As we move into the fall season, it’s important to start thinking about next year’s lawn. How you fertilize your lawn in fall can make a big difference in how well it performs next spring. This post will present 5 important tips on how to care for your lawn in fall to ensure healthy grass growth next spring!
Tip #1: Rake The Leaves
Before you apply any products to your lawn in fall, it is crucial that you first remove any debris that may obstruct your lawn’s ability to absorb the nutrients contained in fertilizers. Depending on the amount of trees surrounding your lawn, fallen leaves can accumulate and suffocate your lawn, which obviously makes it difficult to apply fertilizer. Promptly removing leaves and other tree debris from your lawn as it falls is a great way to prep your lawn for fall fertilizer treatments!
Raking is not the only option of course. The most important part of fall leaf removal is simply getting the leaves off your grass before winter, but how you do it is up to you! Aside from traditional raking, leaf blowers, tarps, and mulch mowing can all be utilized to clear up your lawn.
- KEEP IN MIND! Though public opinion towards leaves on the lawn has slowly started to shift in recent years, don’t be fooled by false lawn care rhetoric! Leaves on the lawn are NOT harmless, as some people would claim. In fact, diseased leaves falling onto your grass is one of the most common causes of fall and springtime lawn diseases. REMOVE THOSE LEAVES!
Tip #2: Use Winterizing Fertilizers
The first step in fall lawn fertilization is to select the right products. A winterizing fertilizer is a specially made fertilizer that is designed to sustain lawns throughout winter. Colorado has a unique climate and soil composition, so it’s important to choose a product that specifically caters to this region.
When it comes to fall fertilization in our region, granular and slow-release fertilizers are the best choices. The dry granules are better suited to fall lawn care because they will not be absorbed by any leaves or other autumn clutter in your lawn. Additionally, slow-release fertilizers are great for fall applications because they provide nutrient coverage throughout the winter months and into next spring, giving your grass a better chance of survival. Keep the following in mind when using a granular, slow-release fertilizer:
- Granular fertilizers must be watered after application in order for them to work and release nutrients into the soil.
- Granular fertilizers have the benefit of reaching the soil level even through heavy leaf coverage.
- Though the ratio of nutrients is the same in each granule, the total amount of nutrients can vary between different pellets.
- When applying, walk at an even pace across your entire lawn, and use a slow-feeder for more even distribution.
Tip #3: Apply Before The First Frost
The best time for fall fertilizer applications is 3 weeks before the first frost of the season (mid to late October). Lawns do not immediately enter dormancy at the start of fall, and cool-season lawns will continue to grow until temperatures are consistently at 40 degrees or lower. Once you notice an early morning freeze spreading across your lawn, dormancy is soon to come. Applying a winterizing fertilizer before the first freeze of the season ensures that those nutrients have the opportunity to get absorbed and stored into your lawn’s root system. If you wait too late and the soil becomes too hard and cold, you will have missed your window for applying fall fertilizer.
Tip #4: Monitor Nitrogen Levels
In our neck of the woods in Colorado, what makes winterizing fertilizer so special is its nitrogen content. Most lawns in the Grand Junction area are composed of cool-season grass types, such as Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue. Cool-season grasses are much more tolerant of harsh, cold temperatures in winter, so giving these types of lawns a boost of nitrogen right before winter dormancy helps sustain them until spring. However, you much pay close attention to both the grass type in your lawn and the NPK ratio (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) of whatever you apply in fall, because not all lawns are the same!
- Cool-Season Grass: Cool-season lawns need more nitrogen for winterization treatments. Nitrogen enhances your lawn’s color and texture, and it improves the rate of growth. Lawns that perform well in colder temperatures will store any nitrogen applied in late fall and use it to burst to life in early spring. Nitrogen helps your lawn have one final burst of life before winter, which should make springtime rejuvenation even easier!
- Warm-Season Grass: Warm-season lawns benefit from increased levels of potassium for winterization. Potassium helps protect grass against cold temperatures, and it helps strengthen roots. Since warm-season lawn’s struggle more in the cold, increased potassium is crucial to your lawn’s survival through winter, and too much nitrogen could stress out a warm-season lawn that prefers to grow in warmer weather.
Tip #5: Make The Final Mowing Lower
Lower your mower blade one inch before the last mowing of the season. This will help keep the lawn strong since tall grass can easily be damaged by winds and snow. Additionally, taller grass requires more fertilizer in order to feed the entire leaf blade. By mowing your lawn lower than normal right before dormancy, you are ensuring that your lawn gets the most nutrients it can possibly get during fall fertilizer applications. Keep in mind that this is only for the final mow; during all other treatments, avoid scalping and make sure to keep your blades at regular height (3-3.5 inches for cool-season grass & 2-2.5 inches for warm-season grass).
Fall Fertilization Services For Colorado
By following these simple tips in fall, you’ll have a better chance of maintaining healthy grass throughout the next growing season. If you have any questions or concerns on how or when to fertilize your lawn, be sure to reach out to Lush Green Services! Our team of experts can test and amend your soil to make sure it is ready to spring a new lawn to life, and they will be there in fall to prepare your lawn for winter weather! Call us today at (970) 201-1967 to get started!