Most homeowners assume that at the end of the summer, their grass care duties are over. Nothing could be more wrong. The truth is, fall is the time when your lawn needs you the most. That’s the best time to get it ready for spring. Follow these five steps and you’ll have the healthiest lawn you’ve ever had next spring when things start greening up again.
If it’s been a dry fall, make sure the soil is moist going into winter. It’s very stressful for the root system to go for months in bone-dry soil. Even when it’s cool, the soil is still losing moisture to the atmosphere, just not as quickly as it does when it’s hot.
Don’t leave dead leaves on your lawn. They’ll only promote mold and smother the grass when it’s trying to get started next spring. Plus, it’s much easier to rake them up in the fall when they’re dry.
If you have heavy soil, fall is the time to aerate. Do it when the soil is moist and before you fertilize. Aerating loosens the soil, which allows roots to spread and oxygen to penetrate.
Even though the lawn is beginning to turn brown, the roots are hard at work storing nutrients for the winter and the following growing year. Fall is the single most important time to fertilize.
For the last cutting of the season, set your mower to about 1-1/2 in. and cut the grass short. That will help prevent snow mold in your yard.
— Travis Larson, Senior Editor
Winterizing a Sprinkler System
You can pay the irrigation company $125 every year to blow out your sprinkler system, or you can use your air compressor and do it yourself. You just have to be careful not to leave any water in the line or it might freeze over the winter and burst a pipe. Also be aware that even the largest home compressor isn’t powerful enough to blow out the entire system at once, so you’ll probably have to blow it out zone by zone.
If you’re into number-crunching and you have the original irrigation layout showing the gallons per minute (gpm) of each sprinkler head, just divide the total gpm of each zone by 7.5. That’ll give you the cubic feet per minute (cfm) your compressor needs to blow out the zone. Otherwise, just rent a 10-cfm compressor and hose from your local tool rental center.
Set the compressor air-pressure regulator to a maximum of 80 psi for rigid PVC pipe systems, or 50 psi for flexible black polyethylene pipe. Then turn off the water supply and set the system timer to open just one zone. Next, open the manual drain valve at the end of that zone (if equipped).
Close off both valves on the backflow preventer. Then remove the plug on the blow-out port and screw in a quick-connect hose adapter. Snap on the air hose and connect the other end to the compressor (see photo). Then blow out the line. The heads should pop up and spit out water. Disconnect the hose as soon as they run dry.
Don’t overdo the blow-out — without water cooling the plastic gears, they can melt in less than a minute. So move on to the next zone and allow the heads to cool. Then, go back and blow out each zone a second time. Plus: Learn how to install an irrigation system yourself.
Reseed Late in the Growing Season
Reseed in the late summer/early fall. Whether you’re seeding a small patch or a whole yard, you’re going to be much more successful if you wait for the cooler, damper weather of late summer or early fall. It’s almost impossible to get seed to survive during the dog days of summer. It’s simply too hot and dry. You’ll most likely just waste your time and expensive seed.
More tips on achieving the perfect lawn:
How to Eliminate Weeds From Your Grass
How to Grow Greener Grass
Lawn Care: How to Repair a Lawn
Plus: Check out the fall landscaping tools you need in the video below:
How to Restore Furniture
Learn how to refinish furniture faster and easier by avoiding stripping. A seasoned pro tells you how to clean, repair and restore old worn finishes without messy chemical strippers. Furniture refinishing will be easier from here on out!
The Family Handyman
Can’t Find Canned Pumpkin? Here’s How to Make Your Own Until Shelves Are Restocked
Don’t worry, canned pumpkin is on the way. Here’s when to expect it and how to make it yourself if you just can’t wait.
Better Homes and Gardens
How to Care for Mums For Plenty of Fall Color
Keep your yard dazzling this fall with mums in vivid reds, golds, and yellows. Here are some tips for growing them:.To maximize bloom time, buy mums just as they start to break bud.Mums you purchase from garden centers are likely to be root bound. You will need to repot them, and give them room to breathe.Whether they are in a pot or a bed, you want to choose a spot that gets at least 4 hours of direct sunlight every day.Keep the soil moist, but not wet, and fertilizing is not necessary. Remove spent blooms to encourage more buds to open.After a few hard frosts the foliage on your mums will begin to brown, and you will need to move them inside for the winter.Group colorful mums in pots on your front porch, put them in your garden, or have some fun and create designs