Organic Lawn Tips For Fall
Organic lawn care is not just limited to summer, it is important to continue lawn maintenance into fall to ensure a healthy green lawn in spring. Applying fall organic fertilizer, proper mowing, and seeding can help keep grass green through winter and prepare it for dormancy.
Following these five organic lawn tips in the fall can save time and in the spring time.
1. Rake – Whether you use an electric leaf blower, rake, or mulch, it is essential to remove leaves from the lawn. Leaving wet leaves on grass will trap moisture, which can cause fungus or pest invasions. If the lawn is composed of cool season grasses like bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass, leaves will block the sunlight that the grass needs to stay green. An advantage of cool season grasses is that they stay green until winter, but only if they get the right amount of sunlight, air, and water.
2. Mow – It is always recommended to mow regularly and at a moderate height (between 2.5 and 3.5 inches). The same advice is applicable for fall mowing, although the last mow of the season can be an additional half inch higher. Taller grass retains moisture in the soil and helps protect the root network of grasses. Mowing will be required more frequently, but it is worth the effort. Leave grass clippings on the lawn to create a natural, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer.
3. Seed – Fall is a good time to repair bare patches in the lawn. The newly germinated grass plants will have a few months to grow and establish a healthy root network that will carry through the winter and into spring. Warm season grasses like Bermuda, St. Augustine, and zoysia can be overseeded with annual winter ryegrass. Warm season lawns become dormant and brown in cool weather, but seeding with an annual winter ryegrass will provide green grass throughout fall and into winter.
4. Fertilize – Cool season grasses are still growing in fall, so they need nutrients to sustain them. Use an organic fertilizer with a low phosphorus number (the “P” in N-P-K). On the other hand, warm season grasses are preparing for dormancy, so do not fertilize them because it can interrupt this process, which would cause the lawn to be less protected in the winter months. Liquid fertilizers work best because they are readily absorbed and there is no need to over-apply.
5. Dethatch and Aerate – Lawn dethatchers are used to remove lawn thatch, which is a layer of dead organic matter above the soil at the base of the grass plants. Not every lawn has a thatch problem. In fact, many do not. However, if the lawn has a layer of lawn thatch thicker than about a half inch, it should be addressed before the problem gets worse. Use an organic liquid dethatcher with bacteria and enzymes that will naturally break down the thatch layer and turn it into soil. Dethatching rakes can actually cause damage to the grass plants and roots and should be avoided.
Lawn aeration is a different issue than lawn thatch. The objective of aerating a lawn is to create space in the soil for air, water, and nutrients to reach the plant roots where they are most needed. Soil can become compacted from heavy rain, foot traffic, snow cover, vehicle traffic, and a number of other factors. Aerating soil in fall will help prepare the lawn for winter and allow the grass plants to absorb as many nutrients as possible from organic fertilizer that is applied. They will need them over the cold winter months. Because snow cover contributes to soil compaction, creating space in the soil before the snow comes can help mitigate the damage. Organic liquid aerators are significantly better than core aeration. They create space in the soil on a micro level by using opposing charges to push soil colloids apart. Core aerators can sometimes even compact soil further where the coring device pushes the soil colloids together.
These five organic lawn tips may create some work in the fall, but it is worth the effort. The lawn will be better prepared for winter and will require less maintenance in spring.
Find more information about organic fertilizers and liquid aerator on the GreenerGreenGrass website.
More helpful organic lawn tips can be found on our Organic Lawn Care Blog.
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