Happy September! It is hard to believe that summer is drawing to a close. But fall is lovely too with the changing colors and cool (but not too cold!) temperatures. Fall is also the perfect time to prepare your yard for next spring. Follow these tips to protect your lawn and garden from Old Man Winter and for a beautiful yard next spring.
1. DO keep mowing your lawn. If your lawn is healthy, you can lower the mowing height in the fall to protect your lawn against winter fungal diseases.
2. DON’T forget to water your lawn if it’s dry. Water once or twice a week, long enough to soak the soil several inches deep. Avoid watering at night as that may encourage fungal diseases.
3. DO remove fallen leaves from your lawn or they’ll form a thick mat that will suffocate the grass and can breed fungal diseases. Use leaves in your compost pile or as a winter blanket in your perennial flower and garden beds.
4. DON’T forget to aerate your lawn. Get a professional aerator that will punch holes in the soil underneath your grass so that oxygen, water, and fertilizer can feed the grass roots.
5. DO fertilize in the fall to encourage growth of deep grass roots and keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy start next spring. Use winter fertilizer and a drop spreader for best results.
6. DON’T ignore weeds. To ensure a lush lawn next year, apply an herbicide now to target fall-germinating and perennial weeds.
7. DO repair your lawn. Cooler temperatures in the fall are the best time to fill in bare spots. Use a rake to rough up the soil and then apply your grass seed. Then water the spots every other day for the first few weeks. You can also throw a thin layer of peat moss on top of the spot to help retain moisture. Make sure you reseed before the temperature drops below fifty degrees.
8. DON’T forget to plant shrubs now because the soil is warmer than in the spring and there’s still time for the roots to get established before winter. Water the roots thoroughly on the day you plant and at least once a week before winter. Wait until spring to fertilize so you don’t burn your new root system.
9. DO plant perennials now for spring color. Can’t decide what to plant? Sedum, Peony, and Garden Phlox are pretty but low maintenance.
10. DON’T forget to remove annuals and mulch the soil around perennials with peat moss, hay or shredded leaves.