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Countdown to Winter: Checklist for Fall Lawn

We stress this year after year– fall is not the time to let your lawn go to the wayside. If there’s any time of year to be ramping up the lawn TLC, it’s now.

Here is a comprehensive checklist of things you need to do for your lawn as fall is well underway. By marking these items off your to-do list, you’ll set your yard up for success in the spring.

Because Tennessee has many lawns that fall under cool-season and lawns that fall under warm-season grass, we’ve divided the checklist into both! Make sure you know what type of grass is in your lawn before completing your tasks.

Checklist for Lawns with Cool-Season Grasses

Lawns that should abide by this checklist include those with Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescues.

Feeding and Nutrition

Cool-season grasses benefit from fertilizing about six weeks before the first anticipated frost. A fertilizer with a high nitrogen content helps lawns establish strong roots and survive through the winter.

Overseed, if needed

Fall conditions are ideal for seeding cool-season grasses. Overseeding thin lawns will help promote thick, green, spring grass. Seeding should take place well before the first frost so that roots have time to establish before a freeze.

Continue Watering

Actively growing cool-season grass still needs water to promote healthy growth. However, homeowners can stretch out watering and let rainfall help during the fall.

Keep Mowing

Continue a consistent mowing schedule for your type of grass, with some amendments. This schedule should revolve around your grass’s growth and not a certain number of days. Gradually decrease the height of your lawn up to the last mow of the season.

Checklist for Lawns with Warm-Season Grasses

The cool weather of fall indicates that the peak season for warm-season grass has passed. These include bermudagrass, zoysia, and some others.

Stop Fertilizing

Your last lawn feeding should be a good six to eight weeks before the first frost. Later fertilizing can interfere with the natural dormancy of warm-season grasses and compromise your lawn’s health.

Overseed (for color)

Though it seems counter-intuitive, now is the time that you could introduce a cool-season grass to your lawn. Avoid a brown, dormant lawn by overseeding with a grass that will stay green during the winter. Overseed only for this introduction. If you’re worried about a thinning grass, hold off until the spring when active growth will begin.

Skip Dethatching

Dethatching can help strengthen a lawn but is generally tough on warm-season grass this time of year. It is better to wait until the temperatures start to warm so that actively growing grass can bounce back quickly.

Rely on Rainfall

Once your grass has hit the end of its active growing phase, allow rainfall to do the dirty work for your watering. If you overseeded to introduce a cool-season grass, however, continue on a regular watering schedule.

Manage Your Weeds

Dormant warm-season grass is a prime target for cool-season weeds. Spot treat your lawn with a post-emergent herbicide for actively growing weeds.

Fall Checklist Items for All Lawns

These are tasks that are essential for any lawn, no matter the grass type.

Test Your Soil

Now is an appropriate time to get your soil back on track. Test your soil for the easiest management of your lawn’s pH and nutrition. Add lime or other soil amendments, as needed. Fall applications allow your soil to prepare before spring.

Remove Leaves

We stress this topic every single year. Fall leaves are beautiful and fun to play in, but they can provide significant setbacks when trying to establish a healthy lawn. Layers of leaves prevent oxygen, sunlight, and nutrients from reaching grass roots. Furthermore, they trap moisture underneath which becomes an invitation for mold and other lawn diseases.

There is no one-size-fits-all lawn care method. It is essential to know your lawn, your area’s climate, and yourself. If you’re overwhelmed by the TLC your lawn needs, then give us a call. Pure Green would be happy to take over!