Just because autumn has arrived, it doesn’t mean you can put the mower away until next spring. We could have a month or more of mowing ahead of us, and this is the most critical time for mowing.
Hopefully, you’ve been mowing with the deck height set between 3.5 and 4 inches. Continue that until the first frost and then lower the deck to 2.5 to three inches for the rest of the season. The rest of the season is until the grass stops growing and goes dormant for the winter.
The high deck height during the growing season allows the grass to grow nice and thick, reducing the area available for weeds to germinate. The reason for the lowered deck height at the end of the season is to give winter fungal diseases less leaf surface to infect. Fungal diseases thrive in wet environments, including under the snowpack. These diseases will appear as discolored patches in the lawn after the snow melts.
When the lawn dries up in the spring, the fungi won’t spread but you’ll be faced with cleaning out the dead grass and rejuvenating the lawn. It’s much easier to lower the mower for what you hope to be your last few mowings of the season than having to care for the aftermath. Besides, shorter cut lawns will also look better when the snow melts next spring because they won’t have that matted look.
In addition to mowing, fall lawn care tasks may include renovating any bare spots caused by grubs – after treating for them of course – and applying weed control to broadleaf weeds before they go to seed. This will reduce the chance of seeds germinating first thing in spring.
Grass will continue to grow and make food through photosynthesis until the ground freezes. The turfgrass plants are trying to store as much food in their roots as possible before going dormant so they have sufficient energy to break dormancy in the spring.
Fertilizing in the fall replenishes the soil nutrients that the grass plants used during the summer and assure that the grass plants will be able to manufacture sufficient food to sustain themselves through the winter and into early spring.
Remember, fertilizer is not plant food. Plants make their own food through photosynthesis. For that reaction to take place, however, the plants need minerals and nutrients present in the soil. If your soil is deficient in any of these nutrients, they need to be replenished through fertilization. You could look at fertilizer as vitamin supplements for plants.
If you want a lush lawn without the work involved, our lawn care professionals can apply fertilizer and weed control, and overseed if necessary. Then all you’ll have to do is wait for spring to enjoy your renewed lawn.