Master Gardener: Fescue lawn care tips for fall | Features

Shaniqua Juliano

Most turf compaction is in the top 3-inches of soil with the top 1-inch the worst!  The remedy is to remove soil cores that are approximately one-half inch in diameter and 3-inches long.  This practice is called aerating, aerifying, or coring.  Aeration restores the balance of air and water in the soil, which are needed for healthy roots. 

For small lawns, a hand aerifier, consisting of hollow tubes on a stirrup pushed in the soil by foot, is sufficient.  For large or extremely compacted lawns, a machine-driven aerifier can be rented, or the aerification can be performed by a lawn maintenance company.  You will need to water the area and wait until the moisture drains sufficiently, so you can punch the aerator into the soil and have the cores stay intact upon removal.  Aerate first, then re-seed.

3)  Determine your Weed Control Plan.  If you have lots of spurge, oxalis, and other broadleaf weeds present in your lawn, you should consider using a postemergent herbicide for broadleaf weeds at this time.  There are many good products on the store shelves.  If you only have a few weeds, then spend a few moments and hand pull them before they flower and seed.  

If your lawn is thick and you do not plan to re-seed any areas then you may wish to apply a preemergent herbicide for winter weed control.  Now is the best time for products like Scott’s Halts (pendimethalin), Amaze (benefin and oryzalin), Dimension (dithiopyr), Weed Impede (oryzalin), and a few others to prevent winter grass and broadleaf weeds from sprouting in your lawn.  Be aware that these materials will also prevent desirable lawn seed from germinating and emerging for about three months.  That is why you must decide if you are adding more grass seed to your lawn or not before considering a preemergent.

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