Lawn Care Basics
Important Lawn Maintenance Projects for the Fall
These quick projects can make the difference between so-so and spectacular when it comes to fall grass — and next spring's lawn.
It's almost time to pack it in for winter, but before you pat yourself on the back for another awesome lawn season, there are a few things you can do that will make a serious difference come spring. Tackle these 15-minute yard maintenance projects now, then you can rest easy once the temperature drops.
Feed Your Lawn
The difference between a so-so stretch of grass and a truly beautiful lawn both now and next spring is two fall feedings. Fertilizing in early fall helps your lawn begin rebuilding grassroots that were damaged during the hot, dry summer. Since fall is also a great time to kill several types of lawn weeds, including clover and dandelion, you can do two jobs at once (boom!) by applying a weed and feed like Scotts® Turf Builder® WinterGuard® Fall Weed & Feed3. If you live in the South and have a St. Augustine, zoysia, or centipedegrass lawn, use Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Triple Action instead. It not only kills weeds and nourishes the lawn, but also kills and prevents fire ants. (Because, as the name implies, fire ants are never a good thing.)
Follow-up with a second fall feeding 6-8 weeks after your first fall fertilization. Scotts® Turf Builder® WinterGuard® Fall Lawn Food gives your fall grass the nutrients it needs to store up energy for a healthy spring push, plus helps to break down mulched-up leaves.
Spruce Up Your Lawn
When kids (including the grownup ones) play on a lawn that's still hurting from the summer heat and drought, it can get damaged. If you have bare spots in the lawn (like the one left behind by the kiddie pool), use a product specifically formulated for repairing bare spots like Scotts® EZ Seed® Patch & Repair which is guaranteed to grow grass anywhere (when you give proper care). To thicken up a thin lawn, use Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick’R Lawn™, which is a 3-in-1 product uniquely formulated to help turn weak, thin grass into a thicker, greener lawn. With any seeding project, keep the soil surface moist. Try to make it out there for a light watering once a day or as needed until the seedlings have reached a mowing height.
Check out our seeding solutions article for more information.
Mulch Your Leaves
Don't let tree leaves smother your grass. Contrary to popular belief, fallen tree leaves will not insulate your lawn during winter. In fact, they can be a total buzzkill by blocking vital sunlight and thinning your grass. So, ditch the rake and mulch your leaves to dime-sized pieces with your lawnmower before applying one of your fall feedings to help the soil microbes break down the leaves.
See our article on mulching leaves for more information.
Check the Gutters
While you're hanging holiday lights and pretending you don't have a fear of heights, check the gutters and give them a good cleaning while you've already got the ladder out. You definitely don't want clogged gutters when winter storms roll in.
Mow Your Lawn Shorter
In late fall, drop your mower down and cut your lawn 1 to 2 inches shorter than you have the rest of the growing season. Continue to mow shorter until your grass stops growing in early winter, when both you and your lawn head into hibernation mode. For that final mowing, go even a little bit lower.
Stow Your Lawn Furniture
It's probably too cold now to sip lemonade on the patio, so before you settle in for your winter nap on the couch, put the outdoor cushions away and haul the grill and furniture into storage until next year.
Clean Up your Tools for a Fresh Start Next Spring
They've served you well all season, but now that you've completed your fall yard maintenance (heck yeah!), it's time to put the tools away. You'll keep them from rusting if you clean them up before you hang them up. Also, if you're done mowing for the year, don't forget to do your winter mower maintenance before storing.
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