The Perfect Fall Lawn

The hot, dry summer has probably left your lawn needing a little extra TLC. Now that cooler temperatures are here, take advantage of the full fall days to help your lawn look and feel its best.

Although turf grasses are often dormant above ground in the fall, their roots continue to grow beneath the ground. The dry autumn weather weakens the turf grass and makes it susceptible to damage from cold weather, so a little preventive maintenance will go a long way toward a healthy lawn year round. Fescue is one of the most common grass turfs, in both warm and cold climates. In warm climates, it is often used in back yards (front yards tend to be sodded with Bermuda grass) because it remains green year-round. One of the advantages of using your back deck in cooler weather is the eye appeal of dark green fescue. Use the following items as a rough guide to a healthy, beautiful fescue lawn.

Fall is a good time to restore your lawn to its best condition by re-seeding or over-seeding. But first you might want to check for proper soil pH and other plant nutrients. Your county extension office will usually do this for a small fee. If your fescue lawn has not been aerated the past two or three years, aerate it this year for optimum results. Be sure you aerate with a core aerator before seeding. Put down good quality seed, and after the seed has established itself, make certain the lawn receives adequate water. This is especially important because fescue doesn’t tolerate dry conditions or drought very well. If you apply enough water to soak the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, that should be adequate. That is roughly the same as one inch of rain.

You will want to spray a selective broadleaf herbicide on your fescue lawn to remove weeds. Apply fertilizer, usually in the application 16-4-8 of fertilizer for every 1000 square feet during the autumn. Later, in November, apply fertilizer which has a high potassium content.

If you have Bermuda, centipede, or zoysia (the warm season turfs which usually tolerate hot, dry summers), you may not need to give your lawn too much extra attention. Usually by the end of September the final application of fertilizer should have been put down. If you do it much later than that, it will delay the turf from going into dormancy, and that could make the grass more vulnerable to injury from cold.

Allow your warm season grasses to go dormant in the coming weeks by cutting back on mowing. Raise the mower height half an inch, and mow only one or two times more before winter. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide by the end of September to control winter weeds.

Not too complicated, really, And not too time-consuming, either. In a nutshell, you want to restore fescue lawns, and you want to prepare warm season turf to go dormant. As always, follow all safety precautions and follow all label directions when using any type of lawn care chemicals.