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Preparing Your Lawn and Garden for Fall in North

Fall lawn care in a wintery cold, northern climate requires more work to keep your grass looking its best during spring and summer. You can prevent excessive winter damage by following tips for fall lawn care in Zones 4 through 6 (per the U.S. Department of Agriculture). You’ll be glad you took the time during fall when spring rolls around.Fall garden cleaning

Fall lawn tips

Common grasses used in northern climate lawns are tall fescue, fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass or a mixture. Each type has its strength and weakness. You’ll often notice that lawns with a mix of grasses (cool season and warm season) turn brown/green in the fall because one type of grass is going dormant. You can avoid this happening by choosing an appropriate grass mix for your specific area.

If you aren’t sure what type of grass(es) make up your lawn, take samples to your local garden center, where they can advise you. Then follow the steps below, and your efforts will be rewarded in the spring.


If your lawn is used heavily during the hot temperatures of summer, your grass is stressed. When you aerate as a part of your fall lawn care, you allow turf roots to get more air, nutrients and moisture. This process also reduces thatch problems and encourages good drainage.


In most northern climates, overseeding should occur in late fall (6 to 8 weeks before the first hard freeze) in order to renew the grass. Even if your area gets a lot of snow, the seeds will remain dormant underground and will germinate in the spring as the snow melts and provides water to the root system. Avoid a two-tone lawn by heavily overseeding with a cool-season grass, instead of mixing in a warm-season grass such as Bermuda.


Fertilization is another important step for fall lawn care in the North. Choose a fertilizer withPreparing Your Lawn and Garden for Fall in North a high phosphorus and potassium content and use it after the first light frost but before a heavy freeze. These nutrients are important to develop a strong root system well into winter. From mid-September until the first snowfall, avoid any fertilizer with high nitrogen content. If you do, you’ll promote new growth that is usually damaged by a late fall freeze.

Rake or blow leaves

When large leaves get wet and lay for long periods of time on top of your grass, they will suffocate it. Get into the habit or regularly raking or blowing away leaves from your lawn. If you have a mulching mower, that’s an even better option as the leaves will shred into fine pieces of beneficial organic mulch for your lawn.

Control weeds

Weeds, such as dandelions, begin to germinate during fall. Apply a weed control product as a part of fall lawn care and you’ll see fewer weeds in the spring.


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  1. I asked a question 7 days ago and have not got the "72 hour response" from your experts as stated.
    So I'll try again. Is de-thatching recommended. If so, what time of the year is best to do it?

    Thank you.......Stan Murrey

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