The cooler weather is here and with it your lawn will enjoy a much needed reprieve from the summer heat. While your lawn may have slowed its growth during the hottest and driest times of the season, moderate temperatures and autumn rains will serve to rejuvenate your yard. Preparing to mow your lawn in the fall means implementing a modified and comprehensive maintenance strategy before winter settles in.
Here are seven steps to help you mow your lawn this fall and keep it healthy for spring:
1. Repair the Damage
It’s likely your lawn has noticeable patches of thinness or dead spots. In these areas you can apply compost mixed with seed and fertilizer to repair the damage from the hot summer sun.
2. Consider Laying Sod
Slight lawn damage is one thing, but entire sections of your yard that are dead require a more robust plan of attack, such as laying fresh sod. Apply only high quality, dense sod to give it a chance to take hold before the frost of winter.
You may have raised the mower’s height in the summer to ease up on the lawn. But now it’s time to return it to its normal two-inch setting. For the final two cuttings of the season, adjust the mower to its lowest possible setting and keep it there until you store it for the season. Maintain this routine through November, or whenever the grass stops growing.
4. Feed Your Lawn
Bring out your seed spreader and apply a weed and feed solution composed of weed killer and fertilizer. Do this in early fall, repeating the process two months later.
5. Overseed Your Lawn
Your lawn is now ready for overseeding. Apply a fall grass seed such as rye grass to the lawn and water it lightly twice daily until the new seed takes hold and reaches mower height. Mow your lawn in the fall only when the grass is thriving and hasn’t turned dormant. Rye grass provides a great protective cover throughout the winter and will remain present until the permanent grass emerges next spring.
6. Consider Aerating
You can help your lawn breathe better by aerating it early in the fall and again in the spring. Aerating removes thatch, loosens soil and improves drainage, helping to maintain lawn health.
7. How to Handle Leaves
A light layer of leaves, shredded by your mower and returned to the soil, will feed your lawn. However, when the leaves overwhelm your lawn, they should be removed. Composting the leaves will provide a fresh soil conditioner for next summer. Never leave a pile of leaves on your lawn, allowing that kind of buildup can block sunlight and thin your grass.
Bonus Tip: Prepare Your Equipment for Storage
You’ll mow your lawn in the fall or in early winter for the last time, but before you place your equipment in storage you need to empty the gas tank, change the oil, change the spark plug, clean the under surface of the mower and change the filter. If you have an electric mower, it may need to be placed inside your garage to preserve the battery’s life. Your gas mower can be stored in your shed or other sheltered area, but be sure to cover it with plastic to keep rodents from finding their way in.
Check out all the lawn & garden products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to mow your lawn in the fall, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.