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Caring for Your Lawn in the Fall

 

We don’t call it “fall” for nothing. In Ohio, trees change color and start dropping their leaves anytime from mid-August through the end of November (and sometimes into December!). When fall shows its true colors, and before the snow flies, it’s time to put the lawn to bed at your Oberer home.

 

Make a yard checklist with these tasks:

  • Mow one final time. Don’t cut more than one-third of the grass height.
  • Remove leaves and excess debris.
  • Rake and de-thatch.
  • Fertilize with organic or synthetic products.
  • Apply broadleaf herbicide to weeds.
  • Seed the dead spots.
  • Water.

Mowing

 

If you haven’t been doing this all spring and summer, now's a good time to start. Change the direction of your mowing pattern; it should always be the opposite of the previous cut. Alternating the mowing direction allows grass blades to straighten up after being tamped. It’s best to cut when the grass is completely dry — that could be a challenge later in the year. Leave blade clippings on the lawn for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) to soak in. A few leaves on the ground are OK — they’ll be minced into natural fertilizer. But, if you have deciduous trees on or near your property, cut the grass before leaves start to pile up on the ground. 

 

Raking

 

Rake the grass. This is crucial if thatch develops on the sod. Thatch is a carpet-like mat of living and dead stems, roots, and rhizomes that spreads between the grass roots and soil. Removing thatch and aerating the turf helps your lawn to breathe. Raking fallen leaves is a must -- especially if there are more than a couple of trees on or near your property. Dead foliage contributes to thatch: It can suffocate the lawn and invite snow mold in the winter. 

 

Weed Control

There are no one-size-fits-all methods of weed control, nor can you expect to get rid of them forever. But treating the lawn in fall will help curtail unwanted winter varieties such as chickweed, henbit, and corn speedwell. Dandelions also germinate in fall, but there are fewer seeds (certainly not like in the spring!). Treating the lawn in autumn for perennial weeds keeps them from storing food to nourish their roots.

 

Homeowners in Ohio know that caring for the lawn is a never-ending task. But, a couple of hours on the weekend doing yard work is better — and cheaper — than having to start over in the spring! 

 

Bill Campbell is a landscaper and gardener who’s been mowing lawns since he was 14.

He prides himself on being eco-friendly and maintains a green lawn without using chemicals. 

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