As summer transitions to fall, your lawn will begin to store moisture and nutrients in preparation for the upcoming winter. As a homeowner, there are a few steps you can take now to help your lawn in the process, according to Grass Seed USA, a national coalition of academic turf specialists and grass seed farmers.
“September is the best time to prepare your lawn for the dormant winter months,” says Grass Seed USA Executive Director Bryan Ostlund. “This time of year, simple lawn care chores such as reseeding, weeding and aerating will help your grass immensely.”
The United States can be roughly divided into three grass-growing zones:
• Warm Zone
• Cool Zone
• Transition Zone
If you live in the Warm Zone, few winterization measures are needed and new warm-season lawns are best planted in the late spring or early summer. One option you may want to consider is overseeding, or adding cool-season grass seed over your warm-season turf. The cool-season grass will thrive until the warm-season grass turns green again in the spring, giving you a lush lawn year-round.
Homeowners in the Cool Zone and Transition Zone should take similar steps to prepare their lawns for winter, including:
• Adding seed to thicken an existing lawn;
If your lawn is looking thin or if you need to fill in some bare patches, now is the time to reseed. Talk to a turf specialist at a garden shop or university extension agent to find out what type of seed is best for your lawn conditions. Spread the seed over your existing lawn and then water lightly and regularly, making sure the reseeded areas stay moist until the new grass grows in. Transition Zone homeowners with warm-season grasses also have the option of overseeding their lawns to keep them green through the winter.
A certain amount of thatch – the tightly packed layer of organic matter between the grass blades and the soil surface – can benefit your lawn, but if the layer exceeds half an inch, it can keep moisture and oxygen from reaching the soil and can harbor fungus and insect pests. If your lawn needs to be dethatched, you can rent a vertical mower or hire a professional to do the job for you.
Older or heavily trafficked lawns can suffer from soil compaction. A core aerator with hollow tines will pull small plugs of soil out of the ground, allowing increased movement of water, nutrients and oxygen into the soil. You can rent an aerator or hire a professional to aerate your lawn for you.
• Raising your mower blades;
Let your grass grow a bit taller in the fall, usually between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half inches. If you cut it too short, you’ll severely limit its ability to make and store food for growth in the spring. If the grass is too long it can become matted, which leads to problems as well.
• Winterizing your irrigation system.
If you live in an area where the frost level extends below the depth of your irrigation pipes, be sure to shut off the water to the irrigation system and drain all the pipes before the first freeze.
Source: Grass Seed USA