Suburban Hills Lawn and Garden Tips

Fall-Winter-Volume 3

By Glenn Conatser
(Glenn is deceased)

Fall is very important in the life of our lawns. What we do in the fall pretty well determines how our lawns look for the rest of the year. This is not so much true for Bermuda grass but it is for cool season grasses. In the Summer issue we talked about renovation and rejuvenation, hopefully that went well for those who actually did it.

The biggest single problem I continue to see in the neighborhood is mowing cool season grasses to short. The results of that became obvious in early August when we got the heavy rain and all of a sudden there was crabgrass galore coming up in the closely mowed lawns. There are two lawns in particular that I have been watching and it is textbook how weeds are now dominating those lawns simple because they are being mowed too short. Remember, cool season grasses should be mowed at least 2 inched high but preferably 3 inched high. If you canít get this right, nothing else matters.

OK, now that I have that off my chest, lets talk about now, early November. It is extremely dry for this time of year and lawns are now under stress. Stress comes from weeds, lack of nutrients and lack of moisture. What we have going for us is cool weather especially at night. Cool season grasses love this time of year. Weeds are beginning to die back and now we have an opportunity to really get those grasses up and going strong. The fall fertilization is by far the most important one. The reason is simple, weeds are dying, the weather is cool and fertilization now will help the grass develop a good root system during the cool months and be much stronger next spring when the weeds hit us again. In truth, your cool season grasses should look their best right now. If yours doesnít look its best, try to figure out the reasons why. Most likely it will come down to two or three things, either too many weeds or lack of fertilization or lack of moisture or all of the above. Another reason might be that you just donít have enough grass (your grass is too thin).

It is getting a bit late to fertilize but if you havenít yet this fall by all means go ahead in the next few days. I use a product called Scotts Winterizer and it does a great job. It is formulated especially for this time of year and will revitalize your grass now and also make a big difference in the Spring. Your grass will have a chance to get a head start on the weeds next spring. Scotts Winterizer has a formulation of 22-3-14. It has four different sources of nitrogen some of which are very slowly released and it will still be releasing nitrogen in the spring. It has some micro-nutrients that your lawn needs and 14% potassium which will make your grass less likely to be attacked by disease next year. There may be other fertilizers that are equally as good but I am not aware of any.

Some other things that are important this time of year are to be sure and keep the leaves and pine needles cleaned up off the grass. Leaves and pine needles shade the grass which is deadly for your lawn. If leaves are left on the grass too long your lawn will be seriously weakened. I like to rake leaves every couple of days if possible or pick them up with the mower and use them for mulch or compost them for next yearís use in flower beds or in the vegetable garden. Itís too bad that all the leaves donít fall at the same time so we could just rake them up once but unfortunately that is not the way it is. If you wait until all of them fall before you rake them you do serious damage to your grass.

During the fall when temperatures are cool there is a tendency to forget that our shrubbery may be getting dry when we donít get rain. Now is one of those times. Shallow rooted plants like Dogwoods, Azaleas, Rhododendron, and many other plants need to be watered now. It is best to really soak them once a week rather than putting a small amount on more often. The same is true for the lawn.

When it starts getting colder the cool season grasses will continue to thrive if they have nutrients and water. It has to get really cold before growth is completely stopped. On the other hand the warm season grasses have done their thing for the year. Spring fertilization is best for them unlike the cool season grasses.

This has been a bit short but hopefully some of this will help you have a better lawn that is better prepared to go into the Winter months.

Copyright © 2002-2018 Glenn Conatser, Suburban Hills Homeowners Association