Fall is the best time of year to fertilize your lawn and control weeds. In fact, healthy lawns help area lakes and streams. Thick grass prevents soil erosion and absorbs rainwater. By soaking up rainwater, lawns decrease the amount of stormwater runoff funneling pollutants into lakes and streams. The Kentucky Division of Water offers some tips on getting your lawn “eco-ready” for the coming months.
How to Keep Your Lawn Healthy in the Fall
- Mow. Mow your grass at a height of 2½ to 3 inches.
- Water.Even though it is cooler in the fall, lawns still need regular watering to maintain plant health and better survive winter conditions. Water until the ground begins to freeze.
- Fertilize. Mid-to-late October is the best time of year to fertilize your lawn. Fertilizer provides grass with nutrients for spring growth. Use zero phosphorous lawn fertilizer unless you are establishing a new lawn or you have a soil test that indicates additional phosphorus is needed. Look for a middle number of “0” for NPK on the fertilizer package. Water your lawn for one to two hours after fertilizer application.
- Control Weeds.September is the best time of year to treat dandelions, plantain, clover and creeping charlie. Limited numbers of weeds should be removed by hand or spot-treated with herbicide.
- Make repairs. Fall or winter is the best time for irrigation system design or repair since land care professionals are often less busy and rates may be more affordable. Also, consider reusing water with rain barrels to retain rainwater for later use in the garden.
- Aerate. Aeration allows the roots to go deeper into the soil, more absorption of rainfall or irrigation, and the plants to better draw in water, nutrients and oxygen.
- Sweep Up. Sweep up and reuse lawn care products that fall on streets, sidewalk and driveways.
How to Recycle Your Leaves
- Compost.Composting recycles nutrients and helps keep leaves out of streets and storm sewers.
- Mulch.You can use leaves, whole or shredded by a power mower, as winter or spring mulch.
- Mow.If you have less than 2 inches of leaves covering your lawn, you can leave them in place and make several passes over them with a power mower. By shredding them into a fine, thin layer, you will provide your grass with valuable nutrients and end up with a lawn that looks like it was just raked. Gradually reduce mowing height to 2 inches to prevent winter turf damage.
- Bag.Rake and bag your leaves for pickup by city crews. Some towns compost bagged leaves.