Fertilizing lawns in the fall is one of the most important application of the year because it helps in the production of a strong root system. Use a complete fertilizer - one that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K).
If your lawn had been diagnosed with a disease such as summer patch, brown patch, or necrotic ring spot, fall is the time to catch up. Filling in the empty spots this fall, by reseeding or laying new sod, may cover up the damage but will not entirely solve the problem. To help your lawn fight future disease outbreaks, proper mowing, fertilization, watering, aeration, and dethatching can be very helpful.
It is always a good idea to core aerate. Removing soil plugs will help break thatch and increase air and water movement in the soil. The thatch is the layer where most fungal disease resting structures hide and survive for many years. Dethatching is a key in preventing most lawn diseases such as summer patch. A thatching rake is useful for smaller lawns. But if you have a larger area and you want to save time, consider using a power rake or a vertical mower. The blades should be set in such a way that the soil is disturbed as little as possible.
This article originally appeared in the November 5, 1999 issue, p. 129.
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