A little extra effort on your lawn in the fall — think about all the time you won’t be spending mowing, trimming and weeding in the winter — can save you a lot of extra effort in the spring.
DO: Feed It!
For those living in cooler climates, where most lawns are “cool-season” grasses, properly feeding your lawn during the fall months is more important than during any other time of the year, as cool-season grasses are most active during this season
In an article on MSN Real Estate, Bob Mugaas, a horticulture expert, recommends fertilizing twice: first with a higher-nitrogen “feeding” early in the season, and then a high-phosphorous feeding towards the end of season. If you are unsure about the needs of the soil in your area, a soil test can give you the answers.
For warm-season lawns, Denny Schrock of Better Homes and Gardens recommends overseeding with ryegrass in the fall for a lush lawn in the cooler wintertime. Seed right over your freshly (and shorter) mowed lawn in a cross-hatch pattern.
DON’T: Cut It!
As you rake and neaten and de-thatch, it may be irresistible to prune as well. Resist the urge. Most experts, such as Mike McGrath, host You Bet Your Garden agree that because pruning promotes growth, cutting plants, trees or shrubs back just before they begin going dormant for the winter only weakens the plants. Best time to prune? Late winter or early spring.
Aeration provides multiple benefits to your lawn — helping to minimize thatch, improving drainage and irrigation, and loosening the soil. Lisa Kaplan Gordon, managing editor of HouseLogic.com, notes that aeration facilitates getting water, oxygen and nutrients to where they are needed (the root system) and allows seeds room to sprout and grow. Depending on the size of your lawn, a hand-aerator tool might be fine. If hand-aerating your lawn seems daunting, power aerators can be rented by the hour.
For more autumn lawn preparation tips, try these resources:
Fall Lawn Care: 4 Ways to Say G’Night For The Winter (HouseLogic.com)
Preparing Your Lawn for Winter (Buckeye Gardening)
14 winter-prep tips for your lawn and garden (MSN Real Estate)
Fall Lawn-Care Secrets (Better Homes & Gardens)
Prepare your yard and garden for winter (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fall Pruning: Don’t Do It! (Rodale)