5 fall steps for healthy spring lawns

Now is not the time to slack off on lawn care
Don't let impending snow put off lawn care steps.

Although spring is commonly seen as the most important season for lawn care, the steps you take in the fall can have just as big an impact—if not bigger—on the health of your clients’ lawns, according to researchers for Grass Seed USA.

[Related: 3 late-winter lawn prep tips to get a jump on spring]

The organization published a maintenance and winterization report to help lawn care professionals and homeowners protect their lawns.

Lawns with bare patches and other signs of wear should be reseeded while soil is still warm, according to the report.

“Lawns with poor density or bare areas going into winter will become infested with weeds if you do not add more turfgrass,” Alec Kowalewski of Oregon State University noted.

The report outlined these five steps to winterize lawns to come back strong next spring.

Rake. Use a straight rake to remove dead organic matter and loosen up the top half inch of soil.

Aerify. Even lawns that don’t need to be reseeded can benefit from aeration to “combat soil compaction and thatch buildup, and enable oxygen, water and nutrients to reach the grass’s roots more easily.”

Fertilize. Although nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are important nutrients for cool-season grasses, new turf and established lawns need them in different proportions, according to the report. “If you’re reseeding, you’ll want to apply a starter fertilizer at the time of planting and then follow up with a standard fertilizer four to eight weeks after germination.”

Reseed. When selecting seed that will be suitable for a particular lawn, Cale Bigelow of Purdue University recommended checking seed labels for seed tested in the last six months with germination rates of 85% or better.

Water. Newly planted grass will need frequent light watering until the seeds germinate. Keep the top layer of soil damp, then reduce watering after germination, as temperatures decrease and days get shorter.

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