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Fall Lawn Mowing and Watering Tips
Don’t limit your fall lawn care to raking leaves. The attention you give your grass before the first frost will help it survive winter’s freezing temperatures and endure the high traffic demands of spring and summer.
Track the temperatures and watch the grass grow
Where you live dictates your fall lawn care schedule. During September when nighttime temperatures start dropping but the grass continues to grow, lower your mower blades to get a shorter cut. A height of 2 to 2-1/2 inches is recommended in most climates. Stop mowing all together in October or November when you notice the grass is no longer growing.
If you live where grass continues to grow throughout the winter months, mow less frequently than during the other seasons. Otherwise, you need not do much lawn care after the ground freezes except to avoid walking on frost-covered turf to prevent damage.
Water only as needed
Adjust your lawn watering schedule according to current rainfall. If you live up north where it snows frequently, the end of September or mid-October, when grass becomes dormant, marks the end of the need for watering.
In warmer and dryer climates, using a sprinkler system or a garden hose in compliance with local water restrictions can help keep slow-growing grass healthy. Lawns in more humid, sunny climates should not need watering more than once per week for about 20 minutes during the winter if rain has not been frequent.
Tend to your equipment
Keep lawn mower blades sharp. A dull blade won’t cut cleanly and can leave the tops of grass blades serrated and damaged. When that happens, the tips can turn brown and become gateways for organisms that cause lawn diseases. Problems caused by dull mower blades are particularly likely to occur during the fall when morning dew and more frequent rains leave grass wet.
Feed and fix the grass
During the fall, apply a fertilizer high in potassium. This ingredient encourages strong growth to help your grass endure the stresses of winter. Come spring, the grass needs more nitrogen. Also use the autumn months to put in turf patches and, a few weeks before the first freeze, reseed. This provides enough time for new grass to establish itself prior to the onset of winter.
- Diane Quinn