Lawns grow like crazy in the spring and summer. They are played on and walked on, sometimes leaving wear damage or bare patches. They get over-watered and under-watered. Weeds, diseases, and insects may have stressed them too. Fall is the best time to help that lawn recover from all those stresses during the summer and get it ready for the long, cold winter months ahead. To help you put together a list of tasks needed to make sure your lawn is lush, beautiful, and green lawn in spring we highlight key .
Fall lawn care tips
Aerate that lawn for better spring growth
Deep core aeration helps break up surface thatch and compaction that has been happening all summer. This encourages the water to penetrate deeper, soaking the roots and encouraging growth. There are hand corers which look a bit like garden forks, but for deep aeration machines are best. Cores should penetrate to at least 2-3” depth, with at least a 2” surface spacing between cores. Machines can be rented, or you can hire a lawn service like City Floral Landscaping for the job. Leave the cores to dissolve into lawn, which takes about 2-3 weeks, or rake them up gently and put them in the compost pile. Aerating in the fall is a good practice to help create a better lawn in spring.
Fertilizing in the fall helps the lawn grow a stronger root system before going into winter.
The proper amount of fall fertilizer provides the nitrogen and other compounds the lawn needs this time of year without promoting rapid growth. This will produce a denser growth and faster green-up in the spring, discouraging weeds. The best times to apply fertilizer is in October and November before Thanksgiving when the soil is moist, and temperatures are moderate. Make sure that you aren’t putting too much fertilizer because you are looking for root strength and not thatch production and new growth. Talk with the experts at City Floral for the right application for the type of lawn that you have. We have fertilizer spreaders available on loan, free with your fertilizer purchase.
Remember to water
Lawn growth is slower as the days shorten and cool, but lawns still need ½” to ¾” a week from rain or irrigation. Actively growing grasses produce tiller growth in the fall, sideways shoots that fill in sparse spots and traffic wear. To lessen winter damage water deeply once a month as weather allows. A quick note on mowing; you do not need to mow the grass shorter than usual before winter. Mowing at 2.5” to 3” is recommended throughout the year. Leave the grass clippings on the surface to recycle nutrients into the soil.
Start the fight against those weeds in fall
Applications of herbicides in early fall will help control perennial broad-leaf weeds like dandelion, clover, bindweed, plantain, mallow, and thistle. The weeds need to be green and growing to absorb the herbicide, so apply early in the season. Come spring there will be fewer weeds to worry about.
Over-seeding in the fall to promote a lush lawn in spring
We here at City Floral have a variety of different grass seed for fall over-seeding. It’s best to match seed variety to your existing lawn so it looks even. If you aren’t sure you are welcome to bring in a clump of grass from the lawn and our staff will help identify the grass types and recommend the best seed blends. Over-seeding will fill in thin lawns, spots missed by sprinklers, areas damaged by disease or insects, and shaded spots. It is also a great way to renovate older lawns by introducing new drought and disease resistant varieties. The newer varieties will establish in the existing lawn and spread to create a stronger turf overtime.
The best time for over-seeding is September and October before frost arrives mid-October. You can hand scatter seed for small areas. For larger areas, use handheld rotary or drop spreaders. Seed germination is greater after lawn aeration where the seed is protected in the core holes. Cover the seed with a light top dressing if desired and irrigate! Seed must be kept evenly moist for 21 days or more so short watering, two or three times a day is most effective.
Common lawn grasses that do well in the Denver area
The lawn grasses most recommended for the Denver Metro are bluegrass, ryegrass, fescue and buffalo grass. There are selections for rough wear and high traffic lawns, dwarf varieties to reduce lawn mowing, selections with lower water requirements or higher shade tolerance. Choose a variety that fits the way you use your lawn.
Bluegrass and bluegrass blends
These are the popular grass seeds used here in Colorado. Bluegrass seed is usually a blend of five or more varieties. It will grow well in average conditions but will be healthier with good soil conditions and regular care. Newer varieties have been selected for persistent dark green color and fine soft leaves that are easily mowed. Bluegrass turf is dense, with strong winter hardiness and is highly resistant to various diseases and pests. It tolerates heat, cold, and drought well and is also a great grass for high traffic areas. The lawn can recover from damage by spreading from side-way tillers. Bluegrass benefits from regular fertilizer and annual core aeration.
Ryegrass and ryegrass blends
These are very attractive, fine-textured, soft, dark green grasses. They grow quickly and look like bluegrass, so they are good addition to seed mixtures. Ryegrasses need more nitrogen fertilizer than other lawn grasses. They do not grow well in shade or heavy traffic areas and may show more winter damage.
These have two types—Tall and fine fescue grass seed. Tall fescues are selections from pasture fescues that have been selected for turf growing. In ideal soil conditions they may grow deeper root system than most other lawn grasses so sometimes they are recommended for water conservation. In general, though, they require just as much water as bluegrass. They are shade tolerant, unlike the bluegrasses and ryes. The grass blades are tough and fibrous and require sharp mower blades for clean and neat mowing. Damaged areas will need over-seeding because the grass cannot be filled in by tillers.
Fine fescues create the finest textured lawns, dense and soft. They have very good shade tolerance. Hot weather, however, may push them into summer dormancy. If you would like to try a no-mow lawn grow fine fescue mixed with meadow flowers for a new look.
These are selections of native prairie grasses used for low-water lawns. They are shorter grasses that need less mowing. New lawns need to be sodded rather than seeded. Growth is thinner that the other lawn grasses which may lead to more weeds. Weed control requires special attention because the common weed control chemicals may damage the turf. Buffalo grass has poor shade or traffic tolerance but excellent heat, cold, and drought tolerance. The growth season is short with the lawn going dormant at first frost. Fall over-seeding is not recommended; wait until spring.