Fall Grass Maintenance is the Key to Healthy Spring Lawns

Hank Kerfoot - Thursday, October 27, 2011

By incorporating the right fall grass maintenance program, grass will recover and flourish to provide a beautiful spring lawn.

When a change in season is approaching it is time to begin making a plan for grass maintenance to ensure your lawn, sports field or golf course thrives through the transitioning temperatures. The hot summer months can be hard on grass, especially if the weather has been overly dry. Grasses often need help recovering, and the right fall grass maintenance routine can not only the help the grass to recover but it can also help it to reach full potential for next year’s spring.

Lawn maintenance needs vary somewhat from grass type to grass type and also from climate to climate. However, fertilizing in the fall is a good idea for most types of grasses, because the soil is often tapped out of the nitrogen stores that were used during the spring and summer months.

Using Fertilizer during Fall Grass Maintenance

Identifying the type of fertilizer to use can be challenging for homeowners, but experienced landscape professionals can help you to select the right product for your lawn needs. If you are going to choose the fertilizer on your own, you will want to determine if you will go with a standard fertilizer or organic.

Standard fertilizers are chemical-based and are a cost-effective solution to keeping your lawn looking beautiful. Most often, these chemical fertilizers are slow-release and deliver fertilizer gradually over a period of time, which means there is less waste and leaching, less need for frequent application and less risk of fertilizer burn.

Organic or natural fertilizers are more expensive than traditional fertilizers and are slow-release, made from plant or animal products mixed with minerals. Homeowners and landscapers who are passionate about organic treatments will find the higher prices of organic fertilizers are worth it, although it will often take more product to treat the area.

Depending on the variety of grass, most landscape professionals recommend one treatment of slow-release fertilizer during the month of September to provide sufficient grass maintenance. To promote the healthiest lawn possible, you can also wait one month after the first application and lightly apply again. However, it is better not to apply fertilizer too late in the fall season as unused fertilizers can overwinter as salts and cause harm to grass, especially centipede.

Using Herbicides during Fall Grass Maintenance

Typically, weed that grew in the lawn over the summer will set seed and either die or become dormant during the winter. If the weed issue was especially problematic, you can choose to use herbicides during the first-half of September to kill weeds while they are still in the active growing stage.

You should apply pre-emergent herbicides in the fall to reduce weeds that rear their ugly heads during the winter and pop out significantly in the spring. This is an effective plan for most types of weeds, except crabgrass. In the case of preventing crabgrass, it is necessary to apply pre-emergent herbicide in the early spring.

Although people often think summertime is the most essential period for grass maintenance, having the right fall routine is the best way to make sure your lawn is healthy and green in the spring. Whether you are caring for a home or business lawn, sports field or golf course, fall turf maintenance is important for the appearance and ultimate health of the grass area.

About Modern Turf

Founder Kerfoot and Vice President B.J. Haunert possess a combined 50 years of turfgrass management experience in areas including the United States, Bermuda, and the Bahamas. Their goal is to make golf course superintendents' jobs easier. To learn more about Modern Turf visit http://www.modernturf.com/ or contact Hank Kerfoot at 803-713-8873.