Fall maintenance for a better spring lawn.

October 12, 2011

The movement towards natural lawn care is often perceived as a waste of time, and nowhere near as effective as applying pesticides and fertilizers.   Although chemical-based lawn care can be a quick fix, in the long-term, it is simply a band-aid solution.  Using a natural approach to lawn care will take a bit longer for results, but the results will last a long time.  Now that the hot, dry weather is passed, a few maintenance steps for your lawn will help to create a green, sustainable lawn that will stay that way.
Fall is a great time to prepare for a great spring lawn.

AERATE: This is likely the most difficult step for lawn care. If you have sandy soils, then skip this part, there is no need. If you have clay soils, then this is a must. The best way to aerate is to rent a machine, or hire someone to do this for you. Although aerating services tend to be more prolific during the spring, fall is really the best time for aeration. Shoes that poke holes into the ground may help at reducing compaction for the depth of the spike, but with double the level of compaction at the depth below the spike as the soil is squished down. By pulling out the plugs of compacted soil, you can increase the amount of water and air that gets into the soil, feeding the grass roots.

TOP DRESS with high quality, screened compost. Rake over the lawn to a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Avoid triple mix, black soil, peat moss and other types of soil mixes. Compost would be comparable to giving your lawn a healthy salad, as opposed to a processed fruit bar.  The compost will fill the holes created through aeration, adding much-needed organic matter to clay soils.

OVERSEED with perennial ryes and fescue grass seed. Kentucky Blue Grass is a type of grass that needs lot of water and is more susceptible to grubs and chinch bugs.
Grass species such as ryes and fescues are more drought tolerant so they
can better handle long hot periods. These types of grasses are also less appealing to grubs and Chinch bugs,meaning less pest problems.  Seeds can be added at the same time as the compost application. Keep in mind that the seeds needs to be kept moist, but not wet until germination begins (when the grass blades start to show).

These methods will not be a one time effort. Doing these things annually will help to establish a sustainable, healthy lawn. The benefits are a safe, healthy and natural defensive lawn that you and your kids or pets can roll around on without the risk of harmful chemicals.

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