Transitioning Your Yard from Summer to Fall
10/13/2017 5:00:00 AM
By: Katie Kuchta
When most people think of the transition from summer to fall it means cooler days, the start of school, and the leaves on trees changing color.
But when it comes to your lawn, there are a whole slew of things to think about. In fact, the transition from summer to fall is one of the most important times to make sure you're following proper lawn care practices.
Schedule an aeration
In nearly every region of the country, Fall is prime time for core aeration.
Over time, your soil becomes compacted by lawn mowers, foot traffic and even just the weight of the soil. The more compact the soil is, the harder it is for water, air, and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass. Lawns that go years without aeration are bound to become overcome with weeds, which fare better in compact soil than grass does.
Core aeration relieves this compaction by pulling out small plugs of dirt from the lawn, typically 2-3 inches deep and ¼-½ inch in diameter. The plugs are left on top to crumble and return to the soil, and the holes allow grass roots to breathe.
Why aerate in fall? As mentioned in this previous article, "fall aeration helps strengthen underground root systems while providing an excellent bed for overseeding."
You'll want to aerate in early Fall, so that your lawn has time to get the benefits before winter. And since most companies have a 3 week lead time on aeration, it's important to schedule it in advance.
Pair your aeration with overseeding
Overseeding is the process of spreading seed over an existing lawn to replace dead grass, filling out your lawn for a full, lush look. Overseeding also helps crowd out weeds.
Aeration and overseeding go together like peanut butter and jelly for two reasons. For one, they both happen to be most beneficial during a lawn's growing season. Secondly, the when seeds fall into the holes created by aeration, they tend to sprout better.
It's important to note that overseeding is more common in northern parts of the country.
Increase your mowing frequency
In most regions, grass grows faster during Fall than it does during summer. This is simply because most grass types go dormant during the heat of the summer as a survival mechanism.
So as the weather starts to cool, it's important to increase your mowing frequency to keep up with the growth.
In markets like Texas, it's common to go from monthly during the summer to biweekly during the fall. Whereas in northern markets like Minneapolis, you might be switching from biweekly mowing to weekly mowing.
Adjust your watering schedule
In most regions, your lawn watering regimen will differ between summer and fall. Unfortunately, there's no one-size fits all recommendation because schedule not only depends on your climate, but your local regulations. LawnStarter Lawn Care recommends the following in Phoenix: "Water a bermudagrass lawn once every three days during the summer….in the winter, Bermuda-grass lawns go dormant and need no supplemental watering."
These are just a few basic tips on making your lawn's transition from summer to fall. For more information, check out the following resources:
- LawnStarter's comprehensive lawn care guide
- Important Lawn Maintenance Projects for Fall by Scotts
- Your local turfgrass extension