, this last year, bioadvanced has really worked. I tried Grub-EX in the past but it didn’t kill all the grubs and when the Spring came along, the moles came back. You can get it here on Amazon.
Some of the basic maintenance approaches like de-thatching can take care of insects, but if the problem persists you may need to turn to specific insecticide options, whether homegrown or professional. Just make sure you don’t use anything that will have adverse effects on the growth of your grass.
Maintaining Your Lawnmower
It’s important that your lawnmower stays in full working order throughout every season. Fall, however, is a particularly great time to perform maintenance, as you can check out any wear and tear caused over the summer while other aspects of lawn care might be winding down. Being proactive about equipment care may take a little effort, but it can save you significantly more money and time in the long run.
Pro Tip: If you don’t perform your lawnmower maintenance in the Fall, you can harm your engine and lawnmower over the Winter. So when you start it up in the Spring, it may need a lot of work.
- Check the oil and the spark plug. With enough use, oil and spark plugs will inevitably need to be changed. You should check the condition even more frequently if you’ve been recently using your mower in any kind of rough weather or terrain.
- Change the Blade
- Check the belt to ensure it is not deteriorating Check the wheels. A lot of people forget this step and don’t have traction on their wheels when they are trying to go up hill the next Spring. If there is little wheel tread then you should replace the drive wheels. Check your owner’s manual for the specific size.
- Check the pull string so it is tight and not frayed
- Check the underside of the mower
- Scrub the mower’s underside using a wire brush to remove debris
- Check the Air Filter. Just like your car, your lawn mower needs a clear air filter to breath and run properly.
- Add fuel stabilizer. Don’t miss this step. You need a good fuel stabilizer so the gas in the tank doesn’t break down over the Winter and harm your engine. This is only a few bucks at your local hardware store.
Although these are fairly simple tasks, you should always check your manual and the specifications of your lawnmower both for replacement specifications and procedure to make sure that you and your lawnmower are both safe in the repair process.
Larger parts that could have suffered wear over time are the blade and the belt. You’ll definitely know you need a new blade if you’re having trouble patches not from poor growth but from spots that your mower is oddly missing. Decreased efficacy in general can also be caused by a worn belt that can’t keep up the necessary speed for the blade. In either case, you should be careful in the replacement process, using only manufacturer-approved parts and blocking the blade in place before removal to make sure it doesn’t shift unfortunately.
Ultimately, all of the above steps are a framework for you to apply as your lawn needs it. Not every yard is the same, and varying climates and experiences can make different aspects of lawn care priorities. But by taking these tips as a guide, you can make sure that whatever your grass throws at you this autumn, you can take care of it.
Use a breaker bar, attach it to your wrench and turn it counterclockwise (to the left). The bolt should loosen up without too much force with the breaker bar. Make sure to secure the blade and wear gloves so you don’t cut your hand. I show you all the steps to quickly and safely remove your lawn mower blade bolt, change the blade and have a great looking lawn.
Use a manual edger if you are just starting out to cut the grass back to the sidewalk or flower bed that you are using as your guide. You will likely have to remove the overgrown excess grass so have a bucket or wheelbarrow handy. More advanced users should use an edger specifically made for edging. This will get you better results than just using a weed wacker.