This is a partnered post to share tips to care for the yard this warm Autumn.
It’s no secret that warm autumn weather hasn’t been paying attention to the calendar these days. We’ve just been through the hottest summer ever on record, and even though it’s October, there are still days when the temperature climbs way up there.
If you’re a home gardener, you’ve probably got a nagging feeling that you’re supposed to be doing seasonal maintenance on the lawn, but for what season? Well, regardless of the thermometer and the drought in California, it’s still fall, and whether you’re thinking about lawn care in Sacramento or in Santa Ana, there are things to do if you want a lawn that looks good now and will grow lush when spring and summer come.
Before you start carving those Halloween pumpkins, take care of your lawn:
Raking and Dethatching
Autumn leaves are oh so pretty, but when they accumulate and then get wet, they suffocate the grass and turn into a soggy mess. Rake hard enough to ease that tangle of old leaves, dead grass, and roots —known as thatch— that has compiled over the summer and that would otherwise restrict water and airflow. Don’t rake too severely, though, or you’ll be removing healthy grass and damaging important roots.
Your lawn needs water more than just about anything else. And if there’s not much chance of Mother Nature providing it – or enough of it – you’ve got to take up the slack and make sure your lawn gets an inch of water a week. Depending upon your irrigation system, that means having the sprinklers on for ten to twenty minutes twice a week. Keep them on for any longer and a lot of water is going to be wasted in run-off before it can be absorbed.
Test your sprinkler amount and pattern by putting containers like tuna cans around your lawn and comparing the amount.
Get More Water and Oxygen to the Roots
Grass roots need oxygen in order to thrive, and heavily compacted or clay soil needs to be aerated regularly so the lawn can breathe. The process involves removing small plugs of dirt from all over the lawn so that the stuff grass needs to grow can filter down where they need to be. The bits of dirt and roots decompose by themselves and redistribute nutrients, so you can leave them on the lawn. Hire a lawn care professional for this task because while you can rent a gas-powered core aerator at your local garden center, they’re large and bulky.
Don’t Stop Mowing
Despite the extremely warm autumn weather, the grass has its own schedule and it’s probably growing more slowly during these autumn days. Because of that, you can slow down the frequency, but generally as soon as the turf reaches between 2 and 4 inches, cut the grass down to the recommended length. You probably mow your lawn to keep it from looking raggedy, but the real reason you should mow your lawn is to keep it healthy. Mowed lawns are more protected from weeds and insects and any fallen leaves double as free mulch once they’ve been chopped up by the mower.
Reseed and Start Growing
After the stress of summer, your lawn might be a little bald in some spots. Seed the entire lawn rather than just the thin spots to ensure an even lawn that is thick enough to block out weeds. Fall is a good time because even though it may still be quite warm where you are, the sun is getting lower and isn’t very intense. Be sure to keep watering until seedlings appear.
Most people fertilize about once a year, so if that’s you do it now. Your lawn will start growing deep roots when it gets cold and prepare for growing season next spring. If you are more up-to-date on your fertilizing schedule and you do it twice a year, then spring and fall are perfect.
Stop Weeds in Their Tracks
While your grass is storing up energy now to build a strong root system for next year, weeds are trying to do the same thing. Stop them before they start by using a pre-emergent herbicide now.
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