The lawn care year is about over and maybe you’re ready to be done with the yard for the year and throw the lawn mower in the shed, or maybe you just want a strong final push to get the lawn to winter and to get a head start on your spring yard care for next year. Regardless of your current standing or the status of your grass, there is something here for you. There is no end-all answer when it comes to lawn care in southern Utah, but the more TLC you give your grass, the better and healthier it will be. We have read many contradicting ideas online and in books, but the ideas the follow have been tested by us, using Cedar City lawns, through multiple years, to where we can confidently say, that these items are not arguable. If done properly, you will see improvements in the overall health of your turf grass now and come spring. You will also reduce the chances of developing problems during the winter such as snow mold or turf rot. These items will be presented in an easiest to hardest to perform order. The further you go down the list, the happier you’ll be come spring, and the thicker and healthier your lawn grass will be.
DO NOT Stop Watering Too Early
This takes basically no extra effort as you will have to shut your water off anyway. If grass goes dormant due to drought instead of going dormant due to cold temperatures it does not perform the same during fall/winter and will have a harder time come spring. Instead of turning your water off at the end of September, leave it on for another 3-4 weeks. You do not have to water as frequently nor for as long as you have been. But a good watering once a week or so will keep the soil moist and will let temperature dictate when the grass goes dormant. This will allow the roots to grow and prepare for winter instead of manually turning them off early. Lows below 32 degrees do not necessarily mean the water needs to be off. Pipes are buried and it takes colder temperatures for longer time to freeze pipes.
Begin Lowering Your Height of Cut (HOC)
Shorter grass does better over the winter. It is much more resistant to fungus, snow mold, and other rot problems. It is not healthy to cut too much length all at once, so the worst thing you could do is go from your current height of cut of 3.5” to 2” in one fell swoop. This will shock the grass and most likely send it into dormancy very ill prepared for winter. Begin in early September lowering your mowing deck a notch every other time you cut. This should lower your overall cut length by ¾”-1” over the course of 6 cuttings. This will actually help the grass to grow deeper and thicker roots, the best winter preparation for a plant. It will look nice, make it easy to mow up the leaves as they fall so you don’t have a massive leaf cleanup project, and come spring your grass will be greener faster, shorter, and healthier.
Fall Fertilizer Application
Spring often gets the glory as being the best season for preparing your lawn for a good year. While spring lawn care is important, we have seen that fall care or the lack there of, actually influences the coming year more than the spring care does. This has to do with root growth and development, and the fact that nutrition in the fall has time to integrate into the soil and is more evenly and readily available coming growing season than new nutrients thrown on the top that don’t have as even or
Eliminate any Current Problems such as Insects or Fungus
If you’ve been fighting some fungus or bugs (we often hear “grubs” but that’s generally not the creature responsible) fall is the time to kill it. You don’t even have to rehab the grass, just use a broad-spectrum insecticide and a fungicide (both of which can be found at Home Depot, Lowes, IFA, Cal Ranch, etc.). This will eliminate the problem so that when the spring growth hits the problem areas fill in thick and fast. If the problem is still present in the spring, the entire next year will be a battle.
Fall Lawn Aeration
If there was one time to aerate a lawn during the year, when would it be? Fall. Spring is next best. This step is going to be more labor intensive as we assume you don’t have a lawn aerator sitting around in the garage or shed. You’ll have to either hire this out or take the time to rent an aerating and put in the elbow grease. Aeration is great for improving the soil and helping the roots to grow thicker and deeper. It also aids in nutrient and water uptake. Lawn aeration loses or decreases soil compaction which will pay dividends in the fall and when spring arrives. To learn more about the details and benefits of lawn aeration, click here.
Don’t Let Leaves Accumulate
This may or may not be an issue depending on how many trees you have in or around your yard. If your yard looks like fall pictures from New England, you may want to hire out the project. If you don’t get too many leaves then just keep mowing them (they can even be mulched) and don’t allow your lawn to go into winter with any leaves on it.
Hopefully you’ve found an idea or two that you’re ready to apply. If not, it’s never too late to sign up for Everything Exterior’s Full-Service Landscape Maintenance Package. Please feel free to comment or reach out with any questions or concerns. Thanks for reading!