Fall lawn care tips

Horticulture Hints

Summer has flown by all too soon. Although other gardening chores are now winding down, fall is time to focus on caring for your lawn, to help maintain healthy growth for next spring.

During fall, as grass is still actively growing, it is important to continue mowing to prevent turf from being too tall in the spring once snow melts. Adjust mowers to remove no more than one third of turf, which helps prevent susceptibility to spring lawn disease, such as snow mold. Do not mow lawns too short, as a reduction of leaf blade needed for food production forces energy from away from root reserves needed for new spring growth.

Once done cutting grass for the season, get your mower ready for winter. Clean mower deck of residue and sharpen blade to prevent tearing, splitting, or shredding of grass tips, which can cause a browning to lawn surface.

Be sure to rake up tree leaves, as if not removed by next spring, overwintering leaves can become matted and smother the grass. Rather than disposal or burning of leaves, add them to the compost pile to recycle nutrients back into the soil or apply as winter protection to flower beds.

Fall applications for perennial broadleaf weed control may be made, be sure to read and follow the label directions. Most of these products contain a mix of two or three of the following chemicals: 2,4-D, dicamba, MCPP, and triclopyr. Broadleaf herbicides applied in fall are most effective, as weeds are now actively moving energy resources to their roots, thus chemicals applied are also moved to the roots.

For additional lawn information, check out the ISU publication “Fall Tips to Ensure a Healthy Green Yard in the Spring”, available at: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/14284 to download.

Did you know? Fall is a great time of year to have your lawn nutrient and pH levels tested to determine whether a supplemental fertilizer application other than nitrogen may be needed. As fall growing conditions are ideal for grasses, lawns will respond quickly to additional nutrient applications made as recommended by a soil test. For best results, it is a good idea have your lawn soil tested every three years.

Questions? Contact McCormick at yvonne@iastate.edu for information or advice.