Late Fall Lawn Care

Fall is a busy time for gardeners. With so much to do, lawn care is sometimes neglected. However, proper lawn care in fall helps insure an attractive, healthy lawn next season. Late fall lawn care includes:

Mowing--Continue to mow the lawn until the grass stops growing. The foliage of cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass, usually stops growing in early November. Mow bluegrass lawns at a height of 2 to 2 1/2 inches in the fall.

Fertilization--Even though the turfgrass foliage stops growing in late fall, the roots continue to absorb and utilize nutrients. A late fall fertilization (late October to early November) helps promote root growth and produces an early green up next spring. Apply 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Good sources of nitrogen for late fall fertilization include urea, sulfur-coated urea, and IBDU.

Raking--Gardeners with large, mature trees in their yard need to rake and dispose of the fallen leaves. A thick layer of leaves left on the lawn throughout the winter may smother and damage the turfgrass plants. Composting is an excellent way to dispose of leaves. Small quantities can be shredded by a lawnmower and left on the lawn.

Broadleaf Weed Control--Late fall broadleaf weed applications are effective and pose fewer risks. By late fall, most flower and vegetable gardens have been destroyed by a frost. Also, most trees and shrubs are going dormant. A late fall herbicide application, therefore, poses fewer risks to nontarget plants. On the other hand, perennial broadleaf weeds continue to absorb broadleaf herbicides until growth ceases in November.

This article originally appeared in the October 14, 1994 issue, p. 148.

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